The promoters of the Brazilian GP were under threat of losing the Sao Paulo race until they agreed last year to implement an $80m upgrade to the circuit. The new deal sees the Brazilian GP remain in Sao Paulo until 2020.
For this year’s race, the old cramped pit lane complex has been replaced with larger garages and facilities built to a 21st century specification. There was talk of moving the pit lane into the infield area, because there was more space for the paddock, however the final decision saw the circuit retain its classic start finish line positioned in front of the old garages.
Bernie Ecclestone visited the new complex following the Mexican GP and had this to say about the new developments: “The teams will be over the moon with the facilities here. In the past I was very sad with the criticism of the teams about the structure, it was worse the other tracks. I appreciate the effort.”
The local government has paid for these renovations and the Sao Paulo mayor, Fernando Haddad, expressed his content with the solution. “I think the solution that we found is the best. I’m more than satisfied with the results that we achieved. Everything is on the schedule that we discussed with the technical teams. The new complex of the pit lane will be completed in 2016.”
Compared to the Silverstone deal which runs to 2025, the Brazil GP contract extension was relatively short and discounted too. However, Bernie Ecclestone believes the on-going renovations of the ageing Interlagos circuit will see Brazil on the F1 calendar for the long term.
“I always felt Brazilian,” the F1 supremo jested. “We’ve been here about 40 times. I think we haven’t missed anything. It’s going to continue. And now I think that people will be more interested. We just need to get Globo (Brazilian TV network) a bit more enthusiastic”.
Globo were close to quitting their F1 coverage last year, and at the last minute renewed their contract to cover F1 in Brazil until 2020. However, due to a drastic fall in Brazilian TV viewers, they have reduced their live broadcasts to covering qualifying and the race only.
Ecclestone urges Globo to reinstate their comprehensive broadcasting coverage stating, “It needs to be like that. Mexico is in a way what the Brazilians are. Globo need to be behind the things a little bit. “Plus, I think we have to put a much better show. We need at least two guys racing. In McLaren in the old days we had two guys racing.”
This appears to be a reference to Lewis Hamilton’s dominance over the past two seasons. However, the collapse in F1 TV viewers is little to do with either Hamilton or Globo’s decision to restrict live F1 coverage – but is reflected worldwide as Formula One continues to fail in its understanding of how to properly broadcast the sport and stem the loss of the fans.