Portimao will be able to host Formula 1 races in the future after being awarded an FIA Grade 1 licence, opening up the opportunity to join the F1 calendar.

The Algarve International Circuit has recently undergone minor upgrades with the target of becoming a top level-specification track having already held an FIM Grade A licence which permits it to host the World Superbike championship, while Portimao officials are in talks with MotoGP organisers about hosting a Portuguese round.

Following the updates, Portimao has now been upgraded by the FIA to a Grade 1 circuit licence meaning it can host premier class four-wheel motorsport including F1.

Portimao has previously welcomed F1 teams as a test venue in 2008 and 2009 following the circuit’s completion 12 years ago and it is a popular destination for winter testing due to its warm climate and close proximity to both local hotels and airports.

The Portuguese Grand Prix was an ever-present F1 calendar fixture between 1984 to 1996 when Estoril hosted the race, before dropping off the calendar after the circuit failed to meet required upgrades. F1 has not raced in Portugal since Jacques Villeneuve’s win for Williams 25 years ago.

Portimao could act as an alternative venue for F1 if it struggles to find enough circuits able to host races for its reshuffled 2020 calendar amid the coronavirus crisis, but that prospect remains unlikely given circuits with contracts currently on the calendar will take priority while travel restrictions also remain in place in Portugal.

But with F1 bosses looking to expand the race calendar, Portugal could become an attractive prospect for the future in the Iberian Peninsula, especially with uncertainty around the Spanish Grand Prix. Last year Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya had been set to lose its F1 race until it secured a one-year contract extension for 2020.

Portimao also faces challenges joining the MotoGP calendar given it sits in a heavily congested region for races, but Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta has already outlined a sharing deal for five circuits (Portimao, Jerez, Valencia, Barcelona and Aragon) rotating between three slots per season.

 

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