The city of Rio de Janeiro has been busy of late, rebuilding its infrastructure and trying to brush up its image It is still one of the richest cities in Brazil, but an estimated 20 percent of the population still live in shanty towns. Crime rates in the city have been high and this has affected the tourist trade but Rio recognises that it needs to improve to make the most of its fabulous setting and beautiful beaches. The city has managed to attract not only the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final, but also the 2016 Olympics Games. The aim is to keep this progress going and as part of the plan the mayor Eduardo Paes has been pushing for the construction of a new autodrome to replace the old Jacarepaguá circuit, which has been largely torn up to make way for facilities for the Olympic Games. The project chosen is on land at Deodoro, where a former military base will be handed over to the government for the work. It was once the largest ammunition dump in South America and so has rail access, which will be useful for spectators. This is slightly controversial as the land still has occasional unexploded bombs found and because it had been earmarked to become parkland. The government has decided that it can be both a park and a race track, in much the same way as happens in Albert Park in Melbourne or in Montreal. The work will include the planting of large numbers of new trees and a track that will largely use areas where the trees have already gone. The circuit will be a figure of eight design. The track will have only 30,000 seats, but will be able to accommodate a large number more with temporary seating if there is ever a Grand Prix. The project is also aimed at improving the local area, where there are currently a lot of slums.
Paes said at the launch of the project that he would steal Formula 1 away from Sao Paulo. This will be a very useful lever for Bernie Ecclestone who has been trying to get the authorities at Interlagos to get on and build a new pit and paddock area at the track, which has been used for the Brazilian Grand Prix since 1990.
Prior to that the race was held at Jacarepaguá between 1981 and 1989 and before then at the original Interlagos. The rivalry between the two cities is as strong as well.