Interlagos Sold, McLaren Mugged at Gunpoint. The End for Brazilian F1?
Lewis Hamilton speeding past the hillside favela.
The long-term future of the Brazilian F1 event seems to be in doubt this week, after an announcement was made about the impending sale of the venue. The details of the sale are yet to be announced but it would appear that the City has sold the land to a property development company, in a deal that could be in the region of USD600 million.
The Interlagos track has been a feature of the F1 circuit since 1972, but was originally built in 1940, and it sits on about one million square metres of prime real estate in the city of Sao Paulo. The circuit has a contract to run F1 events up to 2020 but what happens after that is anyone’s guess at the moment. It is no secret that Sao Paulo, like many other F1 venues, are struggling to justify holding the race, and the annual event has been losing money for years.
The Mayor seems to believe that the track will be preserved and apartment buildings will be added to the sprawling complex. However, if you have been around a race circuit, you would appreciate that the sound made by the cars can border on painful to the ear, and we really doubt that anyone would want to live with the noise pollution for long. Organiser of the Brazilian GP, Tamas Rohonyi, believes that there is a strong future for F1 in Brazil with or without the Interlagos, despite the low TV ratings and sponsorship.
Chase Carey, the new head of F1, agrees with him, despite the fact that next year there will be no Brazilian driver on the grid after Massa retired this year. Of course, security—or lack thereof—has always been an issue in Brazil, and this year has been no different, with the McLaren pit team being mugged at gunpoint as they left the circuit in their mini-bus. The issue is so acute that McLaren and Pirelli cancelled their scheduled tyre test at the circuit after the Pirelli security team managed to thwart an attempted hijacking of their truck after the F1 race.
They look tough—McLaren F1 pit mechanics.
Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren, said that the circuit needs to get its act together on security, after shots were fired during the robbery of the McLaren mechanics on Sunday. It is difficult to see what can be done by the authorities, though, as the circuit is next to one of Brazil’s infamous slums, and the teams have to take a congested road past it to gain access to and from the circuit. The conspicuous wealth on display probably is too much to ignore for the local criminal fraternity.