Could Formula 1 be set to add the Portuguese Grand Prix back onto the calendar for the first time since 1996?
In order to be eligible to host a Formula 1 race weekend, circuits must reach certain requirements, most importantly surrounding safety. If these boxes are ticked, the FIA will grant a Grade 1 licence - boxes that have now officially been ticked by the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, also known as Potimao.
In 2008 and 2009, Formula 1 teams used Portimao as a testing venue. This trend has also extended into other categories with Touring Cars and GT championships also enjoying the warm temperatures and challenging, undulating layout.
European fans of Formula 1 had hoped that a European race would be found to fill the vacant slot left by Spain when the contract held by the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya expires after the 2020 race. Having also lost the German Grand Prix after the 2019 race, it was widely viewed that a like for like replacement was needed for Spain.
Portimao officials are in talks with MotoGP about hosting a Portuguese round of that particular championship and, having now reached the gold standard required to host F1, it seems likely that an approach will be made to bring the sport back to Portugal after a quarter of a century away.
The Portuguese Grand Prix - A brief history
Held for three years between 1958 and 1960, twice on the Boavista street circuit and once on the Monsanto circuit, Portugal would fail to feature on the calendar again until 1984.
Sir Stirling Moss took victory in both 1958 and 1959 while Sir Jack Brabham won in 1960 on his way to taking back-to-back world titles.
When the sport returned in 1984, Formula 1 would enjoy a prolonged period of racing in the country, a run that stretched for 13-years, on the purpose built Autódromo do Estoril.
The short 2.7 mile layout proved popular with fans, but by 1996 the facilities were in desperate need of renovation and, when the promised improvements were not made, the race was dropped - the European Grand Prix at Jerez filling the vacant space on the calendar.
The initial race in 1984 was taken by Alain Prost, the first of his three victories in Portugal. Nigel Mansell also scored three wins at Estoril [1986, 1990 and 1992] to tie as the most successful driver in the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The most recent race was won by Jacques Villeneuve in 1996, the Canadian leading home a one-two finish for Williams alongside Damon Hill. This would be the last time that Williams would achieve a one-two result until the 2002 Malaysian Grand Prix.
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