The IZOD IndyCar Series has released details of the new street circuit that will play host to this year's season opener in Sao Paulo, Brazil on March 14.
A portion of the 2.6-mile, 11-turn circuit in the Anhembi (north-central) section of the city incorporates the Sambodromo – permanent grandstands lining the route that are primarily used for the colorful parades during Sao Paulo's Carnival – that will include the start/finish line and form one of the three long straights. The backstretch is nine-tenths of a mile, leading into a sharp right-hand turn into the Sambodromo.
"Two of the long straightaways have relatively slow corners leading onto them," said track designer Tony Cotman, who is overseeing its construction through his new company, NZR Consulting. "There are some good 90-degree turns at the end of the straights and, on one occasion, a little tighter than that.
"It's a track that's challenging but can create some exciting racing and will provide a challenge for the teams deciding on their downforce levels for both qualifying and the race," Cotman added. "Less downforce generally means less grip. Combine that with the longest straightaway of any track in the IZOD IndyCar Series and overtaking should be exciting. It should be a spectacular sight for the fans at Turn 11 watching the cars braking from about 185mph to 50mph as they enter the Sambodromo.
"Running through the middle of the stadium that hosts Carnival, which holds about 30,000 people, I think will be an electric atmosphere for the drivers. That portion of the track through the stadium is concrete and everywhere else will be asphalt, so there will be some surface changes. That's always good for the racing. From the grandstand perspective, how could you have run around it or not use it?"
The design has received positive response from Team Penske's Helio Castroneves, a native of the state of Sao Paulo, who plans to tour the site this week.
"With long straightaways, it's certainly going to be fast and you definitely will have challenges," he said after reviewing the circuit map. "No question it will be a good race and the people are so excited to have 'Formula Indy' come to Brazil."
Representatives of the state and city and event promotional partner Bandeirantes (Brazilian TV network) echoed those comments during a presentation at the Indy Racing League season preview meeting earlier this month.
"Brazilians love motor racing and most Brazilians know the names of the drivers – not only the five Brazilian drivers in the series, but all of them, the cars they drive and even the owners of the teams," said Milton Longobardi, director of marketing for the São Paulo Tourism board. "This is really exciting for the people of São Paulo; they're waiting for the race and very proud to host the opening of the 2010 season."
The circuit is being constructed in four sections based on events in the area, to limit hindering the flow of traffic in a city with more than seven million vehicles. A convention center and major hotel inside the circuit will be utilized by teams, series officials and event promoters.
"Everybody we're working with is incredibly motivated to showcase the event," Cotman said. "I'm sure there will be some fine-tuning in the future, but to be perfectly honest it's no different than going to any of the temporary circuits where we currently race. It will be fast. It will be fun. It will be exciting. It will be safe. Most importantly, from a fan's perspective, they'll see a lot of action."