Portugal GP: Preview - Aston Martin

27/04/2021
NEWS STORY

After a last-minute call up in 2020, Formula One returns to Portugal this weekend as it takes on the rollercoaster Algarve International Circuit. With high-speed corners taken blind, daunting crests and dips, and a challenging track surface, this is an all-out lap where the search for maximum grip on the limit can make or break a Grand Prix.

Lance Stroll: "We head to Portugal feeling positive that we're making progress in unlocking the full potential of the AMR21. There's an exciting battle within the midfield pack, and our aim is to compete at the front of it - another clean weekend, and the prospect of more points, will ensure we maintain our momentum."

Sebastian Vettel: "I think Portimao is a good place to aim for a clean weekend - the circuit is a high-speed autodrome; very smooth, and with plenty of gradient. It's fun to drive, and I think it'll be a good place to get a better handle on the limits of the AMR21. I know I'm yet to get the maximum from the car - but the fact that we understand that is another good reason to keep pushing."

With a rollercoaster layout and limited data to pull upon, the Portuguese Grand Prix promises to be both eventful and unpredictable. Our strategy engineers have analysed historic data and more recent car performance to predict the key factors that could determine the result on Sunday - presented here in partnership with our Title Partner Cognizant.

Overtaking: Usually one of the easiest circuits on the calendar for overtaking, particularly on the long run down to Turn One. In fact, 49 of the 55 overtakes (89%) made in last year's Grand Prix came at the opening corner.

DRS: It plays a vital role here, but changes have been made for this year's race. The start/finish line's DRS zone is reduced by 165m, which could impact passing into Turn One. But a secondary zone has been added on the straight between Turns Four and Turn Five, with the latter corner already a hotspot for overtaking.

Run-off: Portimao is the opposite of Imola when it comes to track limits - it has sweeping expanses of smooth run-off. While Imola is particularly punishing, so is Portimao - except it's the stewards who tend to be kept busy. In 2020, 194 laps were deleted for infringements - that compares to 63 in Imola last time out.

While there were no Safety Cars in last year's race, there were three red flags in practice and the low-grip surface created a surprising start to the Grand Prix as drivers struggled for traction away from the line. Expect incidents!

Strategy: It's likely to be a uniform one-stopper due to low tyre degradation. Last year, most drivers chose to pit just once - the only exceptions being those affected by an issue or hit with a penalty. Pirelli is bringing its C1, C2 and C3 tyres this weekend, the hardest range available.

Unlocking the Lap - with SentinelOne

A lap of Portimao requires commitment, whether it's approaching high-speed blind crests, finding the limits in long-sweeping corners, or carrying maximum speeds into the long straights.

The majority of the 969m start/finish line opens the lap at Portimao, with drivers carrying significant speed into a tricky, bowl-shaped right-hander at Turn One. With plenty of opportunity for slipstreaming, it's the key place to overtake - but also very easy to run wide and pick up a stewards' warning.

It's simple to follow Turn Two's flat-out kink by going wide into Turn Three, Lagos. It's the slowest corner on the track - and is unusually wide for such a big stop. The tight and technical second and third sectors mean most battles are usually resolved by Turn Five.

Portimao is notable for its swoops and dives. On average, tracks feature gradient changes of around 8 per cent - the steepest gradient at Portimao is a 16 per cent downhill slope, with the track sweeping steeply downhill between Turns Eight and Nine and 11 and 12.

Sagres corner (Turn 14) requires a late turn-in followed by a wide exit is key as drivers sweep into the final corner, Galp. This turn starts off blind, but drivers can gather speed through the apex all the way through to the finish line. It also takes precision to excel here on an in-lap - with the pit entry placed at a tricky angle.

Expect top speeds of over 352km/h (219mph) on the main straight.

In Numbers

Number of laps 66

Lap length 4.653km

Number of corners 15

Race distance 306.826km

Lap record 1:18.750 (Lewis Hamilton, 2020)

Qualifying lap record 1:16.652 (Lewis Hamilton, 2020)

Data Download

0.5: The number of points that decided the 1984 Formula One World Championship in favour of Niki Lauda, despite Alain Prost's victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix.

4: Portimao is the fourth Portuguese Grand Prix venue to host a World Championship race after Boavista, Monsanto and Estoril.

7: The number of months it took to build the Algarve International Circuit, which opened in 2008.

32: The number of circuit configurations at the Algarve International Circuit, which includes bespoke designs for both car and bike racing across a spectrum of speed ranges.

92: Lewis Hamilton took his 92nd Grand Prix win in the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix, breaking Michael Schumacher's long-held record for the most amount of World Championship wins.

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Published: 27/04/2021
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