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What Helped the Sao Paulo Grand Prix Stay on the Calendar Until 2030?

Written by Jenny Clynes, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

On the Friday of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix weekend, Formula One announced the contract extension of the event until 2030. The contract with the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace was set to expire in 2025, but has now been granted a five-year extension, locking it into an increasingly packed annual race calendar.

Credit - Formula One on X

The racing circuit in the Interlagos area of the city boasts one of the most exciting and challenging tracks on the Formula One race calendar. The track is unique for many reasons, including its elevation, it is one of the highest tracks on the calendar, and one of shortest too, at a length of just 4.3kms (2.7miles).

Within this distance are 15 corners, ranging from sweeping turns, some witnessing iconic moments over the years, to harsh braking zones. It is also the home of the iconic Senna Esses at turns one and two, named after the iconic native Ayrton Senna. These turns are sharp, downhill, and at the end of the start finish straight, providing immense action and excitement.

The Interlagos track initially took inspiration from the iconic tracks around the world, but since the creation of the Senna Esses, many other circuits have adopted these challenging turns. From a viewer's perspective, the huge grandstands and high pit wall create a mesmerising atmosphere.

Credits - Formula One

This unique and encapsulating atmosphere is the result of the race being the favourite on the calendar for many fans and drivers alike. This is due to the mixture of a rich history, sensational culture, and Sao Paulo being the stage for many iconic Formula One moments.

The first race at the Interlagos circuit was in 1972, and was named the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, after the 1975 race winner. However, the circuit was not initially a staple on the calendar, only officially becoming an annual race in 1990, thanks to Sao Paulo native Ayrton Senna. Overall, including this past weekend, Sao Paulo has been the host of 38 Grands-Prix, making it truly iconic. And many drivers, including Lewis Hamilton have declared that Sao Paulo is a very special place for them.

Since the Sao Paulo Grand Prix used to be the final race of the Formula One season, there have been a huge number of iconic moments along the confines of the track, including Ayrton Senna emotionally winning his first Brazilian Grand Prix in 1991, and had to be lifted out of his car due to sheer exhaustion after a draining battle after he suffered gearbox issues.

Sao Paulo has also been the site for several records over the years, including Fernando Alonso becoming the youngest World Driver Champion in 2005, and then Lewis Hamilton beating this record around the same track in 2008, another pulsating Interlagos finale to remember.

It is where Sebastian Vettel set a record for the most consecutive Grands-Prix wins, winning his ninth race in a row in 2013, a decade-long record. And in 2022, George Russell took his maiden race win in the sport. For the vast majority of Formula One fans, Sao Paulo holds a special place in their hearts because of its infamous list of emotional and breathtaking moments.

Senna after winning his home race for the first time; Image Credits - Formula One

The announcement of the contract extension has been celebrated by many across the world, as there were discussions that the Grand Prix may have been relocated to Rio de Janeiro after 2025. Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsanaro was a huge advocate for moving the race to the recent Olympic Games host city.

However many people spoke out against this plan, including Lewis Hamilton, and the proposal was denied by Formula One’s commercial manager, Sean Bratches, as the proposed track involved deforestation - an issue that is already greatly impacting the nation of Brazil.

What makes the Sao Paulo Grand Prix such an exciting event on the Formula One calendar is that Brazil brings such an amazing energy and culture to the race. The Grand Prix is famous for its packed and lively atmosphere, with a crowd of 230,000 people attending the racing festivities in 2023. In addition, Sao Paulo has quickly become a favourite for sprint race weekends, with three exciting sprint races to boot, in three seasons.

The contract extension keeps this atmosphere alive until the next decade, and also brings the promise of more opportunity for the city and its citizens. The track has already undergone vast developments, with the paddock being renovated at an estimated cost of $32.7 million. However, the city hopes to renovate the site even further, in order to bring in more events, such as festivals and concerts throughout the year.

This also brings the hope of more jobs, tourism and revenue, as the Grand Prix alone is estimated to bring in around 1.5 billion Reals in revenue each year — benefitting hundreds of thousands of people. The contract extension also brings the hope of more opportunity and social initiatives to the local people.

This was witnessed before the 2023 race weekend, when over 100 local women from at-risk backgrounds graduated as fully trained mechanics, as a result of an initiative from promoters in Brazil, in partnership with the institution of Escola de Mecanico. Hopefully in the upcoming years that Formula One is racing in Sao Paulo, we see more and more of these wonderful and empowering stories.

Image Credit - Formula One

Upon the announcement, Formula One Chief Executive Stefano Domenicali stated that the Sao Paulo Grand Prix “embodies everything that is great about racing, and [they] look forward to seeing how it develops over the years to come”.

Overall, the Sao Paulo Grand Prix has promised to keep fans on the edge of their seats from lights out to the chequered flag, and with this exciting announcement, will continue to do so until the end of the decade.


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