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Future of Brazilian GP at Interlagos in doubt

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SAO PAULO (AP) The long-term future of the Brazilian Grand Prix is up in the air.

The Interlagos track, which hosted its first Formula One race in 1972, is due to be sold early next year. Although F1 has a contract through 2020, no one seems to know what will happen after that.

“The contract will be respected because it is an obligation of whoever buys the track,” said Sao Paulo Mayor Joao Doria, refusing to divulge who the buyers are. “We hope that afterward we are able to extend for another 10 years.”

Doria said the sale of Interlagos, which sits on an area of almost 1 million square meters, is “irreversible” and should happen in early 2018. The track is expected to be preserved after the sale, while apartment buildings will be added to the complex.

Sao Paulo city councilors, however, have argued that the real estate could be more profitable after privatization, and that could mean the end for a track that was inaugurated in 1940.

It is also unknown who the potential new owners are and what they think about the mayor’s project for post-privatization.

Some estimate the sale of the Interlagos track, which many consider a burden to taxpayers because it hasn’t been profitable in years, could raise up to $600 million.

Brazilian GP organizer Tamas Rohonyi said other venues could replace Interlagos in case the new owners fail to extend the contract with F1, but he did not provide details.

“What I am sure of is that without F1, Interlagos would be dead,” Rohonyi said. “And we just don’t know who will be at the table to discuss that.”

Rohonyi said he thinks the unknown new owners will want to keep F1 at Interlagos, while Formula One boss Chase Carey said “there is a great future for Brazil in F1.”

The Brazilian GP has struggled with low ratings at home and less money from sponsors in recent years. Next season, there will be no local driver in the grid for the first time since 1969, which could make Brazilians even less interested.

But tickets sales were brisk once again this year, despite little being at stake since Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton had already won the title.

Another issue at Interlagos is security, something that made headlines this year after members of the Mercedes team said they were mugged at gunpoint as they left track.

Doria said privatization will make the track safer and organizers more accountable.

Could Scott Dixon someday break Foyt, Andretti wins and championships records?

IndyCar
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With five races left in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon is in the driver’s seat to potentially earn a fifth career IndyCar championship.

After winning Sunday at Toronto, Dixon now has a 62-point edge over second-ranked and defending series champ Josef Newgarden and a 70-point lead over third-ranked Alexander Rossi.

The triumph north of the border was Dixon’s third there, as well as his 44th career IndyCar win, third-highest in IndyCar annals.

Add in the four IndyCar championships and those are stellar numbers indeed.

What makes things all the more amazing is Dixon has done all that in under 18 full seasons on the IndyCar circuit. Heck, he’s only 37 years old, too (although he turns 38 on July 22).

Dixon’s championships have come in 2003 (his first full season in IndyCar after two prior seasons in CART/Champ Car), 2008, 2013 and most recently in 2015.

The quiet, unassuming New Zealander has been one of the most successful drivers ever not just in IndyCar, but in all forms of motorsports.

When his name is mentioned, it’s typically included with the only two drivers who have more career wins than he does: A.J. Foyt (67 wins and seven championships, both records) and Mario Andretti (52 wins and four titles).

That’s a pretty lofty pair to be part of.

One might think that after all the success he’s had, Dixon could easily walk away from IndyCar and Chip Ganassi Racing and enjoy an early retirement.

But competing in and winning races isn’t really a job for Dixon. He enjoys what he’s doing so much that he easily could keep doing what he’s doing – and at a high level – for another seven or more years, at least.

So, can Dixon catch Mario and A.J.? The former would be easier than the latter, for sure.

Numerically, it’s possible – at least part of it:

* Dixon can easily be competitive into his mid-40s.

* He’s averaged three-plus wins every season since 2007 (37 wins from then through Sunday). That means if he can keep that average going, he could reach 24 more wins – to overtake Foyt – by 2026. Yes, that may be a stretch to even imagine, but if there’s any current driver who potentially could overtake Foyt, it’s Dixon.

* Dixon already has three wins this season, and with five more races still to go, he could easily win another one, two or maybe even three more in 2018 as he continues his road to the championship. And let’s not forget that with each additional win, that’s one win closer to overtaking Andretti and Foyt.

In his usual modest and humble manner, Dixon downplays not just talk comparing him with Andretti and Foyt, but also overtaking one or both.

“I think A.J. is pretty safe,” he said. “He’s a long ways ahead. … Eight (championships) is an infinity away. Takes a long time to get eight.”

But that doesn’t mean Dixon can’t keep working at approaching Foyt’s mark.

“I think for us, we take it race by race,” he said. “We’re in the business of winning races. If we’re not doing that, I won’t have a job for too long. That’s the focus for right now.”

If he wins the championship this year, he’ll pass Andretti’s championship mark. That would be one record down, three to go.

And if he can win nine more races over the next few seasons, he’ll pass Andretti’s 52 career wins, making it two records down and two more to go.

“Right now with 44 wins, next on the list is Mario I think at 52 or something,” Dixon said after Sunday’s win. “We’ll see how it goes. Right now, we’re just trying to get the job done for the team.”

And he’s doing a darn good job at that indeed – with likely even more success still to come.

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