FEBRUARY 24, 1997

Brazilian GP to switch venues?

NELSON PIQUET's Autodromo Nelson Piquet in Brasilia is aiming to host the Brazilian Grand Prix in 1999. The 3.4-mile race track, which was opened in 1974 with a non-championship Formula 1 race - the Presidente Medici GP (named after the then Brazilian dictator General Emilio Medici who was overthrown six weeks later) - has been overshadowed ever since by the tracks at Jacarepagua (Rio de Janeiro) and Interlagos (Sao Paulo). Piquet took over the facility in February last year and began a program of investment to improve the infrastructure.

The death of Ayrton Senna has seen interest in F1 in Sao Paulo wane in the last couple of years and although BernieÊEcclestone has a contract with the city of Sao Paulo until the year 2001, that was signed just a month before Senna's death, the city - which is struggling financially - may decide that it is too expensive an event to continue. Piquet and Ecclestone are, of course, old accomplices, Nelson having driven for Brabham between 1978 and 1985, an alliance which resulted in two World Championships.