The Portuguese Government Wants Their F1 Grand Prix Back
Another venue lines up for a go at hosting a Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The expansion of the Formula 1 calendar sought by Liberty Media has seen more venues than one can visit in a lifetime applying to be a stop for the circus that is Formula 1, with further locales speculated as options. Long Beach, New York City, Las Vegas, Turkey, and Sweden have all been pitched as potential places for Formula 1 to compete. Of these five locations, four have hosted Formula 1 in the past, with the only motorsport virgin among them being New York City, which will be having its first race within city limits with Formula E in mid-July.
As Nintendo likes to say, a new challenger has appeared: Portugal. Between 1984 and 1996, Formula 1 stopped on its annual world tour in Portugal, at the circuit known colloquially as Estoril, though the official name is considerably longer. The circuit itself is where Niki Lauda won his final world championship, and the site of Ayrton Senna's first race win.
Portugal itself has a long history of grand enthusiasm for motorsport, and it could be argued that they loved Group B rally so much that they killed it off, kind of like Lenny and Curley's wife in Of Mice and Men.
As far as track choices go, Estoril does have the requisite FIA Grade 1 certification to host Formula 1, but the Portuguese government isn't grooming the historic track for a return to the event. Instead, they are looking toward the Algarve International Circuit, known to some as the Portimao Circuit, which counts a five star hotel and capacity for 100,000 spectators among its perks.
Though talks between the track's owners and the government are in only their infancy, the rebounding Portuguese economy has made the government more willing to take risks on economic opportunities such as this. Algarve is known to many as the site where presenters of The Grand Tour put the Porsche 918 Spyder, LaFerrari, and McLaren P1 up against each other in the series' inaugural episode. If the stars align for Portugal, it may soon also be known as the site of the new Portuguese Grand Prix.
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