EX-F1 DRIVER PIZZONIA TO DRIVE FOR CORINTHIANS IN SUPERLEAGUE FORMULA
Ex-Formula 1 driver Antonio Pizzonia is set to do battle for Brazilian football club Corinthians in the new Superleague Formula championship – climbing aboard the club’s 750 horsepower black and white machine from the next round at the Nurburgring.
The former Jaguar and Williams Formula 1 driver was revealed as the club’s new star this week in Parque São Jorge, the club’s headquarters, in São Paulo, Brazil.
Currently competing in the Brazilian Stock Car Championship, Pizzonia is looking forward to climbing back aboard a high-powered single seater – especially knowing he has the backing of millions of passionate Corinthians’ supporters.
“I am extremely happy to drive for Corinthians in Superleague Formula and really looking forward to my first race at the Nurburgring,” Pizzonia said.
“I think the format and the whole concept for the championship is excellent and I am very confident we can be very competitive.
“I have raced at the Nurburgring before and can’t wait to try the Corinthians car there. I was really surprised at the reaction from the fans, it really has been amazing. I will certainly have a lot of supporters following my every lap.”
The 27-year-old Brazilian stormed through junior formula in the UK, winning the Formula Renault Championship in 1999 and the British Formula 3 crown in 2000. He also finished second in the Formula 3000 Championship in 2001. Pizzonia scored his first points in Formula 1 when he finished 7th for Williams at the Nurburgring in 2004.
The versatile Pizzonia has also contested several races in the Champ Car World Series and made his Brazilian Stock Car debut this year.
Corinthians Vice-President of Marketing, Luís Paulo Rosemberg, welcomed Pizzonia as the new member of the “Corinthians’ family”, remarking that the well-known supporters group named “Fiel” is growing beyond football.
“Superleague Formula can be a great business opportunity for Corinthians – the club doesn’t invest in motorsports, but being on track with our image and fans, we can obtain great incomes with sponsorship and licensed products,” he said.
Pizzonia is set to do battle in against 16 other football teams from across the globe and will launch a fierce rivalry with fellow Brazilian club, Flamengo.
While the 2008 Superleague Formula championship remains a European-based championship, the series is looking at expansion into Brazil in 2009.
The Superleague Formula director responsible for the Brazilian market, Gustavo Erich Wolf, said at the Pizzonia press conference this week that he is working towards the inclusion of Brazil in the 2009 calendar.
The circuits that are being considered as ‘candidates’ include Interlagos, Jacarepaguá, Velopark, Curitiba and Brasília.
“In this first season, Superleague Formula is only going to happen only in Europe, but for the next year we are aiming for nine weekends,” Wolf said.
“There is a strong desire to come to Brazil. We are working hard with sponsors, TV networks and also with the circuit’s directors to make this dream come true next season. Unfortunately there aren’t many circuits in Brazil that can accommodate a series like Superleague Formula.”
Fellow Brazilian driver Tuka Rocha was confirmed this week to compete all six races for Corinthians rival, Flamengo. The Rio team’s Marketing Director, Ricardo Jorge Hinrichsen, has his sights set on reviving the city’s Jacarepagua circuit for a possible Superleague Formula event. The circuit previously hosted Formula 1 and IndyCar events, but has been shortened to make way for facilities for the Pan-American Games.
“The track currently is in no condition to stage a Superleague Formula race. I am going to contact the City Hall in order to rehabilitate the race track,” Hinrichsen said.
“A Superleague event in Rio de Janeiro would be very important to the city, not just in terms of image but also as a generation of financial resources.”
Superleague Formula supporters of both Flamengo and Corinthians will soon be able to take part in an interactive program through the superleagueformula.comflamengo.com.br or corinthians.com.br websites. Fans will be able to have their name written on Flamengo’s or Conrinthians’ car. They will also receive an official sponsorship certificate and will be able to win flights and tickets to cheer on their club live at a European event.