Formula 1 bosses have officially confirmed that the Algarve International Racetrack in Portimão will host the Heineken Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix on May 2.
“We are thrilled to announce that Formula 1 will be racing again in Portimão after the huge success of the race last year,” said Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1. “We want to thank the promoter and the Portuguese Government for their hard work and dedication in getting us to this point. We are confident and excited about our 2021 season, having shown last year that we could deliver 17 races safely and bring our millions of fans thrilling racing at a difficult time.”
Whether the race will be open to fans remains to be decided. “We hope to welcome fans to Portimão again this season in a safe way and are working with the promoter on the details of that plan,” Domenicali said.
The Algarve International Racetrack has also said it is working closely with F1 bosses and the government to allow fans to see the race up close and that its priority will be “safety”. “We proved last year that it is possible to host races safely in the midst of a pandemic,” it added.
Meanwhile, the announcement has been celebrated by Portugal’s Secretary of State for Tourism. “Holding major events in our country is very important for the image and international promotion of Portugal as a tourist destination, and so it is with great interest that we see the return of Formula 1 to the Algarve in 2021,” said Rita Marques.
The secretary of state also thanked “the FIA and F1 for its confidence in Portugal, the Algarve and the Algarve International Racetrack by choosing our country to host a stage of the F1 calendar” and expressed the country’s “full commitment to make it a big success”.
The President of the Portuguese Federation of Motorsports and Karting believes the Portuguese GP could become an annual event. “When the last Portuguese GP was held in Portugal in 2020, we always said we would fight for it to be more than a replacement but to earn its place on the F1 calendar,” Ni Amorim told national news agency Lusa.
The hardest part has already been done, he said. “Now it is important to gather the conditions to have fans in the stands. Portugal is in a difficult economic situation and events like F1 will be very important for a region that relies on tourism.”
According to Amorim, “there is no reason why Portugal won’t be part of the calendar in the years to come.”