São Paulo claims F1 race deal extension

São Paulo officials have announced an agreement has been reached with Formula 1 to extend the city’s race deal, seemingly ending controversial plans to switch Brazil’s grand prix to a proposed new circuit in Rio de Janeiro.

City Mayor Bruno Covas made the announcement at a joint news conference with state Governor Joao Doria, with the future of the Brazilian GP having been at the centre of a long-running dispute. Earlier this week, F1 published its provisional 2021 calendar with an asterisk placed against the Spanish GP on May 9 in Barcelona and the Brazilian GP on November 14 in São Paulo.

Both events had yet to extend their race contracts for 2021, but Covas has now announced that São Paulo has secured its annual race at the Interlagos circuit, initially until 2025.

“The contract has been finalised and will be signed in the next few days,” Covas said, according to the Reuters news agency. “In November (2021) we will have the GP São Paulo here in Interlagos. The contract is for five years and renewable for another five years.”

A spokesman for Formula 1, approached separately, said the sport “never discussed commercial decisions with partners or promoters”.

This year’s Brazilian GP at Interlagos was cancelled due to COVID-19, and Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, had been behind an effort to take the race to Rio. Indeed, F1 was said to have agreed a deal for a race at a proposed new circuit in the Deodoro area of Rio, but these plans have been criticised for their potential environmental impact and had yet to be approved. When asked why São Paulo was chosen over Rio, Covas said: “Well, we already have a racetrack.”

The 2019 Brazilian GP was said to have generated R$111m (£15.3m/€17m/$20.1m) for São Paulo, with the creation of 8,500 jobs.

The change from the Brazilian GP to the São Paulo GP is reportedly due to greater involvement from local authorities and will involve a different promoter and a hosting fee payable to Formula 1, unlike in recent seasons.

Image: Jose Cordeiro/ São Paulo Turismo