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Portugal still in doubt

THE Portuguese Grand Prix could happen on November 9 if F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone can convince McLaren and Ferrari that they should take part in an 18th race. All the other teams in the World Championship have agreed to race - with financial incentives obviously playing an important part in their decisions. The two richest teams, however, do not appear to want the money on offer and are refusing to agree to take part.

If they continue to hold out the race would have to be a non-championship event and that means that other teams might lose interest, preferring to let their crews get some rest before the winter rush building new cars for the 1998 regulations. The FIA has already said that it is up to the teams whether the race happens and is not likely to declare it a Championship event to force the teams to go along.

The idea of a non-championship event is a non-starter. Formula 1 has not had such an event since the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch in April 1983. This was poorly attended with most teams sending only one car and many of the top drivers being replaced by stand-ins. After that all attempts to run another non-championship event have failed to get off the ground.

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