Algarve track joins the running for 2013 calendar slot

2013 F1 season

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Portugal’s Algarve International Circuit has been suggested as a possible venue for the tenth round of the 2013 F1 calendar.

With less than 50 days to go until the first practice session of the season in Australia a vacant slot remains in this year’s schedule.

Bernie Ecclestone told Austria’s Salzburger Nachrichten the Portuguese circuit could hold the race on July 21st. He added France is also still being considered for a return to the Grand Prix calendar.

If a race were held in Portugal on July 21st the teams would face a logistical challenge to arrive in Hungary in time for the next round on the 28th.

The Algarve International Circuit was built in 2008 at a cost of around ??200m using private money. Construction took just ten months. Its F1 configuration measures 4.692km (2.92 miles).

When it was built the owners hoped it would become a popular testing destination for F1 teams. But the introduction of the testing ban scuppered those hopes and the track only saw F1 cars in action during the 2008/09 off-season.

However its undulating layout means it stands out among other recent new-build circuits and has been praised by many of the drivers who have visited it. The track held the GP2 season finale in 2009 and last year played host to the FIA’s World Touring Car Championship and GT1 World Championship (see video below).

The Portuguese Grand Prix last appeared on the F1 calendar in 1996. The race at Estoril was won by Jacques Villeneuve for Williams.

Portugal hasn’t had an F1 driver on the grid since Tiago Monteiro in 2006. Since then Alvaro Parente and Filipe Albuquerque have come close to reaching F1 but fallen short. However Antonio Felix da Costa is a rising star on Red Bull’s young driver programme and may well be Portugal’s next F1 driver.

Read more about the Algarve International Circuit.

F1 cars at the Algarve International Circuit

Algarve International Circuit aerial map

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Image © Renault/LAT

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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53 comments on “Algarve track joins the running for 2013 calendar slot”

  1. those GT1 cars are damn sexy

    1. Tell me about it. My boss saw them on my PC screen and now I have a written warning. :(

      1. A fair chunk of this website should come with a NSFW warning.

      2. I thought you wrote about being a freelance writer now!

        1. The wife then?

        2. @BasCB That happens at the end of the month. :)

          1. Ah. Well at least it shows a heart for motorsport, eh!

          2. Congrats :D

    2. @brawngp It’s a pity the series isn’t more popular, when I went to see them at Silverstone a couple years ago there was hardly anyone there. The racing is usually pretty good too.

  2. A very nice track, and this is quite a rare thing with modern circuits. I’d love to see a F1 race here.

    1. It looks real and interesting and very un-cookie cutter.

      I vote Algarve!

  3. Nice track ….. how I wished BE thinks less about his pocket and give the Portuguese people some positive vibes this year ….. Wishful thinking it may remain :(

    1. Sorry, but what, exactly, does Bernie owe Portugal? If he gave all of these countries races at greatly-reduced fees simply because they wanted them, the sport would probably collapse. As Ecclestone revealed whislt discussing the sanctioning fees for the Australian Grand Prix, a lot of the money goes to the teams. If the Portuguese Grand Prix is revived with a dramatically-reduced fee, how are the teams going to recover the costs of competing?

      And I hate to say it, but I don’t think Formula 1 is worse off without a race in Portugal. Sure, the Portuguese Grand Prix was held twenty-five times between 1951 and 1996, but there has never been a Portuguese race winner, much less a Portuguese World Champion. Meanwhile, France and Austria are without Grands Prix, and both the French and Austrian Grands Prix have been run far more often the race in Portugal, and they have both produced World Champions. If any country should get a Grand Prix at a reduced fee, it’s France or Austria, not Portugal.

      1. “…..If the Portuguese Grand Prix is revived with a dramatically-reduced fee, how are the teams going to recover the costs of competing?”

        Sorry PM, I was talking of a one-off race for 2013 season, unless you want to tell me that adding the Portuguese grandprix for this season would automatically mean signing a multi-year contract, then I will concur with you.
        And equating country grandprix with the number of F1 drivers or WDCs they have would mean that your home country will soon lose their slot when Webber retires and Ricciardo may not stay long at RBR. And why does NZ not have a grandprix? After all Bruce was a native ….. just going by your logic though.

        1. And equating country grandprix with the number of F1 drivers or WDCs they have would mean that your home country will soon lose their slot when Webber retires and Ricciardo may not stay long at RBR.

