The city of Sao Paulo has opened the bidding for a restructuring programme at Interlagos, in an effort to keep the Brazilian Grand Prix. The city says that the work to upgrade the circuit is required by the Formula 1 authorities if Sao Paulo wants to keep the race. The work is expected to cost around $90 million in total and will include the construction of a new three-storey pit building on the current back straight. This will needed to be widened and further track work will be needed at the bottom of the straight, as this will now go around the lake before rejoining the existing track behind the new paddock area. There will be substantial rebuilding of grandstands as part of the project. The mayor of Sao Paulo Fernando Haddad says that the work will begin in August but will not be finished before this year’s event. The current contract runs out in 2015 and the work is necessary for the city to secure another five year deal. The new facility will include 40 pit garages with VIP hospitality above it, plus a new race control and podium area and a new media centre. The work is to be paid for by the Ministry of Tourism because the city government does not have the money needed. The decision to fund the work is justified by surveys which suggest that the Grand Prix week is the city’s busiest of the year, with high spending visitors spending more than $250 a day in the city, creating economic benefits of more than $100 million.
The pressure on Sao Paulo remains because until the work is done there is no deal for the future and there are rumours that Bernie Ecclestone is still talking to rival city Rio de Janeiro about the possibility of a race there. In the 1980s the Grand Prix was held at Rio’s Jacarepagua track, although this has now been ploughed up to make way for buildings for the 2016 Olympic Games. The last possible venue mentioned in Rio was a former military base.