Your A-Z Guide to the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix
The Algarve Circuit returns to the F1 calendar after a successful debut in 2020
Portimao, Portugal - Welcome to your A-Z Guide to the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix! After a successful debut on the F1 calendar in 2020, F1 heads back to Portugal for round three of the championship at the Algarve Circuit. In this video, we'll break down the circuit stats and info while also looking at the news heading into the race weekend. And if you'd like to watch qualifying with us, join us this Saturday at 10AM Eastern on The BackMarkers F1 Show channel for a Portuguese Grand Prix qualifying watch along with live timing and commentary. The live chat will be open for interaction so we can't wait to see you all there but until then, let's dive right into the track facts.
The Algarve Circuit
The Algarve Circuit has only hosted one Formula 1 race in its history but it quickly became a favorite for fans and the drivers. The 66 lap race will be contested on the 4.6KM roller coaster ride known as the Algarve or Portimao Circuit with 15 corners overall, 6 to the left and 9 to the right. With steep elevation changes and swooping corners, the downforce level is rated as high but you still need some good top speed for the long straight down into turn one. In last years race, the one stop strategy was the way to go as drivers will lose an average of around 27 seconds in the pitlane. The pole position grid slot is located on the left hand side of the grid and the distance to the first braking zone from pole is 301 meters. Around the Algarve Circuit, you take your lap at full throttle 66% of the time as drivers will experience a maximum lateral G-force of 4.9G's. Because their has only been one race so far at the Algarve Circuit, their is not too much Grand Prix history to go through this week. As a refresher, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes won the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix with Hamilton getting the victory after starting from pole and his teammate Valtteri Bottas finishing second.
Grand Prix Schedule
Here is your Free Practice schedule for the Friday and Saturday sessions in Portimao. For qualifying and the race, the sessions will begin at 3pm local time in Portimao and 10AM in the Eastern time zone. Check out some of the start times in various parts of the world.
Let's begin with the forecast in Portimao ahead of this race weekend.
Weather - At the moment, the forecast for this weekend in Portugal is calling for some rain on Friday for Free Practice with a high of 16 degrees. The rest of the weekend however looks dry and sunny with a high of 18 degrees on both Saturday and Sunday. Last year's race was run in quite cooler conditions which made things difficult for some teams but let's now look at the tyre situation for the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix.
Tyres - The Algarve Circuit will see the debut of Pirelli's hardest tyre in 2021 as they bring the C1, C2, and C3 tyres to the race weekend. The track was resurfaced last year so the tarmac is not very abrasive nor does it provide a lot of grip. With the warmer conditions and a matured track, grip levels should rise in comparison to 2020 but the harder tyres are needed to deal with the high demands of corners such as turn 7 and 8. Another interesting thing to keep in mind is that Hamilton's 2020 pole lap was completed on the medium tyre but that might not be the case for this year's qualifying session. Here are the rest of your weekend notes for the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix.
DRS Zones - After F1's debut last year at the Algarve Circuit, an additional DRS zone has been added between turns 4 and 5. This will help to promote overtaking and Turn 5 is one of the heaviest braking zones on the circuit. The other DRS zone remains unchanged which is the one on the main straight heading into turn one.
More Hamilton History - If Lewis Hamilton qualifies on pole, it would mark his 100th career pole position which is a feat never before achieved by a driver. Hamilton already holds the pole position record by a healthy margin but 100 career poles for a driver would mark a special F1 record.
Ilott Joins Alfa Romeo - Ferrari Academy Driver Callum Ilott joins Alfa Romeo as its second reserve driver for 2021. Ilott will be in the car for FP1 in Portugal as he was brought in to fill in for regular reserve driver Robert Kubica who is on other racing duties.
For the second race in a row, we revisit an irregular F1 venue that was a real success with the fans in 2020. The Algarve Circuit is a fantastic flowing circuit with numerous challenges for the drivers and teams that make it feel like an old school circuit. The race here last season was a solid one but with the way the 2021 championship is shaping up, it should be an even better one this weekend. The tricky conditions in 2020 made the first few laps exciting but then Mercedes were able to stretch their advantage and run away with it. But now that Mercedes and Red Bull are on fairly even ground, we should get a thrilling 66 lap shootout in Portimao. That is of course if Verstappen and Hamilton get through turn one without incident. The first four corners at the Algarve Circuit on lap one of the race can be very tough to navigate and like we saw in Imola, opening lap contact can have a big impact on the rest of the Grand Prix. The key here for Verstappen and Hamilton is which driver will be able to switch on and manage their tyres better when it matters the most. Let's see how much more grip the Algarve Circuit will provide but getting the harder tyres in the right working window will be essential for success in the race. I see this weekend as an important bounce back race for the likes of Perez and Bottas who didn't have a successful race in Imola. If those two can get in the mix, it provides us with a more unpredictable race and support for their championship contending teammates. The Algarve Circuit has some similarities to Imola with the high speed corners but one key difference is that the track is much wider which allows for more overtaking. Also the addition of the DRS zone between turns 4 and 5 should give us more action which we didn't see here last season. It's really tough to say which team has the edge heading into Portugal as it has been so close through the first two races. Red Bull are the betting favorites but Mercedes have made the most of their experience and fortunes so far to still be leading the championship. Verstappen and Red Bull will be hoping for no more practice troubles and a clean weekend in which they can take the drivers championship lead for the first time since 2013.