MARCH 27, 2000
Changes ahead at Interlagos
THE Prefeitura de Sao Paulo, the organization which owns the Interlagos circuit and organizes the Brazilian Grand Prix, invested heavily in preparation for this year's event with major building work being carried out to extend the paddock and the complete resurfacing of the circuit.
We hear, however, that this is only the first step of a renovation program which will see the demolition of the existing pit buildings and the construction of a better facility. In addition the track is to be substantially altered to create a new infield section to give spectators in the huge grandstands along the high-speed straight which runs downhill from the Senna "S" to the Descida do Lago lefthander better spectating. At the moment the area in the middle of the track is largely wasteland but if all goes to plan the Descida corner will become a hairpin and a return leg of track will run parallel with the straight up the hill to a new 180-degree curling right-hander which will lead onto another downhill section with a kink which will rejoin the current track at the fast left-hander after Descida, turning this into another hairpin. The work will include the filling-in of part of a lake in order to provide the necessary run-off at the second new hairpin.
The new section will extend the lap time (which will increase the lap times by around 10 seconds) thus making the track safer as it will give race control more time to react in the event of an accident and it will also slow down the Descida section where the existing run-off was not sufficient for the speed of the cars in that section.
The Prefeitura is probably investing in the track, which has been chronically underfunded over the years, because the long-term aim is to sell it. There have been rumors for some time that Bernie Ecclestone might be interested in buying and it is worth noting that the rebuilding work done this year was carried out by a British contractor to try to ensure better quality. Interlagos has always suffered from bumps which is not surprising given the fact that the circuit was built on land which was deemed to be unsuitable for the construction of houses because of subsidence problems.
There was some excitement during the Grand Prix weekend as the Prefect of the city, Dr. Celso Roberto Pitta do Nascimento, spent the weekend trying to avoid being served with papers to suspend him from office while there is an investigation into allegations from Pitta's embittered ex-wife that he received money is exchange for political favors.