By Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The governor of São Paulo, João Doria, refuted president Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday, June 25th, and said that there is nothing fixed for Formula One races to be held in Rio de Janeiro as of 2021.
“I’m sorry to contradict the president, but no decision has been made, you have just heard this from the Formula One president,” said Doria.
On Monday, June 24th, President Bolsonaro said there is a “99 percent chance” that the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix race will be held in Rio de Janeiro as of 2021.
João Doria was critical of Rio de Janeiro’s bid to host the competition and pledged to uphold the state’s interest in hosting the event. “It is up to Bolsonaro to defend Brazil. It’s up to me to defend the interests of São Paulo,” he said.
The governor’s statement was made after a meeting with Bruno Covas, Mayor of São Paulo, and Chase Carey, CEO of Formula One, who is in Brazil to negotiate the future of the event in the country, along with state secretaries and other executives from the competition.
Chase Carey reaffirmed that franchise negotiations are still in progress and there is no time limit for setting the host city. The Brazilian Grand Prix, has been held in São Paulo since 1990 after being held in Rio de Janeiro. The city’s contract with the competition runs until the end of 2020.
“We are currently engaged in private conversations with both Rio and São Paulo to find the best solution for the continuity of the GP in Brazil as of 2021,” said Carey.
At a press conference after the meeting with Formula One executives and Governor João Doria, Bruno Covas said that the São Paulo City government is willing to do “the possible and the impossible” to keep the event in the city.
According to the mayor, the GP generated R$344 (US$86) million in revenue and approximately 10,000 jobs in São Paulo in 2018.
Doria also stated that he does not want to “belittle the word of the President, nor that of the governor of Rio de Janeiro,” but he criticized the infrastructure of the state, which will need to build a new racetrack to host the event.