BUENOS AIRES, Dec 18, 2011 (AFP) - Argentina has started work on a $100 million grand prix circuit designed to see the country makes its return to the Formula One calendar.
The 4.7 kilometre Velociudad Speedcity circuit is being built in Zarate, 100 kilometres from the Argentine capital.
Argentina last staged an F1 race in Buenos Aires in 1998 and is hoping to have the new track in operation in time to stage a race in 2014.
The investors behind the ambitious $100 million project, Populous, have targeted both the pinnacle of single seater racing and leading motorcycle series MotoGP as potential headline events.
"The plan is for a circuit capable of delivering a Formula 1 event," John Rhodes, Associate Principal of Populous, told Reuters. The key is to offer a category one circuit. Once the facility is there, then it's down to a promoter (to do the rest).
"The issue is to have a high performance circuit capable of holding a MotoGP then add the necessary requirements for a Formula 1 race. The main 4.7-km (2.9-mi) circuit will be good for F1 and endurance races like Le Mans, it's a good, sensible length."
Rhodes went on to explain that a clear business plan has been outlined for the venue's future, with a number of ideas expected to return respective investments.
"(Populous) is a private concern owned by Eddie Freeman, an entrepreneur who worked in resort development. We see this as more than just an event circuit. There are many (car) manufacturers in the area, they can test cars, do driver training. The investment will soon pay for itself, there is a business idea behind this.
"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 challenging medium-speed circuit on what was a relatively square and flat 63 hectare site."
Argentina last hosted a Grand Prix back in 1998, with the Autódromo Juan y Oscar Gálvez in Buenos Aires the scene of a comfortable Michael Schumacher victory.
The Velociudad Speedcity venue will also incorporate a drivers' academy and a six star hotel.
South America's only other F1 track is at Interlagos in Sao Paulo, Brazil.