Jerez is on; Barcelona tests
© 1997 ATLAS F1

Friday May 16, 1997

Yesterday it was said that the Portuguese Grand Prix was back on as the last race of the reason. A FIA statement said: "The FIA is confident that the Portuguese Grand Prix will be back on the FIA Formula One world championship calendar for 1998 and thereafter and hopeful that Formula One cars can run again at Estoril before the end of 1997."

Alfredo Cesar Torres, president of the Portuguese Automobile Club, said however that the switch to Jerez still stands. So if the Estoril race should be back on the FIA Formula One calendar it would the 18th race of the season.

He said: "The decision on Jerez was final. To have a new grand prix - at Estoril - the FIA has to ask the teams whether they accept an 18th race."

A decision about this could be taken at the Barcelona Grand Prix next week.

Barcelona tests

Jean Alesi outpaced both the Williams cars today, he drove a best time of 1m 18.78s.

Frentzen, who saw Villeneuve to be the faster one again, is optimistic about the next race at Barcelona: "We are very well prepared. I have found the optimal set-up of my car for the race. I think it will be though to beat us in the race."

Michael Schumacher is not very happy because of the gap Ferrari has with the Williams team but he is pleased with the new 046/2 engine, which has proved reliable: "There is still a bit of a gap to the Williams here at Barcelona. The difference will be greater in qualifying than in the race. I know that we will start the Spanish Grand Prix with this handicap but I am confident that with a good strategy combined with reliability means we could get a good result here."

He also said there will be some changes coming up during the rest of the season: "From the race at Magny-Cours and also Silverstone we should have some new aerodynamic solutions. These will not be major changes to the structure of the chassis as this would require a very high investment and it is not my job to make these sort of decisions. We must try and close the gap to the Williams, but we must also keep an eye on the opposition, especially Benetton and McLaren."

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