Local promoter says Ecclestone's threats just a warning.
Brazilian Grand Prix promoter Tamas Rohonyi insists the future of his country’s Formula 1 race is safe, despite repeated comments from Bernie Ecclestone suggesting the 2017 event is in doubt.
On the back of Brazil’s economic difficulties, Ecclestone has said several times over recent weeks that there is a chance this year’s race at Interlagos could be the country’s last.
That is despite a firm contract between Ecclestone and Interlagos being in place that lasts until the end of 2020.
Speaking to Motorsport.com in the wake of Ecclestone’s recent remarks, Rohonyi has put the F1 supremo's comments down to simple a warning shot for the local government about future negotiations rather than a real threat to drop the race.
"I've known Bernie for 42 years and he is famous for these kind of statements where he doesn’t think too much before,” said Rohonyi.
“What Bernie is trying to say – but will never say directly – is that the costs of [holding a race] are rising. There is a demand from Formula One Management to increase the contribution from Brazil so what he wants is, with the government, to claim a higher subsidy.
“We do not have any conditions that allow us to break the contract, and neither does he. It can happen of course, but there would be a process to discuss damages.
“There would be problems on the side of our company, but also bigger problems for Sao Paulo. The city earns $120 million USD with the event.
“A breaking of the contract was never considered and never will be. It is not convenient for anybody.”
He added: “This is a bad moment for Brazil, and this explains in a way the frustration for Mr. Ecclestone. That is why he makes these strange statements. He had done it with Monza and other circuits.
“However, he knows that we have a contract with FOM. TV Globo has a contract with FOM, and all until 2020. He is looking at his own interests, but we have support from TV Globo and we always have a lot of strength in the commercial area. The track is always full and this year will not be any different.”
In fact, rather than the future of the race being in doubt, Rohonyi has said that his company is looking at extending the deal until 2025 or 2030.
“There is an option for renewal and I venture that the race will be here in 2020, 2025, 2030 and so on," he said.
Work on revamping the pits and paddock facilities are ongoing, and the latest phase should be completed by the end of September.
Interview by Gabriel Lima