LONDON (Reuters) - Argentina, which last hosted a Formula One Grand Prix in 1998, could be back on the calendar from 2014 when a new track near the capital Buenos Aires is completed.
Friday marked a ground-breaking ceremony of the 4.7 kms Velociudad Speedcity circuit in Zarate which designer Populous says will be capable of returning F1 to the south American country.
The $100 million (64 million pounds) project will be completed in two phases and will include south America’s first driver trainer centre and academy. The first phase, a 3.1 kms track, 4x4 off-road circuit and team garages, is scheduled to be completed in 14 months.
The second phase will extend the track to its full length, making it eligible for an FIA license.
“We are really proud to contribute with our design to create a new destination for F1, which always means an economic catalyst for the area and produces global exposure,” John Rhodes, Associate Principal of Populous, said in a statement.
“During the last five years we have developed technology, software, and design techniques through the use of simulation to physically test the design of a circuit. These pioneering techniques have enabled the creation of a topographically exciting and challenging medium-speed circuit on what was a relatively square and flat 63 hectare site.”
South America’s only other F1 track is Interlagos in Brazil which hosted the final race of the 2011 season last month.
Michael Schumacher won the last F1 race to be held in Argentina at the Autofromo Oscar Alfredo Galvez
Populous are also responsible for the recent re-design of British Grand Prix venue Silverstone and are involved in designing a new F1 track in Mumbai.
The design firm also planned the London 2012 Olympics Stadium and the Soccer City stadium which hosted last year’s World Cup final in South Africa.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by John Mehaffey