Rio's city hall picks company to build track eyeing F1 race

By Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Rio de Janeiro's city hall selected a group of companies to build a new track that could eventually host a Formula One race, a move that could still be challenged in courts.

Official city hall records published Tuesday say the Rio MotorSports group was the only bidder for the job of building a track in northern Rio.

The group also issued a statement confirming it will build and operate the track in the region of Deodoro for 35 years.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said this month that the new track could be used to host F1 and MotoGP races, and suggested it should be named after three-time F1 champion Ayrton Senna.

Rio has not hosted an F1 race since 1989 but is hoping to win back the Brazilian Grand Prix from Sao Paulo's Interlagos track when its contract with the sport ends in 2020.

Organizers of the Brazilian Grand Prix insist they are already in negotiations with F1's new owners Liberty Media to extend the contract with Interlagos for another 10 years.

Rio prosecutors said they will challenge the city hall's decision based on environmental issues. The Camboata forest sits right next to the region where the track could be built.

Rio MotorSports said "there will be a proper moment for technical evaluation and approval of the environmental license to the construction of the track."

Rio's Jacarepagua autodrome hosted Brazil's F1 race from 1978 to 1989 before it was moved to Sao Paulo. Jacarepagua was destroyed for the construction of Rio's Olympic Park under the promise the city would soon get a new track for auto racing.

The estimated cost of the new venue is of $170 million, which could help boost Rio's crumbling economy. Officials have promised there will be no public spending on the project.

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Updated May 21, 2019

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