The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is a circuit on the south coast of Portugal, near the town of Portimão and about 150 km from Lisboa. Opened in 2008, it boasts top level facilities, and has hosted almost every type of racing. It has hosted the Portuguese Grand Prix in 2020 and 2021.
Plans for the track were first announced in 2002, but the organizers ran into financial problems, and the project ground to a halt. In 2005, the ball started rolling again after the Ministers of the Economy and the Environment announced that the project would receive government support to help the local economy. The local council allocated 800 acres/324 hectares to the track and associated business park, and final plans were released in February 2008. Construction took a mere seven months, with a cost of €195 million for the track, karting track, tech center, five star hotel, sports complex and apartments.
The track opened on October 8, 2008. It was certified as Grade 1 by the FIM on October 11, and the FIA gave it a Grade 1-T (testing) rating on the 13th. On April 4, 2009, Max Mosley stated that the track could be added to the F1 calendar.
The circuit was laid out in the hills, about 10 km NW of the coastal city of Portimão. On overview, it has similarities with Estoril, Jarama and Barcelona, in that it is primarily a long front straight, with a very twisty section behind the pits. It is known for a number of elevation changes. The track has had only detail changes since opening.
The main straight is roughly one km long. The start of the straight is a short uphill section, then flattens out past the pits. Start/finish is about 4⁄10 of a km along. About at pit out, roughly 3⁄4 along the straight, the track drops again before flattening out going into the first turn (Primeira). This is a moderately tight 75° right, leading onto a very short and flat straight. The second, unnamed corner is a 45° right kink, made even more entertaining by starting gently uphill near the apex. This slight incline continues to the third turn (Lagos), a tight and challenging uphill 150° right. A very short straight leads to a sharply uphill section though the unnamed fourth turn, a sweeping 70° left.
A 1⁄2 km straight, parallel to the pit straight and just behind the paddock, starts uphill before slowly cresting, then drops sharply downhill to the tightest corner of the circuit, a 160° left called Torre Vip. The track dips to the left just at the apex, then smooths out again and starts slowly uphill. Another short straight before the course kinks 30° left at the crest of a rise before dropping slightly downhill through the next two corners. The first is an unnamed and fast 60° right, followed soon after by a much tighter 135° right, called Samsung and starting a short, steep climb just at the beginning of the corner.
The cars quickly crest that hump before dipping down before climbing again through a 60° sweeping left, named after the late motorcycle racer Craig Jones. A gentler climb reaches a double righthander (Portimão), the highest point on the circuit. The first corner is a quick 30° kink, followed almost immediately by a tricky 90° right where the track drops away from the cars at the exit. Formula 1 cars should take this as one long decreasing radius corner. Yet another short straight levels out just before an unnamed 45° left kink, then starts winding uphill again at an unnamed sweeping 160° left. The track starts dropping slowly partway through a wide, 180° increasing radius right, known as Sagres, then heads down another short straight.
The cars now enter the final turn, a wide, sweeping 120° right known as Galp. After the entry to Galp, the cars drop sharply before leveling off about 2⁄3 of the way through, then after the start of the front straight the track rises again near pit in.
The track has five separate alternate sections that can be used, but, unusually for a modern facility, there is no way that it can be divided into separate, smaller tracks. The first variation is at the end of the pit straight. The Primeira corner can be made into a tight 120° right, followed by a tight 90° left, then rejoining the circuit at the old second turn, making it a 90° right. This section was expected to be used for the Formula 1 race, but F1 officials decided otherwise.
A second variation is a sweeping left that shortcuts Torre Vip. It also loops just around the circular five-floor corporate suite and conference tower. This bend is often used for motorcycles. A similar sweeping shortcut, just after the tower, bends to the right and cuts off the Samsung complex.
The fourth alternate is a pair of tight lefthanders, connected by a short straight, cutting off the tight lefthander before Sagres. And the fifth straitlines part of the long Galp corner. These last two are rarely used.
The following is a list of Formula One World Championship events held at the Algarve International Circuit circuit:
|Year||Event||Winning Driver||Winning Constructor|
|2020||Portuguese Grand Prix||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes|
|2021||Portuguese Grand Prix||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes|
|V T E||Portuguese Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Boavista (1958, 1960), Monsanto (1959), Estoril (1984-1996), Algarve (2020-2021)|
|Formula One Races||1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961–1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997–2019 • 2020 • 2021|
|v·d·e||Nominate this page for Featured Article|