This weekend marks the second-ever Formula One race at The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. It hosts the Formula 1 Heineken Grande Premio De Portugal 2021 or, to most fans, the Portuguese Grand Prix. As we’ve only raced here once before in F1, here’s a quick stop guide on everything you need to know about Portimao.
Why are we racing here?
Last year, due to many calendar changes and the impact of Covid-19, the sport returned to Portugal for the first time since 1996, excitement = intensified. However, this year, it wasn’t on the original provisional calendar released at the end of 2020. Although, there was a TBC, and many fans were hoping for the return of Portimao. In March this year, it was confirmed that the Portuguese Grand Prix would be returning to the calendar once more. Will it become a more permanent feature of the F1 calendar? I could only dream.
Okay, but give us the details of the track!
Alright, the track itself was built and finished in 2008; it took just 7 months to complete but cost a whopping €195 million. As mentioned earlier, although the track was used for F1 pre-season testing in the winter of 2008-09, it hosted its first Formula One race in 2020. The stats in terms of the most wins or pole positions at this track are a little slim, but they both belong to Lewis Hamilton, in case you’re interested. The length of the track is 2.891 miles or 4.653 km. It has 15 turns and hosts an elevation change into the layout, like COTA. It sends drivers up and down (like a rollercoaster) with the big downhill slopes and right-hand turns after the main straight and is pretty good for overtaking because of the circuit width.
Nice, so what happened last year?
A new track, new impressions – and it definitely left good ones on the drivers, with many of them praising the track and its unique layout. Pierre Gasly even compared it to the butterflies you get in your stomach when on a rollercoaster. Challenging, a lot of blind corners, high-speed, low speed and a smooth surface. Lewis Hamilton started from the front of the grid after achieving pole position over his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, by a tenth of a second. At the start of the race, Max Verstappen passed Bottas with ease as the whole grid struggled to find grip.
Once the latter positions switched back once again, the Dutch driver made contact with Sergio Perez, spinning him to the back of the pack. Bottas took the lead as Lewis battled with the slippery surface, and Carlos Sainz moved up to third, promptly passing Hamilton into second. In a surprise event, the tricky conditions played to the Spaniard’s favour as he sailed his way past Bottas and led the race until Lap 6. As a McLaren fan, my little papaya heart was beating way too fast – although that could’ve been the racing ritual Monster Energy. Mercedes eventually found themselves back at the front where they belonged, and on Lap 20, Lewis took the lead. In terms of race drama, we had a small Lance Stroll and Lando Norris collision when fighting for position, and Pierre Gasly went on the hunt for 5th place. The podium was a standard Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, but I still really enjoyed the race.
So, that’s everything we need to know about this weekends race, but what do you think of the track? Should it become a permanent feature of the F1 calendar?