After weeks of anxious expectation, it has been confirmed that the Algarve’s Portimão racetrack will once again host a Formula 1 Grand Prix this year.
The initial 2021 schedule released earlier in the year had not included a race in Portugal. However, after the Australian Grand Prix was postponed and China was withdrawn from the schedule, the 2 May “TBC” date was confirmed for the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão. The Portuguese Grand Prix will be third of 23 races currently planned for 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship, following races in Bahrain and Italy.
Last October, Formula 1 returned to Portugal for the first time in 25 years, with the inaugural Grand Prix at the Portimão track, which had previously hosted Formula 1 testing and several other international motorsport events.
A total of 27,000 fans were present in 2020 as Lewis Hamilton secured a record 92nd career win (beating Michael Schumacher’s total of 91) ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.
The Algarve Autodromo is also due to host the opening round of this year’s World Endurance Championship – the 8 Hours of Portimao scheduled for 4 April – after the Sebring round was cancelled.
In an official statement announcing the Algarve Grand Prix, the Formula 1 organisation said, “We have been working closely with the promoter and the Portuguese government regarding fan attendance this season. Our first priority is the safety of our personnel and the communities we visit, and we proved last season that we can race safely in the wake of the pandemic. We expect a decision on fans to be taken by the authorities in the coming weeks.”
Added president and CEO Stefano Domenicali, “We are thrilled to announce that Formula 1 will be racing again in Portimão after the huge success of the race last year. We want to thank the promoter and the Portuguese government for their hard work and dedication in getting us to this point. We are confident and excited about our 2021 season, having shown last year that we could deliver 17 races safely and bring our millions of fans thrilling racing at a difficult time. We hope to welcome fans to Portimão again this season in a safe way and are working with the promoter on the details of that plan.”
Rita Marques, Portugal’s secretary of state of tourism, also welcomed the announcement. “Holding major events in our country is very important for the image and international promotion of Portugal as a tourist destination, and so it is with great interest that we see the return of Formula 1 to the Algarve in 2021. I want to thank the FIA and F1 for its confidence in Portugal, the Algarve and the Algarve International Racetrack by choosing our country to host a stage of the F1 calendar, and to express our full commitment to make it a big success.”