What about the popularity of F1 in Brazil? "Verstappen and Norris have many fans'

28-06-2020 15:54 | Updated: 28-06-2020 15:59
by GPblog.com
What about the popularity of F1 in Brazil? Verstappen and Norris have many fans'

For decades, Brazil was one of the court suppliers of F1 drivers. Not infrequently they became champions. Unfortunately, in recent years there are no Brazilians on the grid anymore. Why is that? GPblog.com asked Rafael Lopes, Brazilian motorsport publisher for Globo.

After the departure of Felipe Massa there is unfortunately no Brazilian driving in Formula 1. Which Brazilian is the next driver to conquer a fixed F1 seat, do you think?

"This is the one million dollar question. I think the two closest ones are precisely Sérgio Sette Câmara, reserve driver of Red Bull and AlphaTauri, and Pietro Fittipaldi, reserve driver of Haas. They are very well positioned to get there. We also have to keep an eye on Pedro Piquet, who will race in Formula 2 this year, and Caio Collet, managed by Nicolas Todt, a member of the Renault academy and who will race in Formula Renault this year. These are the main names."

Is there still a lot of Brazilian talent driving around in the junior classes?

"Despite the financial crisis that the country is experiencing for some years, we still have good talent in the lower categories. But it is a fact that the financial issue influences badly. To be in a good position to get to Formula 1, you need to be well positioned to try a spot in the F1 driver programs. And for that you need to be in Europe from an early age. And with an unfavorable exchange rate, the task is even more complicated. One good option for them is to make a career in Brazil. Today you can be a professional and earn a good salary at the Stock Car. For this reason, when the situation is complicated in financial terms, some make the choice to pursue a career inside the country. This is the scenario."

Pietro Fittipaldi has again been appointed as test driver at Haas F1. Is he going to get the chance to drive free practice next season?

"From what I know, Pietro has the intention to try to participate in free practices this year. However, there is still nothing concrete about it or a fixed number of activities. But he is well evaluated internally by the engineering team and the Haas bosses and I believe he will have a chance this year."

Will he have a chance to work for Haas F1 or another team in the future? Hasn't he achieved a lot of results in appealing race classes in recent years?

"I think Pietro is well placed to get a starting place. Haas has one of the most unstable pairs on the current grid. And Romain Grosjean, who does not take sponsorship for the team and has been making too many mistakes in recent years, will start the season under pressure. In view of this situation, I think he has a good chance. But it will depend on his performance."

Has the popularity of Formula 1 strongly decreased in Brazil now that there is no Brazilian driver anymore?

"To tell you the truth, no. In recent years, the audience on TV and on the internet has grown considerably, in addition to the success of ticket sales at the Brazilian GP. The motosports public formed in the last almost 50 years here is quite loyal. In addition, the category's idols have been gaining fans here, especially the younger ones, like Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris. Not to mention Lewis Hamilton, who has a huge fan base here. It is obvious that if a Brazilian were winning, we would have even more interest. But the audience has been growing in recent years."

Lucas Di Grassi and Felipe Massa drive in Formula E. Is there still a bit of attention for that in Brazil.

"I think Formula E still has growth potential here. The category is shown by a subscription channel, which reduces the reach compared to Formula 1, which is shown on free TV. But interest in Formula E in the motoring public only grows. There is still a lot of prejudice, it is true, mainly due to the lack of noise. But it is being overcome."

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