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Estoril featuring mass changes

THE Autodromo Fernanda Pires da Silva circuit in Estoril, Portugal, has undergone a major facelift in an attempt to host a Formula One race again.

The Portuguese circuit, which last hosted a grand prix in 1996, saw Formula One action for the first time in three years this week with BMW-Williams and British American Racing testing there ahead of next week's Austrian Grand Prix.

Estoril's hopes of returning as a Formula One host have been given a boost with the test session, which was only made possible by the mass changes that had to be carried out in order to bring the facilities up to current F1 standards.

BMW-Williams driver Jenson Button's race engineer Tim Preston welcomed the changes made to the circuit.

"The improvements of the circuit are quite good although the first two corners are obviously quite a lot slower now," Preston said.

"From the operation point of view the pits are much better and the pit lane and the pit lane exit have been improved."

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