Brazilian Grand Prix promoter Tamas Rohonyi has dismissed reports that the future of the country’s Formula One race is under threat, despite Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of the motor-racing championship, stating the event may not take place after the current season.
The Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo has hosted an F1 grand prix every year since 1991 and in April 2014 signed a six-year extension to ensure the race remained at the track until at least 2020.
However, despite this deal still being in place, the track has faced criticisms over its facilities and Ecclestone recently said the “chances are that it won’t happen next year”.
In response, Rohonyi said the circuit is currently undergoing redevelopment and is confident that Ecclestone will be satisfied enough for the grand prix to remain in Sao Paulo.
Rohonyi told the Autosport.com website: “I know he (Ecclestone) has been anxious for a long time to see Interlagos developed more and more so what he probably meant was he was very anxious this should all be done as good as possible and we have assured him it is all being done.
“After the first phase, he met the mayor of the city at the circuit and expressed satisfaction over what is being done. He understood this volume of work cannot be done in a single year because the circuit is used (regularly). I'm confident when it is finished, he will look at it and say 'wow, this is great stuff’.”
Rohonyi said that the circuit’s current contract with Formula One Management is “cast iron” and expects to open talks about further extension ahead of this year’s race in November. He also said he is confident that Sao Paulo’s new mayor, who will be elected to power shortly before the grand prix, will support its stay in the city.
“In Sao Paulo, we're on the seventh mayor since the race came back and we have never had any difficulty,” Rohonyi said. “Every single one of them supported the grand prix and wanted to extend it.
“By the time the race takes place, we'll have a mayor elected for the 2017-21 period. We know the candidates who are running and every one of them has already said they are going to sit down with Mr Ecclestone and try and extend the contract – normally it's a five-year extension.”