Fernando Alonso, Renault, Autodromo do Algarve, 2009

Ocon already practising Algarve circuit for possible F1 race

2020 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Esteban Ocon has been practising the Autodromo do Algarve on his home simulator in case the Portuguese circuit is added to the 2020 F1 calendar.

The Portimao circuit is one of several venues not on the original grand prix schedule for 2020 which has emerged as a potential venue due to the disruption caused to this year’s calendar.

Ocon said he already has experience of two other circuits which could form part of this year’s championship.

“It’s fantastic, I’m very happy to hear that because those tracks are tracks I love, old-school circuits like Mugello. Or like Imola, a track I raced not so long ago in Formula 3

“I still have to learn Portimao. I’ve done a lot of laps on my home sim which was good. But I’m happy to do a lot of races and if that’s the way we can do more in the future then it’s fantastic.”

Some F1 teams tested at Portimao in 2009 (pictured top). Ocon’s team mate Daniel Ricciardo is also excited about the possibility of getting to race on some other European circuits this year.

“The first circuit I heard was Mugello,” said Ricciardo. “That was a circuit I raced back in 2007 for the first time and it was my favourite circuit that season. I loved just the flowing, high-speed corners.

Daniel Ricciardo, Mugello, Toro Rosso, 2012
Ricciardo tested an F1 car at Mugello eight years ago
“In F1 it would be amazing. We had a test there, I think it was back in 2012 in F1. But the cars now, these 2020 cars around there would be insane. So certainly excited if that one takes place.”

Ricciardo scored his most recent championship triumph in the British Formula 3 series at the Algarve circuit in 2009.

“I have good memories in Portimao, it was where I wrapped up the F3 championship,” he said. “It was a circuit I really enjoyed, some good elevation and again, quite good flowing fast corners.

“So I’m not disappointed if any of these go ahead at all. I would be very excited. And I think I’ll invest in a home simulator or something to refresh but I’m fairly familiar with at least those two circuits.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

8 comments on “Ocon already practising Algarve circuit for possible F1 race”

  1. Irrespective of whether Algarve, Mugello or Imola join the 2020 calendar for a one-off event, FIA should really consider bringing these circuits to the ‘main’ calendar. Seriously, when was the last time that almost all drivers on the grid were saying over and over again how much they love a new circuit like they do now with these 3…?
    Paul-Ricard?, Baku?, Mexico?, Sochi?…Certainly not. Let alone that if we stage these races on those circuits post-Covid19 they will be absolutely packed with fans…and not just ‘plastic’ fans, but with people who watch and enjoy F1 since the 70s & 80s when Portugal had a race and Italy had two every year…

    They don’t even have to bring all 3 together in one year…they could alternate every other year Spain’s Catalunya, that is struggling financialy, with Portugal’s Algarve and they just can revive the ‘San Marino GP’ and alternate similarly every other year Imola and Mugello under that title (assuming both circuits don’t have the vast funds to host every year)…

  2. Fans will talk about how great it is to have some of these tracks on the F1 calendar, But as soon as the race starts & it’s realized/remembered that racing is next to impossible at them they will go back to calling them bad circuits & how F1 should never race there again.

    When Imola was last on the F1 calendar every year all you heard from fans was how bad the racing was because it was impossible to overtake. And yes I know they have modified the track since 2006 but based on the junior category races i’ve seen (Including GP2 in 2011) it’s no easier to pass at the new imola than it was the old one.

    I expect Mugello to be the same, It’s a great track but racing is next to impossible & I don’t think i’ve ever seen a good race around there involving cars. Even Touring cars struggle to race/overtake around there, Hence why DTM stopped going there after a few truly dreadful races.

    Algarve may be a bit better but i still don’t think the race would be that good due to the nature of the most of the middle/final sector.

    It’s just why F1 shouldn’t listen to fans, They flip-flop too often. One second a circuit is bad, Then suddenly it should come back because it’s ‘a classic’ & then when it does it’s bad again as everyone remembers why they disliked the racing it prodiced beforehand.

    1. @roger-ayles the French Grand Prix is a classic example of just that sort of behaviour.

      Back when we had races at Magny Cours, we had fans going “the races are boring – why don’t we go to Paul Ricard instead?”, with fans talking abut the races held there in the 1970s and 1980s – let’s not forget Magny Cours getting the nickname of Magny Bores because it was criticised for producing dull and processional races. Now that we have seen F1 move to Paul Ricard, we’re now hearing people go “the races are boring here – why don’t we go back to Magny Cours again?”.

      @black the feedback that the drivers had for some of those circuits came with caveats. If you look at Mugello, the drivers said it was a great circuit if you were on your own – but the races there would probably be dreadful because the layout meant that pretty much every single corner has only a single narrow optimal racing line.

      1. @roger-ayles Lot’s of classic tracks that we love often produce proccesional racing. Suzuka is a prime example, lots of fast corners and not so so long straights to overtake 100%. But that doesn’t mean fans and drivers don’t like going there and watching the races. Hungaroring is another, the ‘narrow Monaco’ as they call it, fast corners, single racing line, small straight and people usually found it boring, yet in the Hybrid era we have had some great races there despite our perceptions. Even Monza with its monster straights and its simple layout doesn’t exactly give us great races often.

        anon Imola, Mugello and Algarve maybe produce boring races, maybe average, maybe great. We don’t know and we can’t know until we try it. Cars change, before 2010 it was almost unthinkable to overtake without a better fuel strategy, nowdays its the tyres and better on-track overtake abilities. Cicruits can change too, even if they stay exactly the same. You won’t get the same race in Imola for example if you raced there in the 90s, or in the 00s, or today, or post-2022.

