The Algarve International Circuit, located in the hills above the Portuguese city of Portimão, is on the Formula 1 calendar for the first time in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is known as one of the most spectacular and challenging modern racetracks in the world.
The Portuguese Grand Prix
With the arrival of Portimão, the Portuguese Grand Prix returns to the F1 calendar after 24 years of absence. This GP was held on several street circuits in the 50's and 60's, after an absence of almost 20 years it returned definitively in 1984. Until 1996 it got a permanent place on the calendar.
All those races were held at the Estoril circuit near Lisbon. Ayrton Senna's first victory in 1985 is legendary, but after that, the circuit was no guarantee of spectacle. Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell became record holders for the Portuguese GP with three victories each. Jacques Villeneuve ended this series by winning in 1996 after a brave overtaking of Michael Schumacher.
A circuit with a difference in altitude
The Portimão circuit, known in Portuguese as 'Autodrómo Internacional do Algarve', opened its doors in 2008 and almost immediately caught the eye of fans and drivers alike. With a length of 4,653 kilometers, it is on the short side, but due to the significant differences in height, each corner has its own character.
Especially the super fast 'Galp' corner before the straight has become famous in the last decade. In today's F1 cars it will easily be taken at full throttle, but the G-forces will be immense.
Formula 1 on the Algarve International Circuit
2020 is a special year for the circuit. Not only will Formula 1 organise a Grand Prix here for the first time, but the two-wheelers of MotoGP will also make their debut here. Where the Superbike World Championship used to be the highlight of the season, the Portuguese are now competing at the highest level.
The World Superbike Championship was absolutely appreciated by the circuit, one of the corners was even named after the driver Craig Jones, who died in 2008, but the desire for an F1 race was an open secret.
So far it has been no more than a sporadic test, over a decade ago now. McLaren, Ferrari and also the Mercedes team (when it was still Honda) drove their car here, but none of the current drivers came into action