By Marcelo Teixeira
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Formula One wants to keep the Brazilian Grand Prix on the calendar but where South America’s only race will be held after 2020, when the contract with Sao Paulo ends, remains uncertain.
Formula One chairman Chase Carey, who represents U.S.-based commercial rights holders Liberty Media Corp, told reporters at last weekend’s race at Interlagos that all options were being evaluated.
“We have interests, we have multiple partners that are interested,” Carey said. “It is certainly our goal to continue to race in Brazil for a long time.”
“Generally, there isn’t a specific deadline. Our general practice has been to announce the schedule for the next season around the summer,” he added.
Interlagos is confirmed for 2020, but Rio de Janeiro is a candidate for the year after.
Sao Paulo wants to keep the race and state governor Joao Doria said there will be a meeting with Liberty in the first week of December, when a formal proposal will be presented by the city.
Sao Paulo currently pays no fee to Formula One, unlike others around the world who pay as much as 60 million euros ($66.35 million) for their races, but Doria said that would change.
“We are going to pay the fee in the next contract, we will have private money coming in, private investments as well,” said the governor.
Local paper O Estado de S.Paulo reported that the city, the home of late triple world champion Ayrton Senna, was willing to pay $20 million as a fee. There were reports that Rio had offered more.
“Our agreements have multiple aspects about them, they are not only about the fee, we have many elements that go into an agreement, they are quite complex,” said Carey.
The city of Sao Paulo, governed by Doria’s ally Bruno Covas, is set to sell the rights to manage Interlagos for 33 years to the private sector on Jan. 8.
The plan is to have activities all year round in the circuit’s area, as well as to build a hotel, exposition area and possibly a shopping mall.
There were talks during the weekend about other locations, in smaller cities outside the Rio-Sao Paulo axis.
Carey declined to give any more details regarding the ‘multiple partners’ that have shown interest in hosting the event.
The area around Interlagos has grown a lot in the last years and traffic is a major issue. Security has also been a problem, although that has improved.
The proposed Rio location is very far from the city center, in a region lacking hotels and transport infrastructure. It is also a forested area and will need an environmental license before any construction can start.
(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira, editing by Alan Baldwin/Christian Radnedge)