Hamilton against cutting trees for new Rio circuit
By Alan Baldwin
(Reuters) - Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton said Thursday he saw no need for a new racetrack in Rio de Janeiro and was against cutting down forest trees to make way for it.
Plans for a Grand Prix circuit that will replace Sao Paolo's Interlagos on the F1 calendar have sparked controversy with local environmentalists who spoke out against the location.
Proponents of the project say more trees will be planted than those that have been removed from the forest area in the Deodoro Sector in western Rio, near a now disused military site.
Hamilton, who could become world champion seven times on his next visit to Brazil, has spoken out on environmental issues.
"I was hoping that I wouldn't really get this question," said the Mercedes driver before the Grand Prix of the Eifel on Sunday at the Nürburgring. "My personal opinion is that the world doesn't need a new racetrack.
"I think there are a lot of great tracks in the world and I love Interlagos."
Hamilton said he didn't know all the details of the planned route and had heard it would be sustainable development.
"The most sustainable thing you can do is not to cut trees," he added.
"With deforestation and all, I don't think it's a smart move personally. Again, I'm not sure why, but I personally don't support it."
Interlagos has been a fixture on the F1 calendar since 1990, but is not hosting a race this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rio's old Jacarepagua circuit was demolished to make way for the 2016 Olympics.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said last year that the privately built new route would have a capacity for 130,000 fans.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)
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