Image: Jen_ross83 / Wikimedia Commons
Image: Jen_ross83 / Wikimedia Commons

Lewis Hamilton opposes the construction of new Rio track

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has opposed the proposed construction of a new circuit in Rio de Janeiro due to the environmental impact of the project.

F1 is planning to add a race new circuit in Rio to the calendar in the near future, likely to replace the existing Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. The contract for the existing track expires this year, and Interlagos’ promoter does not have a good relationship with Liberty Media, the sport’s new bosses.

Rio did previously have a racetrack, the Jacarepagua circuit, but it was demolished to make way for facilities for the 2016 Olympics.

The planned construction of the new track at Deodoro, a disused military base, would involve the felling of 70,000 trees, which has resulted in mounting public opposition to the proposal. A petition against the development has gathered more than 20,000 signatures in Brazil.

The construction of the planned circuit will require a number of trees to be uprooted

When asked about the possibility of a race in Rio, Hamilton said that he had hoped not to receive the question before outlining his opposition to the plans.

He said: “My personal opinion is that the world doesn’t need a new circuit. I think there’s plenty of circuits in the world that are great. I love Interlagos. I have been to Rio, and it’s a beautiful, beautiful place. I don’t know all the details of it. I heard it’s potentially going to be sustainable.

“But the most sustainable thing you can do is not tear down any trees, particularly in a time where we’re fighting a pandemic, and there continues to be a global crisis around the world. I don’t think with deforestation and everything, I don’t think it’s a smart move. I don’t have the details of why, but it’s not something I personally support.”

According to the race promoter, Rio Motorsports, the construction of the planned circuit will require a number of trees to be uprooted, but plans are in place to replant them and create a larger greenfield site.

In a statement, it said: “The suppression of these 70,000 trees will be compensated by planting another 700,000 thousand trees, part of them within the land itself, which will make the area with vegetation larger than it is today. In addition, about 810,000m2 of land – the equivalent of 75 football fields – will be used entirely with adopting conservationist and preservationist practices in support of the natural heritage.”

It was also stated that the promoter intends to make Deodoro the first zero-carbon circuit on the calendar and that they will develop a sustainability and environmental protection centre to educate the population.

The deal for Rio Motorships to run a new Grand Prix has been agreed on the condition that it is granted permission to build the track from local authorities, according to a letter from F1 CEO Chase Carey.

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