BAKU (Reuters) - The Brazilian Grand Prix at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit could be axed after this season due to the country’s economic crisis, Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Saturday.
“I think the chances are that it won’t happen next year,” the 85-year-old Briton, whose wife is Brazilian, told reporters in oil-rich Azerbaijan where the sport is making its debut this weekend.
Brazil, home of champions Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and the late Ayrton Senna, has had an unbroken run on the calendar since 1973 with the race held in Rio de Janeiro in 1978 and from 1981 to 1989.
Rio’s Jacarapagua circuit has been demolished with the area redeveloped for this year’s Olympic Games.
Interlagos organizers have carried out improvements to the ramshackle pit and paddock facilities but some of the changes sought by Ecclestone have not happened due to financial reasons.
Brazil, whose race is Formula One’s only South American round, is going through its worst recession since the 1930s and a political crisis that last month led to the suspension of President Dilma Rousseff.
Ecclestone said talks continued with neighboring Argentina, a Buenos Aires race that was dropped in 1998 due to the country’s financial difficulties.
“We are talking to them all the time. We can have a race there but where they are suggesting is not where we want to be. We want to be in the main part (of Buenos Aires),” he said.
The future of Italy, home to the sport’s oldest and most successful team Ferrari, remained uncertain with Monza yet to sign a new deal and the current contract expiring after this September’s race.
Ecclestone said he hoped Italy stayed on the calendar, possibly with a race at Imola -- the circuit where Senna died in 1994.
“We’ve spoken to them, obviously,” he said of that circuit near Bologna.
“We need to rely a little bit on the national sporting authority in the country to support it. If it doesn’t happen in Monza and they want to support Imola, we’d be happy to be in Imola.”
Ecclestone could not say what the chances were of that happening, but said Imola was doing a lot of work to upgrade the facilities there and would be good enough if given the go-ahead.
Asked whether Monza had a deadline, he replied: “They know when it is. We have to put them on the calendar or not.”
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly