SP GP breaks attendance record in the pandemic and becomes political advertising

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Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, which has already left more than 611,000 people dead in the country, the São Paulo GP registered a record attendance with the presence of 181,711 spectators over the three days of the event, from Friday (12) to Sunday (14). The information was released by the organization of the event.

In the previous edition, that of 2019, the Interlagos race track had received a total audience of 158,213, including the three days of races. The record so far had been set in 2001.

In that season, in the presence of 174 thousand people, the main motorsport category brought together four Brazilian drivers: Tarso Marques, Luciano Burti, Rubens Barrichello and Enrique Bernoldi.

There is no official number of those present on each of the three GP days. With a capacity for 60,000 people, the racecourse in the south of São Paulo, with grandstands full this Sunday, became the sporting event with the largest number of people in the state during the pandemic.

Before, the brand belonged to the duel between Corinthians and Chapecoense at the Neo Química Arena, on the last day 1, for the Campeonato Brasileiro, with 39,734 paying fans. The day of the game coincided with the authorization for stadiums to receive their maximum audience capacity in the state.

For the same competition, the game between Alético-MG and América, in Belo Horizonte, last Sunday (7), brought together 60,142 payers at Mineirão.

In one of the most exciting races of F1, in which the English driver Lewis Hamilton, from Mercedes, showed the power of reaction to come out with the victory and touch the leader Max Verstappen, from Red Bull, the public was able to kill their nostalgia for the modality. In 2020, the Brazilian stage was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is the first big event in São Paulo, practically, in two years, that we were promoting together with F1”, said Governor João Doria (PSDB), as soon as he arrived in Interlagos this Sunday.

The public could only enter the racecourse with proof of vaccination (two doses or a single dose). For those who took only one dose, it was necessary to present a negative test (including children aged 5 to 12 years), being mandatory the antigen type, performed within 24 hours before each access to the racecourse, or the RT-PCR exam, performed within 48 hours before each access.

At least four tents offered testing in the vicinity of the racecourse – the antigen test for a cost of R$ 80 and the RT-PCR for R$ 280. The latter is accompanied by a report and was preferred by foreigners who, after the race, they would travel by plane to return to their respective countries.

The use of a mask was mandatory, with relaxation only during meals. However, there were those who ignored the requirement under all circumstances.

The Italian Stefano Domenicali, head of FOM (Formula One Management), the commercial arm of F1, revealed, in Interlagos, that the holding of the GP was threatened and was only confirmed in July this year.

“I didn’t forget that we had to make a very complicated decision in July, and the governor [João Doria] assured us that the city would be ready to receive a large audience. That’s the only way we can hit the hammer,” said Domenicali. “There is so much energy in Interlagos, you can feel it in every corner of the racecourse.”

The Italian’s charm with the São Paulo GP fell like a glove to Governor João Doria (PSDB), who has taken advantage of the contract renewal signed by the city hall with the FOM to ensure the permanence of the main category of motorsport in Brazil for the next ten years.

The current agreement between the city hall and the commercial arm of F1 encompasses the seasons from 2021 to 2025, with the possibility of renewal for another five years.

Previously exempt from the promoter fee (fee), City Hall had to pay FOM US$ 25 million (R$ 138 million) for each edition of the GP in the new contract. Of this amount, the state government pledged to deposit US$ 10 million (R$ 55 million). In return, it received four advertising boards in Interlagos, and managed to collect R$ 18 million from the sale of three of them to business groups.

Rio de Janeiro, with the commitment of President Jair Bolsonaro (no party), even showed interest in hosting the category race.

The Rio Motorsports consortium even made a proposal to the FOM, but the one who closed the deal, in the end, was the city of São Paulo.

“I contradicted the president of the Republic, and F1 will be in São Paulo,” said Doria last Wednesday (10), at Palácio dos Bandeirantes. Hours before the race starts this Sunday, the toucan went back to needling Bolsonaro. “Here at the Interlagos racetrack, only vaccinated people can enter and the President of the Republic of Brazil, as you know, is not there.”

The city also capitalized on the event by advertising its immunization campaign. According to Mayor Ricardo Nunes (MDB), at least 96% of the population of São Paulo over 18 years old received the second dose.

Employees in city hall uniform circulated around the racecourse with a small poster and the following sentence: “São Paulo, the vaccine capital of the world”.

As a way of justifying the use of public money to sponsor the holding of the São Paulo GP, the governor and mayor say that it is one of the most profitable events for the capital — ahead, for example, of Carnival.

However, the size of this revenue is still unclear. On Wednesday, Doria had said it would be R$810 million. This Sunday, he increased the value to R$ 1 billion. According to the toucan, FGV should audit and present this data in the coming days.

The city hall, in addition to paying most of the fee —US$ 15 million (R$ 83 million) — will pass on R$ 20 million annually to the promoter of F1 in Interlagos, MC Brazil Motorsport Holding. It is she who is responsible for assembling the structure and organization of the race.

For repairs at the Interlagos racetrack, which also receives other motorsport categories, the municipal administration spent an additional R$ 10 million.

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