DECEMBER 23, 2000

Suzuka responds to Fuji pressure

THE Honda-owned Suzuka racing circuit in Japan is to be upgraded in an effort to stave off a challenge for the Japanese Grand Prix from the Mount Fuji racing circuit, which was recently acquired by Toyota.

Suzuka has been under pressure from the F1 authorities in recent years because of the poor level of facilities but has always argued that there was not space to do more. Now it seems changes will be made with additional run-off areas in several of the corners and a completely remodelled paddock to create more room for the teams and media. To date the Suzuka paddock has been a rabbit-warren of small alleyways created by the team's transportation boxes. There will also be an increased in size for the media center which has not been big enough to cope with the demand for space.

There are plans for more grandstands to be built during 2002. Suzuka is expected to be granted a new five-year contract for the Japanese GP but may still struggle to compete for the 2007 contract as Toyota is intending to spend millions of dollars rebuilding Fuji, which has not hosted the Japanese GP since 1977.