          Because we have produced World Champions and race winners.

          And why does NZ not have a grandprix? After all Bruce was a native ….. just going by your logic though.

          There are no circuits in New Zealand that could accomodate Formula 1.

          1. Ok PM, I rest my case ;)

            Observations: I have, in recent months, been reading how supportive you have been on issues concerning BE. Do you think BE gets a lot of slagging here that you see yourself coming to his rescue every time his name is mentioned? Also, I do read a lot of your contributions. If I remember correctly, you were routing for Kobayashi in 2009 only to suddenly drop your support immediately you saw he gained reputation. Am I seeing a bit of a Robin Hood in you PM? Just being curious ….. and if yes, your support for BE is misplaced as he does not need it tbh.

          2. @Prisoner-Monkeys – What does producing race winners and World Champions have to do with where Formula 1 races? I don’t recall seeing a Korean race winner of World Champion, nor Indian, and yet they both have races. Neither do I recall there being a Malaysian or Chinese World Champion, and yet again, there are races held in those countries.

          3. @jamiefranklinf1 – I think you’re missing my point. Reading BBQ2’s first post again, he seems to think that Bernie should simply give Portugal a race. If not for free, then at a dramatically-reduced rate. Assuming for the moment that Bernie would be willing to give away a race for free, then why does Portugal deserve it before any of the other bidders? France and Austria have contributed so much more to the sport, so if a race is being given away for free, then surely either one of them deserves it more than Portugal does.

      2. What really is a travesty is that Finland’s never had it’s own Grand Prix. We would of course have to build a circuit that could hold a F1 race event but I’m certain the race would be a commercial success if we did.

        1. talking about ice races (see the discussion on Sochi in November)!

    2. That would be great. As a citizen of Portugal (I got two citizenships) I’d donate 100 Euros if necessary…

      Portugal can only hold the race if Bernie has a reality check and asks for a reasonable fee. Portuguese state and companies have no money for such luxury despite F1’s popularity in Portugal.

      O Antonio Felix da Costa I’m sure he’ll be driving a Toro Rosso as soon as 2014.

      1. Neither do the state companies neither do the private companies. At this time, everyone in Portugal is afraid of making big investements.

      2. if Bernie has a reality check and asks for a reasonable fee.

        I’m not so sure that makes sense, surely Bernie’s responsibility lies in gaining as much money for himself and CVC as possible, now, if you are talking in terms of, “for the fans” that really is more of an un-reality check.

        I’d like to see Algarve get the race though, it seems like a really imaginative and challenging circuit.

  4. Its a great track, the superbikes are awesome there.

  5. Southern Portugal is so great during June-July! Not too hot but still warm and sunny enough for most Europeans. This race wuold give nice boost to local economy also. As I understand it would still be low-season for tourism, so even the better for locals and for toursts also.

    I really hope Algarve would get the 20th spot on the calender for the next 3 years!

    1. Agreed. No need to go to America twice when you have options like this willing to comply!

      1. The organisers in New Jersey were “willing to comply”, as you put it. They just didn’t get the proper building permits when they needed them, and the land owners were able to put their prices up considerably. This slowed down construction, and the project stalled.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys

          I doubt the local officials would do anything but speed the process up in Portugal, assuming they were able to, which, is unlike what happened in New Jersey.

  6. It is a wonderful circuit, Here is an in-car lap from A1GP-

    However presently the circuit doesn’t have an FIA Grade 1 license which means an F1 race cannot be held there. It currently has a Grade 1T which means it can host an F1 test but not a race.

    1. It currently has a Grade 1T which means it can host an F1 test but not a race.

      There is not much of a difference between Grade-1 and Grade-1T. A circuit with a 1T licence could hold a Grand Prix, but would need a Grade-1 licence if it wished to host the event in the long term.

  7. I already published a story about this on last December, with exclusive comments from the Algarve but unfortunately no relevance was given to the news

    1. If I remember correctly at the time the track owners said they hadn’t made a request – obviously now Ecclestone has mentioned it so it seems a bit more likely. It would be interesting to hear what the people at the Algarve have to say now. I’ve tried to contact them but haven’t heard back yet.

    2. This is what Mr. Saward writes about the likelyness of the race actually going to the Algarve – no immediate reaction from the locals though .

