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FEBRUARY 7, 2000

A blow for Estoril

PORTUGAL's hopes of winning a Grand Prix again took a dive recently when the FIA refused the Estoril circuit a F1 testing licence because the safety work done was not up to standard. An FIA inspection revealed that the track had used the wrong materials for the safety barriers and the debris fencing. This will now have to be replaced.

The result of the decision is that Estoril has been forced to cancel the testing that had been planned this winter and will then re-apply for an FIA testing licence. This is likely to mean that there will not be a race at Estoril in 2001.

Portugal has not had a Grand Prix since 1996 and with the number of European races likely to diminish in the future it is going to be hard for the track to fund a bid in competition to rival European tracks. In addition Portugal is not as powerful within the FIA as it was when Cesar Torres was still alive.

The FIA Deputy President was the force behind the development of the Estoril circuit and the Portuguese GP. He died from cancer in December 1997.