Formula 1 has witnessed an unprecedented race calendar this season. The pandemic has denied races from taking place in a number of countries. Eventually, the FIA sought some new circuits to fill the void that the regular circuits left in their wake.
One such addition was the Algarve International Circuit, which is all set to host its first F1 race. What’s more, amid the pandemic, the circuit is expecting about 45,000 spectators during the race weekend.
The circuit’s Event and Commercial Director mentioned that the track is looking forward to host fans as the F1 circus travels to Portugal. “In the first week, we went online with our ticket sales. It was crazy,” said Miguel Praia, while speaking to Autosport.
“Formula 1 is so popular in Portugal and the fans are eager to attend the event as F1 returns to our country. Corona has changed the world now though, and because of that both Formula 1 and Dorna Sports [MotoGP] were interested to visit the Algarve.
“At the moment we have sold over 30,000 seats already and 95% of our corporate boxes are sold out. Now the summer holidays have ended. We expect the sales to pick up again with a final boost.”
As opportunities like this rarely come by, they need to make a good impression for the FIA to even consider Algarve as a long-term option.
“We know this is a onetime opportunity at the moment. However, we will do our best to make this a very special for the teams, sponsors, the organizers, and the fans to enjoy our facilities and to enjoy the Algarve,” said Miguel.
Although the circuit has a capacity of 90,000 seats, an agreement with the government restricts them to sell only 50% of the seats.
Praia revealed that the circuit had been in constant contact with F1 over the past few years, lobbying for an opportunity to host a Grand Prix. The Portuguese Grand Prix will take place between 23rd and 25th October.
“We have been in touch with Formula One Management before to host a Grand Prix. But to be honest, the fee to welcome F1 was a showstopper for us,” he said.
The Algarve International Circuit is the fourth circuit in Portugal to host a Formula 1 race. Estoril Circuit was the last to host a Grand Prix back in 1996. Now, the Portuguese Grand Prix is making a comeback into the F1 calendar after an enormous gap of 24 years.
The new track isn’t the only part that will make the fans want to watch the race. Not unlike Mugello, the drivers’ inexperience could play a huge role in making the race even more unpredictable.