Brazilian GP circuit must improve, warns Ecclestone
The Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos is the latest Formula 1 race to come under threat from the sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
Ecclestone told Brazilian newspaper Estada de SÃƒ£o Paulo that the “worst circuit” on the F1 calendar must see “significant improvements” to continue to host motorsport’s elite.
Brazil will host the football World Cup in 2014, while Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympics, and Ecclestone believes that the arrival of such money-spinning events should also deliver upgrades to the SÃƒ£o Paulo circuit.
“Brazil will organize the next World Cup and the Olympics, so it makes sense,” he said.
“Long ago, in 1972, I believed in Brazil and brought Formula 1 here, but I can no longer be questioned by the teams about the worst circuit in the championship. The future depends on significant improvements.”
In recent years, Ecclestone threatened to drop the British Grand Prix if the British Racing Drivers’ Club failed to modernise Silverstone, and went so far as to award rival circuit Donington a 17-year deal to host the race from 2010 after the improvements failed to materialise.
The Donington deal collapsed amid financial uncertainty, and the race returned to Silverstone with a similar 17-year deal, allowing the BRDC to secure the investment needed to upgrade the circuit’s facilities.
Interlagos first hosted F1 in 1973, with the Brazilian Grand Prix held there since 1990 after moving from JacarepaguÃƒÂ¡, near Rio de Janeiro.
The last two world drivers’ championships have both been decided at Interlagos: in 2008 as McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton dramatically pipped Felipe Massa to the title by taking the fifth place he needed on the final corner of the final lap. While compatriot, and now team-mate, Jenson Button won the title for Brawn GP in 2009 by claiming fifth place despite starting a lowly 14th on the grid.
The current deal for the Brazilian Grand Prix, signed two years ago, should see the race safe until 2015, but Ecclestone could still pull the plug if assurances over upgrades don’t materialise.