“Amazing, cool, challenging, rollercoaster, great fun” are all adjectives used by drivers to describe the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, Formula 1’s latest first-time venue, after the first day of free practice for Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix.
The venue in Portimão is hosting a Grand Prix for the first time (previously it was held in Estoril) and much like Mugello, in September, the ‘old school’ style track is proving to be quite a challenge for drivers, punishing mistakes which are begging to be made around the 4.692 km strip of slippery tarmac which was devoid of rubber and very green on the first day of action.
However, the overall feedback was positive as drivers came to grips with a track offering very little of it, as Formula 2 and Formula 3 are not on the weekend schedule to lay down welcome rubber.
Nevertheless, this is what they had to say on Friday afternoon in southern Portugal:
Charles Leclerc: “This track is amazing! It took quite a few laps to find the flow because you don’t really see any apexes but once you get into the rhythm, it’s really good. The circuit is also extremely slippery and the rear of the car is moving everywhere but I think that makes it even better in terms of fun! The grip level didn’t improve much throughout the sessions, which should make for an exciting race.”
Sebastian Vettel: “Today the track was a big but very interesting challenge for everybody. At the beginning, it was very slippery, mostly because of the resurfacing, but it is very smooth. It was my very first day and I liked it. It’s good that we have plenty of tracks that are exciting.”
Daniel: “The track is really cool and it’s very up and down with a lot of blind spots. The surface is a little difficult to drive on currently with very low grip as it’s quite new.
Esteban: “Today we were discovering a new track and a new venue, so it was very busy! The track itself is a bit like a rollercoaster, with so many ups and downs and it’s good fun to drive.”
Lewis Hamilton: “The elevation changes on this track are incredible. There’s a lot of places where you just can’t see where you are going, so that’s very challenging and the surface is also very smooth.”
Romain Grosjean: “I think it’s a really cool circuit, there’s a lot of up and downs, a lot of blind corners. It makes it hard to learn, if I’m being a hundred percent honest – I didn’t do any sim work, so my first laps were this morning.”
Antonio Giovinazzi: “I drove on this track in F3, but to go around here in a Formula One car is a completely different experience. It’s a really nice layout, with blind crests and challenging corners – a fun one to drive.”
Lance Stroll: “It’s a great circuit and the layout is a lot of fun – I just wish it had some more grip! But on the other side, that means it’s a challenge to drive and mistakes will be punished, so that makes it a really exciting watch for the fans.”