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Formula One motor racing could be on its way back to Portugal. The Algarve circuit is reportedly set to host a doubleheader in 2020, bringing F1 to the country for the first time in 24 years. The Portimao Circuit has never been used for top-flight F1 racing, but bosses within Formula 1 are said to be in negotiations regarding a doubleheader of events staged here.
Following the decision to postpone the Singapore, Azerbaijan and Japanese Grand Prix races for 2020, there is work to be done by F1 officials to try and “pad out” this season’s remodeled calendar. Reports in the Portuguese mainstream press A BOLA say that the Portimao Circuit is thought to have been one of several European circuits under consideration for inclusion in this year’s schedule and there is “a lot of willingness” among the F1 teams for the Algarve venue to be selected. Back in December 2008 and January 2009, group testing sessions ahead of the 2009 F1 World Championship were hosted at Portimao, with Lewis Hamilton the only driver in today’s standings to have experienced the circuit.
Ross Brawn, managing director of motorsport at F1, intimated that there were a “number of good European tracks” that could enable this year’s season to be a “comprehensive” one. Although Brawn added that the organization was not yet in a position to “declare” any new races, he indicated discussions were “a work in progress.” The first Portuguese Grand Prix is thought to be penciled in for September 27. This would be followed by an “Algarve” Grand Prix the following week. Estoril was the venue for the last official Portuguese F1 Grand Prix in 1996, but the country has been shunned in favor of more lucrative venues in recent decades.
What will the 2020 F1 season look like?
Already, the anticipation is hotting up for the start of the revamped 2020 F1 campaign. The Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring will be the first European venue to stage back-to-back races for the 2020 season. When it comes to futures wagering on the first Austrian Grand Prix, FOX Bet’s legalized platform in New Jersey, Colorado and Pennsylvania is struggling to separate Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen as likely winners, rating both at +200 joint-favorites prerace.
There will also be a doubleheader British Grand Prix after the UK government gave the green light to stage two races back-to-back at Silverstone in August. The British Grand Prix remains one of just two race meetings on the F1 calendar that has been part of the annual world championships since its first season in 1950. There will be a slight difference to the second British Grand Prix weekend given that FIA and Formula 1 have opted to alter the tire compound choices. By changing the three available tire compounds across both races, it will require teams to change strategies from week-to-week and keep things interesting for the fans.
Concerns within the Mercedes camp are already being aired as to whether Lewis Hamilton will have enough races to build up a lead over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Mercedes’ technical director, James Allison, has said publicly that the German team anticipates Verstappen to be particularly strong in the opening two races of the calendar in Red Bull’s home of Austria. Verstappen has won the Austrian Grand Prix in the last two seasons and will certainly be a stiff proposition for Lewis Hamilton, as the futures F1 betting odds previously discussed suggest. By contrast, the last two Austrian Grand Prix races have been something of a nightmare for the entire Mercedes team. Two years ago, both Hamilton and Bottas were forced to retire and last year, both drivers sustained engine temperature issues that prevented them from being able to push for the win.
Allison added that Ferrari “showed glimpses of some form” during the preseason testing days, but the noises coming out of Mercedes suggest that Red Bull are likely to be just as much of a rival as Ferrari in 2020.