JULY 7, 1997
Estoril is nationalized!
WORK has begun to upgrade the Estoril racing circuit after a showdown between the circuit owners and the Portuguese government. The track has now been effectively taken over by the government, which has taken a 51% share in GraoÊPara, the private company which controls the track. The sale came about when the Portuguese Minister of the Economy Augusto Mateus threatened to finance a completely new government-owned circuit near Lisbon to rival Estoril.
If Portugal is to hold a race this year the work must be completed by the end of August so that the facilities can be inspected by the FIA. If the circuit gets the go-ahead it will be then up to the F1 teams to agree whether or not to host an unprecedented 18th Grand Prix.