Surprised Felipe Massa unsure if F1 will make Rio move

Brazil’s most recent Formula 1 racer Felipe Massa says he is “still surprised” by reports that his country’s grand prix could be set to move to Rio de Janeiro.

Massa raced in Formula 1 from 2002 through 2017 for Sauber, Ferrari and Williams, finishing runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in the 2008 championship.

Massa famously triumphed in the Brazil 2008 finale at Interlagos – only to miss out on the title in dramatic circumstances – and he also won on home turf during his first year with Ferrari in 2006.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro recently declared that the country’s grand prix will move to a new purpose-built circuit in the Deodoro district on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

Bolsonaro proclaimed that the grand prix would move there in 2020 but this is deemed unlikely due to the short time frame involved, while Interlagos holds a contract for next season.

“First of all, when I heard it the first time it was very strange,” Massa, now competing in Formula E, 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.

“When I heard 2021, it can be possible. 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.

“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.”

Massa nonetheless conceded that it would be a shame if Interlagos, which has hosted Formula 1 since 1990, dropped from the calendar.

“I will miss Interlagos because it is one of the best races,” he said.

“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.”