Lewis Hamilton spoke out Thursday against a planned deforestation needed to build a new Formula One circuit in Rio de Janeiro to host future Brazilian Grands Prix.
Speaking at an official pre-race news conference ahead of this weekend’s Eifel Grand Prix, the six-time world champion supported the environmentalist opposition to the proposals.
"My personal opinion is that the world doesn't need a new circuit," said Hamilton, who this weekend is bidding to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Grand Prix wins.
"I think there's plenty of circuits in the world that are great. I love Interlagos. I have been to Rio and it's a beautiful, beautiful place…. I don't know all the details.
"I heard that potentially it’s going to be sustainable, but the most sustainable thing you can do is not tear down any trees -- particularly in a time where we're fighting a pandemic and there continues to be a global crisis around the world.
"I don't think with deforestation and everything -- I don't think it's a smart move. I don't have the details of why, but it's not something I personally support."
Hamilton, a keen environmentalist, said that he had hoped not to have to answer a question on the subject less than two weeks after his controversial exit from the Russian Grand Prix.
Formula One plans to add a race at the proposed new circuit, at the disused Deodoro military base, to the calendar and has agreed a deal with the promoter to stage the planned event.
The current contract with Interlagos to host the Brazilian event in Sao Paulo is due to expire this year.
The proposed Deodora circuit is planned to be in a forested area where a reported 70,000 trees would have to be felled to allow construction to go ahead, but local promoter Rio Motorsports said they will be replaced ten-fold.
"The suppression of these 70,000 trees will be compensated by planting another 700,000 trees, part of them within the land itself, which will make the area with vegetation larger than it is today," said Rio Motorsports in a statement.
A deal for Rio Motosports to host the race is agreed with Formula One subject to the promoter being granted permission to build the track.