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    Racing on the Portimão rollercoaster

    Maranello 28 aprile 2021

    The third round of this year’s Formula 1 World Championship takes place at Portugal’s Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, near Portimão. As was the case with the Grands Prix run in Sakhir and Imola, the drivers find themselves back on a track that they last visited just a few months ago. Last year’s Portuguese Grand Prix was held on 25 October.

    The track. In 2020, the drivers were unanimous in their praise for the track, which they found challenging and fun, with its climbs and drops and many blind corners. The circuit has two very long straights in the first sector, where good top speed is vital, while the second sector is very different, being more twisty. It is in fact in this sector that one finds many of the changes of gradient where a driver must rely on instinct and have total confidence in his car. The final part features medium-high speed corners, especially the last one which leads on to the start-finish straight. There are two DRS zones: on the main straight and between turns 4 and 5.

    Programme. As usual, the cars take to the track for the first time on Friday for two hours of free practice, starting at 11.30 local (12.30 CET) and 15 (16 CET). Qualifying gets underway at 15 (16 CET) on Saturday, preceded by the final free practice session at 12 (13 CET). The Portuguese Grand Prix, the 18th to count for the World Championship, gets underway at 15 local time on Sunday (16 CET). The race is run over 66 laps of the 4.654 kilometre-long track, for a distance of 306.826 kilometres.


    GP entered 1010

    Seasons in F1 72

    Debut Monaco 1950 (A. Ascari 2nd; R. Sommer 4th; L. Villoresi ret.)

    Wins 238 (23.56%)

    Pole positions 228 (22.57%)

    Fastest laps 254 (25.15%)

    Total podiums 773 (25.51%)


    GP entered 17

    Debut 1958 (M. Hawthorn 2nd; W. Von Trips 5th)

    Wins 2 (11,76%)

    Pole positions 3 (17,65%)

    Fastest laps 4 (23.53%)

    Total podiums 9 (17.65%)

    Portuguese Grand Prix: facts & figures

    4. The race laps led by Carlos Sainz at the Portimão circuit. On slick tyres on a wet track, the Spaniard got a great start to the 2020 GP from seventh on the grid. This was the second time he had led a Grand Prix, having been out in front for one lap of last year’s Italian GP, where he eventually finished second.

    18+2. The number of districts that make up Portugal, including the two autonomous islands of Madeira and the Azores. The circuit is in the Algarve, the eighth most populous area, the top three being Lisbon, Oporto and Setubal. The main city is Faro and it has just over 450,000 inhabitants.

    32. The number of potential configurations of the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, which was built in 2008. They go from the shortest, which is 3.465 kms to the longest at 4.684 kms.

    58. The number of overtaking moves in the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix, which was a record for the season. It was partly down to the wet track in the opening stages and the spectacular nature of the circuit. This race was way ahead of the second placed Styrian Grand Prix at Spielberg, which had 45 passing moves. The race with the least changes of position last year was the Emilia-Romagna at Imola, with just six.

    650. The number of Formula 1 World Championship races run in Europe, including this Sunday’s, out of a total of 1037. America is next up on 207, followed by Asia on 121, Oceania with 35 and Africa on 24.

    This week in our history

    28/4. In 1974, Niki Lauda won the Spanish Grand Prix in a 312 B3-74. For the Scuderia, it ended a barren patch that had lasted over a year, since Jacky Ickx won the 1972 German Grand Prix. It was the Italian team’s fiftieth win, while Clay Regazzoni’s second place meant it was also the Scuderia’s 28th one-two finish. That year, the Swiss driver won in Germany and was in the title fight with Emerson Fittipaldi right down to the final round, while Lauda also won in Holland.

    29/4. In 1984, Michele Alboreto won in Belgium. It was his first victory at the wheel of a Ferrari (the 126 C4). The Milanese thus became the eighth Italian to win at the wheel of a Prancing Horse car, 18 years on from Ludovico Scarfiotti’s success at Monza in 1966. The other six drivers are: Alberto Ascari, Piero Taruffi, Giuseppe Farina, Luigi Musso, Giancarlo Baghetti and Lorenzo Bandini.

    30/4. After a four month run in 2019, the “Michael 50” exhibition, dedicated to Michael Schumacher’s fiftieth, came to an end. The exhibition told the extraordinary story of the German seven times world champion’s career with Ferrari, through the most important cars that he drove. He won 72 Grands Prix with the Scuderia, bringing home five Drivers’ and six Constructors’ titles.

    1/5. In 1983, Patrick Tambay triumphed in the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in a 126 C2B. It was the Frenchman’s second and last victory with Scuderia Ferrari. That year he and his teammate and fellow countryman Rene Arnoux delivered an eighth Constructors’ title for the Maranello marque.

    2/5. In 1999, Michael Schumacher won the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. The German thus took the lead in the championship standings, taking over from teammate Eddie Irvine. This was Michael’s 15th win with Scuderia Ferrari, which put him equal with Niki Lauda at the top of the table for most wins with the Italian team.