SAO PAULO • The mayor of Sao Paulo plans to sell the aging Interlagos Formula One track to guarantee the future of the Brazilian Grand Prix and expects the sport's former commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone to bid.
Ecclestone, speaking separately in London, confirmed the talks but said he had made no decision either way and suggested Formula One's new owner, Liberty Media, could also be interested.
Mayor Joao Doria said the city-owned circuit was included in a 7 billion reais (S$3.1 billion) package of privatisations sought by Sao Paulo as the metropolis cleans up its finances amid the country's worst recession in more than a century.
Interlagos hosts the only South American race on the calendar.
A sale would allow an upgrade to the facilities, with authorisation to build a hotel, luxury apartments and a museum named after Brazil's three-time world champion Ayrton Senna, who died at Imola in Italy in 1994.
"The privatisation of the track is the guarantee of the continuity of Formula One," Doria, a multi-millionaire media entrepreneur, said.
"I understand that Formula One is important but with private money, not public money. It's perfectly possible for it to keep running with private money as a private track."
Doria and Ecclestone both said they had discussed the sale.
The 86-year-old British billionaire is married to a Brazilian and owns a ranch in the country.
"He showed interest. He's going to participate in the auction for the track," Doria said. "I have the impression that international funds are going to take part as well. I have no doubt that we will sell the Interlagos track, and sell it well."