The Algarve circuit in Portugal is primed to hold a round on this year’s Formula 1 world championship.

Crash.net understands that Portimao is close to securing a deal to stage a race with F1 bosses continuing in their efforts to finalise the remainder of the delayed 2020 season schedule, following the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Portimao’s hopes of hosting an F1 grand prix for the first time in its history were boosted earlier this year when it was awarded an FIA Grade 1 license, opening up the opportunity to join the calendar.

Last month circuit officials confirmed that initial discussions had taken place with F1 over the possibility of the venue holding an event on the revised 2020 calendar. The situation has since accelerated.

A round at Portimao would most likely act as a replacement for a cancelled flyaway event, with the already-shelved Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japanese Grands Prix expected to be followed by more cancellations. 

Ahead of last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix, F1 confirmed it will visit Mugello for the first time to form the last part of a third triple-header on September 13, following on from back-to-back races in Spa and Monza.

The Russian Grand Prix has also been announced as going ahead on its original slot of September 27, taking the total number of confirmed races up to 10.

Portimao is expected to follow the Sochi round in early October, before F1 attempts to reschedule the postponed Vietnam Grand Prix, marking the country’s debut on the calendar. 

While the Algarve circuit has never before hosted an F1 race, the 4.6km venue was used for F1 testing back in 2008 and 2009.

It is an attractive option for F1 due to its warm climate and close proximity to both local hotels and airports, which would help the sport maintain its controlled ‘biosphere’ environment. 

The 19-turn, high-speed thrill ride of a circuit is also a favourite among the drivers.

Daniel Ricciardo, who sealed his most recent championship title in British Formula 3 at Portimao in 2009, recently spoke of his excitement at the prospect of returning to the circuit in F1 machinery.

“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.

“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.”

Renault teammate Esteban Ocon said he loves “old-school circuits” and revealed he had already been practicing the Autodromo do Algarve on his simulator in anticipation of a race being held there this year.

“I still have to learn Portimao,” the Frenchman explained. “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.”

The Portuguese Grand Prix was an ever-present F1 calendar fixture between 1984 to 1996 when Estoril staged the race, before it dropped off the schedule after the circuit failed to meet required upgrade standards. 

Meanwhile, hopes of reviving the Chinese Grand Prix appear to have been compromised after China confirmed that no international sports will take place in the country this year, aside from preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. 

The US, Mexican and Brazilian races are in also in serious doubt with all three countries badly hit by COVID-19. Imola and Hockenheim are on standby in the event of more cancellations. 

F1 plans to conclude the 2020 world championship with a double-header in Bahrain before its Abu Dhabi finale in mid-December. 

 

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