  8. Yes please, as I am usually on holiday in Vilamoura around that time of year!

  9. The layout looks good, even though the last corner and first sector design are awfully close to that of Catalunya.
    I think it would be suitable for a temporary place on the calendar, anywhere between 1-3 years tops.
    Personally, I think Ecclestone is close to making a deal with France and he wants a bit more money so he is showing them “competition” in the form of the Portuguese. The Portuguese circuit is better, but France has a better culture for motorsport (i.e. Le Mans) and makes more sense logistically.

  10. Estorilunya? :P

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      25th January 2013, 13:47

      @calum so I’m not the only one who sees the similarities of this circuit and the Spanish venue…

    2. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
      25th January 2013, 15:10

      The general configuration of the track is pretty similar, but the corners themselves, and the way they are combined, seems very unique… the exception being the final sector, which seems nearly identical to pre-2007 Catalunya.

      1. The final corner at Algarve is nothing like the old final corner at Barcelona. Its longer, Faster & the track falls away quite a bit in the middle of it.

        Something you don’t see from the aerial map is just how much undulation there is at circuit Algarve, There’s very little of it thats actually level (Pretty much just where the starting grid is), The rest is nearly always going up or downhill.

        Its a spectacular circuit to drive on which is why all the drivers who have driven round it love it.

    3. @calum
      Yeah I noticed that as well, mainly from the aerial track map. Similar to Catalunya but from the onboard video there are a lot more blind apexes and undulations. Reminds me a little Turkey as well for some reason.

  11. I believe Imola got its Grade 1 certification recently. Amazing circuit, use that for race #20!

    1. Imola was/Is a nice track but the races there were always quite dull.

      Also the changes they made a few years back seem to have made the track more dangerous as there has been a lot of really big accidents in the new kink on the start straght & there’s no runoff & no tyre barriers there so you go straght into a concrete wall. There’s been a lot of criticism from drivers regarding it.

  12. Question on F1 @ Algarve:

    Would they use the hairpin for T1? I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

    Definitely a modern-day Catalunya in my eyes. Don’t mean that as an insult, though. Fantastic track.


      Answered my own question. Unfortunately, they would use the hairpin for T1.

  13. the layout looks remarkably similar to that of the Catalunya circuit

    1. I saw the similarities as well but I think Algarve has a better sense of flow to it. Might also lead to better racing too.

  14. I’m jumping! Of course, being realistic, I don’t really think it will happen, because even the private investors in Portugal are afraid of investing in anything of any kind. But I’m jumping in happiness because HE said it!

  15. It could be close to Barcelona in terms of layout, but it is anything but in terms of character.

    I like this track very much, despite having only a few high-speed, but not flat-out corners (thus excluding the final turn). The F1 layout uses the chicane at the end of the front straight, which makes matters worse – the track is available as a mod to GP4 from probably the best track builder community of the game, and I made personal modifications to it, to exclude the chicane. It makes T1 a very challenging, quick right-hander, which rises slightly and is slightly off-camber.

    Still, the elevation changes @keithcollantine mentioned means there are a lot of blind corners, which makes it interesting. My other favourite corners on the track is T11, which has a very unusual entry line, a bit like T15 in Austin, but more shallow – essentially the ideal line diverges from the usual way the ideal line runs along the circuit centreline near corners and this is what makes it interesting. Finally, there are a lot of ‘double-corners’, double-lefts or double-rights, the first of which is almost always only a flat-out kink, but it makes braking for the second, actual turn very very tricky.

    It is a very adventurous track, I think. It would be wonderful to have a race there.

  16. Told an AUSTRIAN paper that the race might go to Portugal?

    OK, call me cynical but I’ve been Bernie-watching for a while. This is a ploy to convince someone linked to Austria that they’d like the race at the A1-Tilke-Osterreichr-Red-Bull-Ring.


  17. Although I would really like to see a race in Portugal again, I’m not sure if this is the right track for F1 cars.

    It looks very interesting for driving alone, but it seems like it’s not really good for racing/overtaking. I might be a bit mistaken since I can’t tell the measure of it from the map, but it seems like corners are too close to each other. Not much room to stretch the legs of an F1 car.

    1. @brace Overtaking is over rated. Besides, why make it easy for them?

  18. It’s interesting and a great track which means that it’s not designed by Mr.Tilke.

  19. The Portuguese wouldn’t get a look in, the Brits would turn up in their numbers as usual!

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