Motor Racing: Doubts over Belgian Grand Prix

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The Independent Online
The organisers of the Belgian Grand Prix have been given until the end of this month to find a way of working around a strict ban on tobacco advertising, or see the race removed from the calendar.

FIA, Formula One's ruling body, has got tough with the Belgians and, in addition, a schedule released after its meeting in Monaco did not include a French Grand Prix.

A French court ruled this year that all national television channels were entitled to broadcast a race on French soil which went against the FIA's exclusive rights deal arranged with individual broadcasters.

The Belgian Grand Prix is due to take place on 30 August at Spa-Francorchamps, but has been jeopardised by a law banning all tobacco advertising and sponsorship from 1 January, 1999, passed by the Belgian parliament last month.

"As a result of recent anti-tobacco legislation in Belgium, a decision regarding the inclusion of the Belgian Grand Prix in the calendar for 1998 and thereafter has been delayed until 31 December, 1997," an FIA statement said.

Organisers of the Portuguese Grand Prix were given until the end of the year to complete necessary work on the Estoril track.

If these works were not complete, the race on 11 October would not take place. This year's race was taken away from Estoril and replaced with the European Grand Prix in Jerez, Spain.

1998 FORMULA ONE SCHEDULE: 8 March: Australian Grand Prix (Albert Park); 29 March: Brazilian (Interlagos); 12 April: Argentine (Buenos Aires); 26 April: San Marino (Imola); 10 May: Spanish (Barcelona); 24 May: Monaco (Monte Carlo); 7 June: Canadian (Montreal); 12 July: British (Silverstone); 26 July: Austrian (Spielberg); 2 Aug: German (Hockenheim); 16 Aug: Hungarian (Budapest); 30 Aug: Belgian (Spa-Francorchamps); 13 Sept: Italian (Monza); 27 Sept: Luxembourg (Nurburgring, Ger); 11 Oct: Portuguese (Estoril); 1 Nov: Japanese (Suzuka).