Portuguese Grand Prix: Why Is F1 Racing in Portimao?

Published 04/25/2021, 6:50 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Portuguese Grand Prix – Algarve International Circuit, Portimao, Portugal – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in action during practice Pool via REUTERS/Armando Franca

After two thrilling races to kick off the campaign, the F1 circus now moves to the Portimao circuit to contest the Portuguese Grand Prix. This will be just the second race to be hosted at this venue, with its debut coming last year


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But why is it so? How did the Portimao circuit land up on the 2020 calendar? Why does it find itself on the calendar again this year?

Let’s delve deeper to find out.


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The circuit in Portimao came into the limelight on the back of the coronavirus pandemic. Or rather, due to the cancellation of several other races due to the pandemic.

Three specific reasons can be suggested for Portimao featuring in last year’s calendar. The first one is already discussed above, the second one pertains to the tough travel restrictions in the pandemic times, and the third reason is the inability to host races at street circuits.

Formula One F1. Portuguese Grand Prix. Algarve International Circuit, Portimao, Portugal. General view at the start of the race Pool via REUTERS/Jorge Guerrero

Thus, the FIA was looking to fill the F1 calendar with non-street races in Europe, and there are only a few better circuits in Europe than Portimao. It has all the necessary requirements to host an F1 race; they have a Grade 1 license, 5-star hotel accommodations, sports complex, and the likes.

But most importantly, it’s a great track to race on. The circuit has often been compared to a rollercoaster due to its undulations and draws comparisons to Spa in Belgium and the Circuit of the Americas in the USA.

Moreover, the reason it was one of the first in line to get onto the truncated F1 calendar was because it was already used as a test track for modern F1 cars.

How did Portimao make the 2021 F1 calendar?

After a successful initiation, Portimao put its name at the front of the line in the minds of the FIA and fans alike. When F1 published their first calendar for the 2021 season, it included a ‘TBC.’

Formula One F1. Portuguese Grand Pri. Algarve International Circuit, Portimao, Portugal. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton crosses the line to win the race FIA/Handout via REUTERS

There were already enough suggestions that this could be filled up by Portimao, and these suggestions were eventually confirmed by the FIA. There has been no explicit reason given for the inclusion of Portimao.


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However, a few theories could be postulated, with the first one being the success of the race last year. It was a treat for fans to watch and also proceeded safely despite accommodating a crowd of 27,000. So, that showcased the strict measures in place at the track.

Moreover, the race in Portugal gives the F1 circus a perfect transition to the next race in Spain that follows. Since this is a back-to-back race week, it reduces the traveling burden for both teams and drivers.

Fans will hope that the race in Portimao can build the hype that has accumulated over the first two races. Who are you backing to come out on top in Portugal? Let us know in the comments below.


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Ronan Carvalho

1015 articles

Ronan Carvalho is senior F1 author for Essentiallysports. Ronan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from St. Xavier's College.