The Brazilian Grand Prix has gone from high to low in a matter of weeks, following a local judge's ruling that the event is harmful to the economy of host city Sao Paulo.

Having only recently been confirmed as the stage for the finale of next season's Formula One world championship, Interlagos finds its event suspended, not by the FIA, but by a judge Jo?o Andr? de Vicenzo, who has ruled that the cost of hosting the grand prix was harmful to the city's finances. As part of the ruling, the judge has annulled the contract between the region and the race organisers, with financial penalties to be levied should the annulment not be adhered to.

Since returning to the F1 calendar in 1990, Interlagos has undergone a transformation from run-down venue to fully-fledged GP circuit, but is in constant need of remedial work to keep its place on the schedule. Its appointment as host to the season finale next year was greeted with some scepticism in other quarters, but was expected to be warmly welcomed by the Sao Paulo authorities. Instead, they have chosen to place the event in jeopardy.

Although no word has been forthcoming from the FIA regarding the legal action, any problem for the South American event may provide a convenient get-out should the governing body decide to reduce the calendar back to 17 events. It currently proposes an unheard of 18-race schedule following the reinstatement of both Belgium and Canada for 2004.

The Brazilian GP has already survived the possible threat of anti-tobacco legislation, courtesy of an exemption for Formula One, and the local newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reports that efforts to overturn the latest ruling are already in motion, with the secretary of sports pointing out that the problem stems from the 2000 event, staged under the management of former mayor Celso Pitta.

 

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