Used for pre-season testing in 2008-09, the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve Round 12 of this year’s season. This will be the first time that Portugal has held a Grand Prix since 1996, where Jacques Villeneuve won at Estoril.
It’s a circuit with many similar characteristics to Mugello. It’s undulating, unforgiving and keeps the drivers constantly on their toes. A well-rounded package will be essential to success at Portimao, with less of an emphasis on engine power, with just the one DRS straight.
Ahead of lights out on Sunday, we’ve put together your one-stop-shop for all Formula 1 predictions and betting tips.
Portuguese Grand Prix predictions, betting tips and analysis
Lewis Hamilton now sits on the precipice of history. The Brit equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 race victories at the Eifel Grand Prix, taking advantage of Valterri Bottas’ misfortune in terms of reliability.
He may well have won anyway, but it certainly aided his cause and suggested that Bottas was finally starting to hit his top form. The Finn took pole at the Nurburgring by a commanding margin and had only just been overtaken prior to his power unit problem. With a positive Friday under his belt, Bottas has to be considered a stronger threat to Hamilton than usual.
Max Verstappen put in another customarily strong race for Red Bull, with the Dutch prodigy never quite getting into striking distance of Hamilton. It wasn’t from lacking of trying, however, and early signs are positive from Portimao. Although their car has been tricky to tame this season, Verstappen was best of the rest in both practice sessions behind the Mercedes. Can he challenge the Black Arrows come Saturday? Early indications suggest they’re out of reach.
Alex Albon is reaching crunch time, with chiefly Helmut Marko breathing down his neck as Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg remain free agents for 2021. He had an awful race in Germany, including a clash with Kyvat all of his own making, and he was no match for Verstappen on Friday. Something needs to change, and fast, but we’ve been saying that for some time.
It’s not often it can be said, but Ferrari can be encouraged by their pace on Friday. They nearly scored points with both cars in Germany and the same goal looks well within reach just two weeks later. Charles Leclerc finished 4th in both Free Practice sessions on Friday and Sebastian Vettel found his feet in FP2, so there’s plenty of reason to be positive of a double points finish for the Scuderia.
The midfield battle remains congested and little clues could be found on Friday as to who was winning that war. Renault are the form team heading into Portugal, with Daniel Ricciardo posting a podium finish in Germany. The French squad can be hopeful of another strong showing, though this circuit may not suit their car quite as much as the last race.
McLaren, however, are a team who will be right at home, with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris 5th and 3rd respectively in FP2. It wasn’t, however, a strong Friday for Racing Point, though there’s likely far more pace to be found under the hood. Perez nearly stole Riccardo’s podium in Germany and they need to start taking advantage of big opportunities.
Sebastian Vettel – Points Finish
It’s been a disappointing season for the four-time World Champion, but he has a very good chance of scoring points on Sunday. He looked to be slowly finding his feet at the venue on Friday and Ferrari, as a whole, have looked stronger in recent races. He’ll need the team to help him find the right strategy, something they’ve struggled to do for a large part of this season, but he deserves some luck at some stage.
Nevertheless, the pace of the Ferrari makes them a strong points contender now and with Vettel only a shade of odds on to capture a world championship point, he’s certainly the value in that market.
Valterri Bottas – Race Winner
Valterri Bottas has finally shown us what he’s capable of in recent rounds, winning in Russia (a shade fortunately) before a dominant pole at the Eifel Grand Prix. He was still in with a race-winning shout prior to both a poorly timed virtual safety car and subsequent engine failure ended his afternoon.
Bottas has experience at Portimao, being just one of a handful of drivers who can boast that. His form on Friday was customarily strong and if able to qualify well again on Saturday, the race will really open up for him.
More FST News: