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NOVEMBER 13, 2003

The battle to keep Brazil on the F1 calendar

The city of Sao Paulo and the race promoter have gone into action to overturn a court ruling that the race contract should be cancelled because the event loses money for the city. The promoter, Tamas Rohonyi, says that the court ruling will not ultimately affect the running of the event in 2004. But if he cannot have the ruling overturned quickly preparations for the event are going to cost his company International Promotions, a subsidiary of Globo TV, $17,000 a day in fines, which begin 30 days after the ruling.

"The legal system wants to know what Formula 1 brings to the city of Sao Paulo," said Rohonyi. "It is simple which is why countries all over the world queue up to get a place on the Formula 1 calendar."

The city's Secretary for Sport Nadia Campeao said that the authorities are going to put together documents to show the benefits of the event to the city.

"What surprises me is the judge's decision," she said, pointing out that the current contract with Formula One ends in 2004.

Rohonyi is believed to have had contacts with the authorities in Rio de Janeiro, in case a switch of venue is necessary.

"The city does not sponsor anything," says Paolo Scaglione, the president of the Confederacao Brasileira de Automobilismo, the national sporting authority. "The city invests to make sure that the circuit is up to the standard necessary for the Formula 1 race. That investment benefits the many people who use the track for national events as well."

The problem is that the race track was built in 1940 on land which has a tendency to subside and could not be used for building houses. The developers at the time decided to build a race track rather than leaving the land undeveloped. This means that Interlagos needs much more upkeep than some other racing circuits because new bumps appear almost every year as the ground moves.