Round 12 of the FIA Formula One World Championship brings us to a track hosting its very first Grand Prix this weekend, the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. Whilst the undulating circuit has never held a Formula One race before, it is not completely unfamiliar to the F1 fraternity as it was used for pre-season testing in the winters of 2008 and 2009. The 4.6km track has an elevation change baked into its layout that sends drivers swooping up and down hill, before culminating in a plunging run to the final right-hander at Galp leading back onto the pit straight. Whilst the majority of drivers are yet to experience the Portuguese circuit, both George Russell and Nicholas Latifi are fortunate to have driven there in previous years.
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: The twelfth event of the 2020 season takes place at the Algarve International Circuit, Portugal and is the first time that Formula One has raced in Portugal since 1996. The circuit - near Portimao – is a modern facility with an interesting layout, reminiscent of Barcelona, but with much more elevation change. The final high-speed corner, which returns the cars to the main straight is likely to become a favourite with the drivers.
We are looking forward to the challenge of another new circuit, having enjoyed the experience in Mugello and the Nürburgring. Losing the Friday running in Germany has left us with a lot of work to get through this weekend, and in addition to our own testing, we will complete some tyre testing for Pirelli during the opening 30 minutes of FP2.
Pirelli have brought their hardest tyre compounds to this event and have also brought more Hard tyres than usual. Depending on the nature of the asphalt and the temperature we find, this may prove to be quite conservative. However, as it is the same for all teams, then it is something that we will need to embrace and make the most of. The tyre grip will dictate the downforce level that teams choose to run and one of our main objectives on Friday will be to understand the trades of different rear wing levels. We have some new aerodynamic test parts this weekend and the drivers will share the programme to understand if the new components are behaving as expected.
We have a busy few days ahead of us and are looking forward to a new venue, some warm sunshine and a productive weekend.
George Russell: I am really looking forward to Portugal as it is a new circuit on this year’s calendar. It is a really great track and I haven’t raced there since 2015. It is very undulating with a lot of character, which is what all drivers love. It will be a challenge for all of the teams with no previous data to rely on, which will hopefully mix things up.
Nicholas Latifi: I am very excited to get on track at Portugal. It is a track that I have only been to once on a test day quite a few years ago. From what I remember, it is a very technical track with lots of elevation changes and very steep changes too, it has a roller-coaster feeling. It should be very fun to drive, and it will be a new challenge for everyone to discover and find the setup, as F1 hasn’t raced there. I am looking forward to that and hopefully we have a good weekend.