By Arkady Petrov

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – “Bread and games” (from Latin: panem et circenses) is a metonymic phrase critiquing superficial appeasement.

Local and federal authorities are very much in favor of having a Grand Prix in Rio.
Local and federal authorities are very much in favor of having a Grand Prix in Rio.

In a political context, the phrase means to generate public approval, not by excellence in public service or public policy, but by diversion, distraction or by satisfying the most immediate or base requirements of a populace.

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro announced on Wednesday that Rio de Janeiro will host the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2020. This can also be seen in this context.

A return of F1 to Rio was alluded to recently by the state’s governor, Wilson Witzel, who said that he was very much in favor of seeing F1 move away from its current venue at Interlagos (São Paulo) and settle in Rio.

President Bolsonaro told the media that an agreement had been signed with Governor Wilson Witzel and Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella for the construction of a circuit located in the city’s Deodoro area. The new track could bear the name of Brazilian hero and F1 legend Ayrton Senna.

No budget has been set for the construction of the new racetrack that is to be designed by F1’s resident architect, Tilke Engineers & Architects. It is expected to be expensive though it is said to be entirely financed with private money.

When it comes to showing off, finding private investors seems to be a breeze, although rather impossible when addressing the education of a new generation

Model of the new Ayrton Senna Race Track in Rio.
Model of the new Ayrton Senna Race Track in Rio.

“The management of F1 has decided to maintain a Grand Prix in Brazil, but São Paulo has become impractical because of the event’s public financial support and the debt that exists over there,” Bolsonaro told reporters.

“The new racetrack will be built in six or seven months. The hotel sector will be happy, the state economy as well since six to seven thousand jobs will be generated. It is good for both Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.”

According to recent reports, far wealthier São Paulo will defend itself against the relocation of the Grand Prix by any means. More to follow.


  1. Pedantic, but the correct translation of “panem et circenses’ is bread and circuses. It refers to the Roman strategy of buying superficial approval. I doubt an F1 track is really going to appease the masses.

    It may be a boondoggle but it’s a privately funded one. Obviously, wealthy Brazilians think auto racing is sexier than education. This article is a bit superficial.


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