JULY 28, 1997

Portugal is off!

THE Portuguese Grand Prix - which had been tentatively scheduled for November 9 - is not going to take place and the F1 calendar will remain with only 17 races. The race, which was to have ended the World Championship season, was originally scheduled for October 26 but was canceled by the FIA when the circuit owners balked at doing safety work requested by the governing body. The date was given to the European Grand Prix at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. In an effort to save the race the Portuguese government took a controlling interest in the race track and made $5m available for the necessary work. The FIA agreed that if the work could be done and the teams agreed, there could be an 18th Grand Prix but Ferrari and McLaren refused to accept another race and the idea had to be canceled.

The Portuguese government says it will complete its modernization and be ready for a race to be included in the 1998 calendar and is hoping to conclude a five-year contract with F1 for the future.