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F1 and Rio Motorsports reach provisional agreement over city race

Fans watch Spanish F1 driver Carlos Sainz powering his McLaren at the Interlagos racetrack (Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images)

Formula 1 has agreed a deal with Brazil-based motor sports investment business Rio Motorsports to stage events in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

In a letter to Cláudio Castro, the acting Governor of Rio de Janeiro, F1 chief executive Chase Carey confirmed that the series had “finalised race agreements” with Rio Motorsports to “host, stage and promote” events in the city.

The letter, which was reported by Brazil-based news website Motorsport.com, is dated September 14. In the letter, Carey informed Castro that the agreements are ready for announcement as soon as the necessary licences have been issued by city authorities.

No Brazilian Grand Prix will take place this year after F1 announced in July that it would not be staging any events in the Americas due to an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases. Races in the US and Mexico were also abandoned as F1 opted to add more events in Europe instead of travelling to the Americas.

The Brazilian Grand Prix is traditionally held at the Interlagos in São Paulo but the future of the race has been up in the air. Last year, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro claimed the country’s F1 race would move to Rio for this year, although promoters of the Interlagos grand prix had insisted that they were confident of extending their deal.

The Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet racecourse held Brazil’s F1 race in Rio on 10 occasions, most recently in 1989, before it was demolished to make way for facilities developed for the 2016 summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Despite an agreement having been reached between F1 and Rio Motorsports, the proposal is facing opposition from an environmental group as the planned new circuit would be based in the Camboata Forest and require the destruction of thousands of trees. The venue still requires approval from the relevant environmental authorities.

Carey said: “These agreements are ready for execution and announcement by Formula 1 as soon as all necessary licenses have been issued by the relevant authorities, INEA (State Institute of the Environment)/CECA (State Environmental Control Commission), in Brazil/Rio de Janeiro.”

The news comes after Rio Motorsports last month acquired exclusive F1 broadcast rights for a five-season cycle, from 2021 to 2025. Rio Motorsports is expected to look to sublicense the rights across pay-television, free-to-air and streaming platforms.

Rio Motorsports acquired rights after F1’s long-term rights-holder, media group Globo, announced to sponsors in August that it would not be renewing its rights.