The Autódromo do Estoril (officially, Autódromo Fernanda Pires da Silva) is a former Formula One venue in Portugal. The circuit hosted F1 from 1984 to 1996, but the various ownership groups have long had difficulties maintaining current safety standards, and the track is rarely used for major racing in recent years.
The circuit was built in 1971-72 on a rocky plateau, a few km uphill from the beach resort of Estoril, near the village of Alcabideche. It was designed for several different configurations, but only the long Grand Prix circuit has seen extensive use. The first years saw a number of races, including visits by the Formula Two series, but the management company was taken over by the military dictatorship, and the track was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
New ownership in the early 1980s was able to refurbish the track, and Formula One made it's first appearance in 1984.
The original design started with an irregular oval track of approximately 2.7 km in length, and on a fairly small plot of land. There were two additional sections: a boomerang-shaped loop through the infield, and a rough triangle outside of the oval. Either could be used for a meeting, but the primary circuit included both, with the cars briefly running the 'wrong way' on the backstretch of the oval.
Start/finish and the pits are on a straightaway of almost exactly one km. At the end, the cars made a pair of sweeping 90° right turns (called Curva 1 and Curva 2), with a short straight between. Then down the back straight to a tight 160° right (Curva 3) into the 'boomerang' section, followed quickly by a 180° left (Curva VIP). A 1⁄2 km straight with a right hand dogleg ran just behind the paddock, ending in a decreasing radius 180° left (Parabolica Interior).
That led onto a moderate straight, ending in a 135° uphill right (Orelha), starting the 'triangle' segment. At the high point of the circuit is a gentle 90° right (Tanque) leading downhill into the Esses, which is actually a very gentle right followed by a sharp, 90° left. The final corner is a sweeping and fast bend, known as the Parabolica, which curves slightly more than 180°, and ends on the main straight. The track in this configuration measured 4.35 km/2.703 mi.
The events at Imola in 1994 led to some changes when the series returned late in the season. The speed of the cars going through the Esses and leading into the Parabolica was deemed excessive, so for Formula One, the old Tanque curve was bypassed. In its place was an early righthander, leading into an extremely tight, sharply uphill 135° left followed by a not-quite-as-tight 100°right, leading back onto the old circuit. This section was named Gancho.
The only other change was purely cosmetic, renaming the Parabolica for Ayrton Senna. The net effect of the changes was a track length of 4.36 km/2.709 mi.
Before the 2000 season (but well after Formula One had dropped Estoril from the calendar) several changes were made to the circuit. An inability for the track to add runoff room to the Senna Parabolica, caused the owners to rebuild the corner in its entirety, but roughly 20 meters south, thus giving the desired runoff space. And the first three corners were rebuilt, moving Curva 1 further south and making it much tighter. Curva 2 was pulled in, making it more of a tight kink than a wide sweeper. And the old Curva 3 was tightened up, simply by the track coming in at a different angle. That corner was also renamed Lamy, for the local driver Pedro Lamy, the first Portuguese driver to score points.
The final change was extending the pit lane so that it exited after Curva 1. The circuit now measured 4.183 km/2.599 mi.
The following is a list of Formula One World Championship events held at the Autódromo do Estoril:
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