Massa ‘really surprised’ by sudden Brazilian GP move to Rio
Former F1 driver Felipe Massa says his first reaction to the news of the Brazilian Grand Prix’s potential transfer from Sao Paulo to Rio was one of utter surprise.
Earlier this month, out of the blue, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro took to Twitter to announce that the Brazilian Grand Prix would take place at Rio from 2020 at a venue to be built on the outskirts of the city.
Massa admitted it wasn’t so much the choice of Rio that startled him but rather the 2020 term, a period for which it would be nearly impossible to build and complete a new racing facility according to the Brazilian driver.
“First of all, when I heard it the first time it was very strange,” Massa told Motorsport Week.
“I just heard our president saying on Twitter that in Rio de Janeiro they will build a new track next year.
“I said that this will never happen. 2020, building the track in eight months, even one year. You cannot say impossible, but almost impossible. I was really, really surprised.”
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However, a 2021 deadline puts a round of the F1 world championship in Rio in the realm of possibilities said Massa.
“When I heard 2021, it can be possible,” he added.
“The only thing is that we need to build the track, we need to understand who is putting the money in because it should be from the private point of view and not money from the government which I think is in writing anyway.
“There are so many things you need to do in Rio such as improving the city. That is more important than putting the money into the track.
“If it’s in the private point of view then yes, that is nice to have.
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“A new track is always a fantastic feel so now we need to understand the contract, we need to understand everything around that.
“What I can say is that I always welcome Rio as an important city for the track. I don’t like the area that they are going to build the track.”
Interlagos, the historic home of the Brazilian Grand Prix since 1990, has already said that it will fight Rio’s challenge, insisting its current contract with F1 runs until the end of next year.
The Sao Paulo venue was the scene of Massa’s near triumph in the world championship in 2008, the former Ferrari driver winning the race but losing the title on the last to McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.
“I will miss Interlagos because it is one of the best races,” said the 38-year-old who now races in Formula E for Venturi.
“We always have incredible races. Overtaking, the show, enjoyment from the drivers.
“If it’s an important thing for the country, it’s welcome but we’ll wait and see how it’s going to happen. I’m still a bit surprised but let’s wait and see.”
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