Monday, February 11, 2008

Portugal wants F1 return in Algarve

Portugal is bidding to regain a place on the Formula 1 calendar for the first time since 1996 with the building of a new circuit in the Algarve holiday region.

The country, which last held a grand prix at the Estoril circuit 12 years ago, hopes a new 200 million euro (£149 million) track in Portimao will entice F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone into making a return.

Reuters reports that the new venue, which has already been certified by the FIA and is set for completion in October, says it has already secured one F1 team for a test at the circuit next January.

And a Portuguese government official has said the country is determined to regain a slot on the F1 calendar at the new circuit.

"The Government will do its best for Portugal to become part of the world's main championships," deputy sports minister, Laurentino Dias told the news agency.

"This circuit is prepared to host a range of motor races, from the most modest to Formula 1."

Portugal was axed from the 1997 season following safety concerns at Estoril, which had been a mainstay on the calendar since 1984.

The country had initially held three grand prix during the early years of the world championship, at Porto in 1958 and ’60 and Monsanto, near Lisbon, in ’59.

The new circuit in the port city of Portimao is already due to host the final round of the Superbike world championship in November.

It is set to cover 300 hectares of land between Portimao and the hills of Monchique, with a capacity for up to 100,000 spectators including a VIP tower.

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