Buckle up, sit back and enjoy the ride. We’re at Portimão this weekend for the Portuguese Grand Prix and, just in case our podium last time out wasn’t exciting enough for you, the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve – with its dizzying elevation changes and fiendishly tricky twists and turns – has all the ingredients to throw up a rollercoaster race.
To set you up for the Portuguese Grand Prix, our latest preview has the thoughts of McLaren F1 drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, and Team Principal Andreas Seidl, as well as the inside line on what you should be watching out for this weekend and news of some brand-new McLaren merch that’s attracting plenty of hype.
How to follow
|Where||Autódromo Internacional do Algarve|
|When||30 April - 2 May|
|Start time||15:00 local, 15:00 BST, 10:00 EDT|
|Follow||TEAMStream and the McLaren App for exclusive commentary and insight|
What they say
“Being on the podium for the second time in Formula 1 was an amazing feeling, but I couldn’t have done it without every single person in the team. Everyone at track and the factory continues to go above and beyond to give us the best possible chance every weekend. The result shows the progress we’re making to compete closer towards the front of the grid, but we know not every race will go in our favour. We just need to keep our head down and look to improve in all areas to find that extra tenth that can give us the edge against strong competition. I think Imola really showed us that we need to try to turn every opportunity into an advantage with the fight being so close.
“I’m glad we get to return to Portugal this weekend as it was a circuit that added something different to last year’s calendar. The elevation changes at this track make it a demanding drive with several blind corners. Everyone was struggling for grip there last year with the track being recently resurfaced, so it’ll be interesting to see what it’s like this weekend. Hopefully we’ll be able to push the car a bit more this time around.”
“Up next is Portimão and I’m eager to get back in the car. Racing there is a lot of fun with the track having some unique elements that you don’t see at every race on the calendar. There’s a good mixture of high and low-speed corners with various changes in elevation that make it an exciting challenge. Coming out of some of the turns, you can really feel your stomach drop with the steep changes in gradient.
“This weekend, I want to keep building on the progress we’ve made in the first two races and put what we learned at Imola into practice. We’ve definitely started the season on the right foot by scoring good points for the Constructors’ Championship, so I can’t be too disappointed on that front. There are a few elements I’m still trying to get to grips with which is only going to get better with more time behind the wheel. Seeing Lando achieve a podium showed the potential of the car which is super motivating. We’re only three races in and there’s a lot more to come from me, so let’s keep it going.”
“This weekend sees us start the first double-header of the season as we prepare to go racing in Portugal then Spain. Portimão was a welcome addition to the calendar last year and it’s great to be returning to race there again. Back-to-back events provide a unique set of challenges for the team that we’re well prepared for. Reliability, operational effectiveness and the management of spare parts are crucial to the success of these weekends.
“Imola again provided confirmation of the step forward we’ve made as a team, which is encouraging to see. Both drivers are doing a good job on-track and have scored some important points for the Constructors’ Championship over the first two races. It’s important that we keep the positive momentum and energy up. There’s still a lot of work to do as we look to keep pushing and deliver upgrades that are in the pipeline. We also need to continue to maximise any opportunities that present themselves and make the right decisions to stay in the mix. Every single member of the team is dedicated to giving our competition a hard time out on track. We remain focused and are ready to go again this weekend.”
What the stats say
Although the Portuguese Grand Prix is nothing new, racing at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is still something of a novelty in F1. 2020 was the first time we’ve raced here and we took advantage of a damp track in the opening stages to lead four laps of last year’s race – the first we’ve led in free air since 2014. However, front wing damage put paid to Lando’s points-scoring chances, while Daniel bagged points after bouncing back from a spin in qualifying which prevented him from running in the top-10 shootout.
Take a deeper dive into the history books and you’ll find that prior to 2020, the last time the Portuguese Grand Prix was held was in 1996 at Circuito do Estoril. We’ve won this race a total of three times, all with Alain Prost behind the wheel (1984, 1987, and 1988). Both ’84 and ’88 saw us come away with one-two finishes, with Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna in second respectively – the former’s podium enough to clinch the title by half a point from team-mate Alain.
What to watch out for
Ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix in October last year, the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve was resurfaced and that led to some interesting situations as drivers scrabbled for grip. New asphalt takes a while to cure, and just how slippery the surface remains is an unknown until we venture out on track this week. It could throw a bit of a curve ball, especially if it’s wet – the oils in a newly resurfaced circuit can float to the top when it rains and that can create difficulties with grip. Speaking of grip, you can get to grips with Portimão by checking out our track guide with McLaren test and development driver Will Stevens.
Similarly to Imola a fortnight ago, pit-loss time is high here, so teams will try to limit the number of stops; a one-stop strategy is possible and likely to be a popular choice for this reason coupled with the fact that it can be difficult to overtake at Portimão. It’s not as hard to pull off a move here as it was at Imola but hooking up a good lap in qualifying is likely to determine fortunes on race day.
Where Portimão differs from Imola and Bahrain – which have preceded it this season – is that it has more slow- and medium-speed corners. With the field so tight, we might see a slightly different pecking order this weekend. Cars that are particularly strong in lower-speed corners, might perform better in Portugal than they have in Imola and Bahrain.
What to wear
Can you feel the hype? If you can’t, then you need to get your hands on the Hypertone New Era 9FORTY Cap. And if you can, then you still need to get this cap. With its ‘holographic’ fabric, it’s the perfect fusion of fashion and fanwear and the sure-fire way to stand out on track and off it.
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