Argentina are aiming to return to the Formula 1 scene by 2014, if work continues as planned on the new circuit in Zarate, around 100km away from the capital, Buenos Aires. Since 1998, when Michael Schumacher won the grand prix at the Autodromo Oscar Alfredo Galvez, Argentina has missed out on the opportunity to host a race, and they are eager to join Brazil as the only other South American country to get a place on the calendar.
Last Friday a ceremony was held to celebrate the start of the work on the Velociudad Speedcity circuit. The circuit is being built by the design company Populous, who recently supervised the redesign of the Silverstone circuit, and who are also working on a Mumbai circuit. Associate director of Populous John Rhodes believes that once work is complete, the track should be up to the challenge of hosting an F1 event, and at that point it must attract the attention of the FIA organisers.
“The plan is for a circuit capable of delivering a Formula 1 event,” said Rhodes. “Once the facility is there, then it’s down to a promoter.” The construction will happen in two distinct stages, firstly a slightly shorter track for hosting MotoGP events, and then an extra section will be completed to lengthen the track so it is ideal for F1, as Rhodes explains.
“The issue is to have a high performance circuit capable of holding a MotoGP then add the necessary requirements for a Formula 1 race,” he said. “The main 4.7 km circuit will be good for F1 and endurance races like Le Mans, it’s a good, sensible length.”
The success of the newly added Indian grand prix will be a big boost to other developing countries with F1 aspirations. The Buddh International circuit hosted its first race this year in October, and Formula 1 received a rapturous welcome. The race went smoothly, with the inaugural win being claimed by Sebastian Vettel, and was a clear message to the FIA that there are many new cultures to explore and open up by granting them an F1 grand prix.