F1 to hold race in Sao Paulo until 2025 - governor

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FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Brazilian Grand Prix

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Formula One has renewed until 2025 its contract to hold races at the Interlagos track in Sao Paulo, city mayor Bruno Covas said on Thursday.

"The contract has been finalised and will be signed in the next few days," Covas told reporters at a joint news conference with the state governor Joao Doria.

"In November (2021) we will have the GP Sao Paulo here in Interlagos. The contract is for five years and renewable for another five years."

A spokesman for Liberty Media-owned Formula One, approached separately, said the sport "never discussed commercial decisions with partners or promoters".

Formula One cancelled its race in Brazil this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and had been negotiating the possibility of moving Brazil's race to Rio de Janeiro.

The move has been controversial for environmental reasons, with six times world champion Lewis Hamilton saying he would be against cutting down forest to build a circuit.

"My personal opinion is the world doesn’t need a new circuit. I think there are plenty of circuits in the world that are great and I love Interlagos," the Mercedes driver said last month.

The contract with Interlagos terminates at the end of 2020 but Formula One included it on a provisional 23-race calendar for 2021 published this week.

When asked why Sao Paulo was chosen over Rio, which has yet to build the circuit and would need an environmental permit, Covas replied: "Well, we already have a racetrack."

Last year the race netted 111 million reais ($20.53 million) for Sao Paulo, with the creation of 8,500 jobs.

The new deal will involve a different promoter to the past and incur a hosting fee payable to Formula One, unlike recent seasons.

Local media said last year that the city, home of late triple world champion Ayrton Senna, was willing to pay $20 million as an annual fee. ($1 = 5.4076 reais)

(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes/Alan Baldwin in London, writing by Stephen Eisenhammer and Andrew Downie; Editing by Toby Davis)