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Five things to expect from the Portuguese Grand Prix

Five things to expect from the Portuguese Grand Prix

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Five things to expect from the Portuguese Grand Prix

Five things to expect from the Portuguese Grand Prix

Formula 1 returns to Portugal for the first time in 24 years this weekend at Portimao's Algarve International Circuit whose only previous F1 experience was a 2009 test.

After Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher's record haul of 91 wins last time out at the Nürburgring, the venue could be the setting for where a new landmark is posted.

Only a handful of the current grid have visited Portimão before, albeit in different machinery many years ago, so with a completely new challenge ahead for everyone, what can we expect to see this weekend?

Will 91 become 92?

Hamilton matched a record previously considered unreachable at the Eifel Grand Prix. His 91st grand prix victory drew him level with Schumacher at the German's old stomping ground.

But the reigning champion will not settle there as he has another championship to wrap up, and for the time being, only Valtteri Bottas can stop him adding to the tally.

Arguably, though, Bottas has performed the better of the two at the new venues this season. At Mugello, the pair were evenly-matched and the Finn should have won, whilst at the Nürburgring where he was faster, only a lock-up and an engine failure curtailed his progress.

Whenever victory 92 does arrive, it will surely be an even more special moment in the history of the sport than that of win 91.

Albon back on track?

It would not be harsh to say Alex Albon has had two difficult races since his maiden podium at the Tuscan Grand Prix.

The Thai-British driver struggled at Sochi after an early mistake brought an off-sequence pit-stop, and although you could argue his recovery to score a point was impressive, at the Eifel Grand Prix he endured a miserable day.

More mistakes, a distinct lack of pace and some dreadful post-race body language really made you fear the worst. Add to that comments made by Dr Helmut Marko surrounding the availability of Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Perez on the market and Albon's future looks bleak.

His 2021 plans remain in his hands, though, and if the last new venue - Mugello - is anything to go by he should enjoy an improved weekend. In Tuscany, he qualified fourth and finished third, and a similar result would go down a storm as he fights for his seat with the team.

There is no reason why Albon shouldn't be able to claw his way up the grid.

Weather... should be sunny, right?

After the cold temperatures of a foggy, wet Nürburgring, a week in the Algarve sounds brilliant. Well...

As it stands, the forecast is for sunshine and 20 degrees Celsius throughout Friday and Saturday, but there is a chance of rain for Sunday. When we say a chance, it is less than 20 per cent, but here is hoping we get the spicy conditions we were never afforded on race day two weeks ago.

It will be tricky enough for teams to turn up to a completely new venue with hardly any simulator time to prepare the car for dry weather running, let alone if the conditions are changeable.

Tattoo accomplished - now for more!

With Daniel Ricciardo securing Renault's first podium for nine years at the Eifel GP, Cyril Abiteboul is now in line to be adorned with a tattoo he wagered with the Australian last year.

On a serious note, Renault has been fantastic since race seven onwards, constantly battling in the upper reaches of the top 10.

With their continuing speed and a greater understanding of the car on higher downforce circuits, the team looks good value for a push for third in the standings.

Portimão, with its long straights and medium-to-high speed corners, should suit the car after strong performances in Mugello and the Nürburgring.

If Ricciardo can maintain his form and Esteban Ocon can catch a break, Racing Point will be looking over its shoulder with growing concern.

Williams to finally score points?

Williams is so close to scoring points. It is hard to believe the team remains pointless after how close they have come in recent times.

It seems all that is missing at the moment is luck, but luck is all swings and roundabouts. George Russell, especially, is due some good fortune to go his way whilst Nicholas Latifi has looked in strong form on a race day so far this season.

They may struggle initially as they are without a simulator programme for the circuit, but from what we have seen this season, the circuit layout should suit the car more than others.

Oh, and the team has won the last three Portuguese GPs. Not that this particular stat will help in any way.

Before you go...

How Mercedes can secure a record-breaking constructors' championship in Portugal

"Negative" feelings over Ricciardo's Renault exit now in the past - Abiteboul

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