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Bernie Ecclestone linked with bid to buy Interlagos F1 circuit

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Bernie Ecclestone linked with bid to buy Interlagos F1 circuit
Apr 6, 2017, 11:20 PM

The mayor of Sao Paulo has said that former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is expected to bid for the Interlagos grand prix track, which the Braz...

The mayor of Sao Paulo has said that former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is expected to bid for the Interlagos grand prix track, which the Brazilian city is selling off as part of its plan to improve public finances.

The Interlagos circuit has hosted 34 Brazilian Grand Prix events since 1973 but has been criticised in recent years for a lack of upgrades to its facilities. A sale would mean those changes could be completed along with a proposed new hotel, apartment complexes and a possible museum named after Ayrton Senna.

Ecclestone has close ties with the country, his wife is Brazilian, he has a ranch there and has close historic links with the race promoter.

Brazil is currently facing a severe financial crisis and it is clear that there is no public money available for F1 any more. Sao Paulo mayor Joao Doria suggested in an interview with Reuters that selling Interlagos into private ownership would guarantee F1’s continued presence in Brazil – which is currently the only South American country to host a round of the world championship. But other private promoters have faced difficulties in making money at other F1 events around the world in the past.

Sao Paulo Interlagos

Doria, who is a multi-millionaire media entrepreneur, said: "The privatisation of the track is the guarantee of the continuity of Formula 1. I understand that Formula 1 is important but with private money, not public money. It's perfectly possible for it to keep running with private money as a private track."

When asked about Ecclestone’s interest in the home of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Doria explained that he expected him to take part in the bidding process to find the circuit’s new owner.

He said: "[Ecclestone] showed interest. He's going to participate in the auction for the track. I have the impression that international funds are going to take part as well. I have no doubt that we will sell the Interlagos track, and sell it well."

Bernie Ecclestone

While Ecclestone confirmed that talks had taken place regarding his interest in buying Interlagos, he explained that he was yet to make a firm decision about entering the bidding process.

He said: "They want to sell. They’re not going to subsidise anything there. They’re not going to put any money into it. They want to get rid of it. I haven’t made any ‘yes, I’m going to buy’ or ‘no, I ain’t going to buy’ [choice]. We’ll wait and see.”

The Briton also told Reuters that he thinks F1’s new owners Liberty Media “are probably going to think about [buying Interlagos]”.

Felipe Massa 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

Ecclestone was made ‘chairman emeritus’ of F1 following the completion of Liberty’s takeover in January, but there is clearly tension between the two parties. The former F1 boss had previously indicated that he was going to help Liberty with the future of the Brazilian Grand Prix but it was not clear what that would involve.

Many of Formula One Management’s operational and legal employees are still based at the Princes Gate offices, which are owned by Ecclestone, but they will move to new premises near London’s Oxford Street in June.

Another story involving Ecclestone currently doing the rounds is his claim that he blocked plans for a grand prix in Vietnam partly because it has no motor sport history. This comes just a few weeks after Liberty CEO Greg Maffei criticised Ecclestone’s deal to hold a race in Baku, which also has little racing history.

 F1 flag

This raises questions about whether Liberty is indeed going to announce a deal with Vietnam and Ecclestone is pre-empting that development by getting his say out first. Such a race would be an attractive proposition for quite a few F1 sponsors, including Heineken.

What do you make of the news that Bernie Ecclestone has been linked with a deal to buy the Interlagos Circuit? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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