Portugal was set to host a Grand Prix again in 2021, but a recent spike in coronavirus cases may have put an end to this plan.
After debuting in the Formula 1 world in 2020, the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve was considered to be at the front of the queue to stage an F1 race this season in place of the Vietnam Grand Prix on May 2, one week before the Spanish Grand Prix and two after the Imola race, which got the China Grand Prix slot.
But in recent weeks the Iberian country suffered a big increase in the number of COVID-19 cases with some of its regions reaching alarming levels.
This situation may have a strong impact on plans to stage the third race of the season in Portugal, as it was imperative to have fans in the grandstands for the event make commercial sense.
The Federação Portuguesa de Automobilismo e Karting’s (FPAK) president Ni Amorim, a former DTM driver, said that the deadline to make a resolution is looming, but it’s still hard to predict the situation that the country will be in almost three months before the scheduled date of the race.
“We should have a decision by the end of the month (January), but it was delayed to the middle of February. The question is if we will have fans or not, which at this stage it’s hard to anticipate,” said Amorim.
In the last few days, rumours circulating indicate that a second race in Bahrain may cover the Vietnam GP slot and the FPAK’s president is aware of the situation and is seeking for the Portuguese government help.
“There are lots of countries that want a Formula 1 Grand Prix,” Amorim added.
“We have to fight and do our job and the authorities should cooperate with us to open a window of hope. We have to understand if it’s possible to organize an event without fans, but with the state support.”
The 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix was won by Lewis Hamilton, his 91st and record-equalling race win – a moment that witnessed by 27,000 fans in the grandstands.