        PS: As for Paul-Ricard when people used to say to go back there, i think they ment to include the full Mistral straight so as to have a proper low downforce circuit (and probably not 10 miles of run-off areas on every corner)…instead the promoters stuck with the chicane because the have grandstands there and sell tickets. Anyway we only had two races there (dreadful nonetheless), but this could change for whatever reason in the future. Weather, sudden tyre mismanagement, etc…Valencia gave us 4 very boring races and one last excellent. Even Magny-Cours could give us great races in the current or future cars, just because the pre-2008 struggled to overtake without the correct fuel strategy doesn’t mean it’s a bad track.

        1. @black but the point is that so many fans want instant gratification and want to switch around venues as if it is nothing more than the selection screen of a game – they don’t want to see if the racing might get better in a few years time, they just want the novelty of something new now.

          As an aside, I don’t really get your comment about “people who watch and enjoy F1 since the 70s & 80s when Portugal had a race and Italy had two every year”, at least with regards to Portugal. You certainly couldn’t watch a Portuguese GP in the 1970s, as there were no races there – you had three races from 1958-1960, with the next Portuguese GP not occurring until 1984 (Estoril, which was the track used in 1984, wasn’t even that old – it was built in 1972, but had to be rebuilt in 1984 because it had mostly fallen apart by then).

          As a host nation, Portugal really doesn’t have much of a record of use in F1, or that much wider engagement in F1. There have been a grand total of just 16 races in Portugal, meaning that Bahrain has almost the same history (15 races so far), the same as China (currently on 16) and fewer than Malaysia (19 races) – Portugal in the 1980s was akin to, say, Singapore was when it was added to the calendar in the 2000s, and was mainly added because the teams were under pressure to stop going to Kyalami in South Africa.

          1. so many fans want instant gratification and want to switch around venues as if it is nothing more than the selection screen of a game – they don’t want to see if the racing might get better in a few years time, they just want the novelty of something new now

            I disagree with you, fans acknowledge when a track is good regardless of the racing, Suzuka is a prime example, great track but most of the last races there are processional (Mercedes have won every race since 2014), yet fans never say “drop Suzuka!”, we love it. Maybe in the future years racing there will become better, maybe not, it’ll still be a great track regardless.

            I think Mugello, Imola and Algarve deserve a chance because i think they’re great tracks and many drivers back that view… in comparison how many have said great things about Sochi or Abu Dhabi? In addition Mugello and Imola are located in Italy where every race there is packed with passionate fans and Algarve is in Portugal where in the ‘few’ races back then, the Portuguese GP was a popular round. Unlike Bahrain or China, two grand prixs which have more years under their belt hosting F1 than Portugal and they aren’t know for being packed with fans.

            The point about ‘switching around’ venues is not a fan fiction i have, but a grounded thought. At the moment unless a GP is bankrolled by a sheikh, an oligarch or a dictator, its place on the calendar is always uncertain because the local/state goverment that supports the event relies on revenue from the race. Sometimes circuits struggle to find the money to host a race every year and they drop only after a short period (Korea, India, etc). One solution is to alternate two circuits so as each one to host the race every other year because it makes financial sense for them. Germany does it, they alternated Hockenheim and Nurburgring (until Nurburgring was dropped because of lack of money) and Hockenheim ended up hosting the German GP every other year because they also don’t have money to host every year. In the past other countries did that, like France and Britain. So if Algarve wants a spot on the calendar, unless they have a lot of money to sign a contract to host the race every year which i doubt, one solution is to alternate the venue with Catalunya in Spain that’s also struggling financially. The same logic applies for Mugello and Imola.

            PS: Ok i made a mistake about Portugal in the 70s, i thought they hosted races in the 70s & 80s, not the 80s & 90s.

          2. @black you talk about every race being packed with passionate fans, but Monza has seen a variable turnout in recent years, and there have been years, such as 2016 and 2018, where the circuit was actually struggling for ticket sales.

            Whilst the 2018 race had a reasonable attendance on race day itself, the organisers reported that race weekend ticket sales weren’t great and people present commented the crowds for the practice sessions, and to some extent qualifying, were noticeably smaller than in earlier years.

            It’s why, although the circuit looked reasonably busy on race day in 2018, the 2018 Italian GP actually ended up making a loss – because most of those who attended only attended on race day itself, not the rest of the race weekend.

            Until fairly recently, the four day weekend figures for Monza were hovering between 140,000 and 150,000, which actually put Monza towards the lower end for race weekend attendance figures. In 2016, for example, Monza quoted total race weekend attendance figures of 147,500 – which is actually not that much better than China managed that year (140,000), and meant it was only the 13th best attended race that season. It’s only been a few of the more recent years, particularly 2017 and 2019, that have seen crowds that were comparable to the peak that Monza saw back in 2000.

  3. Jose Lopes da Silva
    27th June 2020, 13:26

    The problem is in the cars, not in the tracks. Never in the tracks.

Comments are closed.