SAO PAULO (AP) — Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have entered a fierce competition over who will host the 2020 Formula One in Brazil, after President Jair Bolsonaro said the race would go back to Rio.
Two days after Bolsonaro's comments, state and city officials in Sao Paulo — where the race is currently held — published a statement Friday stressing that they had a valid contract with the organization until December 2020 and would fight to renew it after that.
"Since December 2018, the prefecture of Sao Paulo has been working on renewing the contract of the Brazilian Grand Prix of Formula One. There is a conviction that our good relationship will prevail. We do not know of any obstacles that may prevent this renewal," the joint statement read.
Bolsonaro said Wednesday that the contract with Sao Paulo was "unviable" due to the partnership's "huge debts," which has public participation.
He also assured that the construction of a new circuit in Rio, which would be built from scratch, could be ready in six to seven months, once the works begin. However, Rio Motorsports, the consortium that heads the project told The Associated Press that it would take between 16 and 17 months.
"There is no dispute with Rio or Bolsonaro, but how can you imagine that an investment that does not yet exist, is not projected or planned ... will get an international race track approved to organize the (Grand) Prix of Formula One in 2020? " Sao Paulo Gov. Joao Doria said during a news conference Friday.
Rio has not held Formula One since 1989.
"We will not give up being the host of F1. Sao Paulo has a history, a vocation, a history and in addition to that, one of the circuits better evaluated by the pilots. There is a contract, signed until 2020, with strict clauses and heavy fines if either party breaks the contract," Doria added.