Ferrari, Autodromo do Algarve, 2008

Algarve track to have single DRS zone for first F1 race

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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A single DRS zone will be used at the Autodromo do Algarve, which is holding its first ever Formula 1 race this weekend.

Drivers will be able to use DRS along the pit straight which is the longest flat-out section on the 4.6-kilometre track. The detection point will be at the exit of the penultimate corner, turn 14, and drivers will be able to activate DRS 125 metres after the high-speed final turn 15.

Formula 1 last visited the circuit near Portimao in January 2009 for a test session, which was disrupted by rain.

Many F1 drivers have not previously raced at the circuit. Alexander Albon is one of few who have.

“I have good memories from Portimao with pole position and a podium there in Formula 3,” he said. “It’s a really cool track with a lot of character and a good flow to it.

Algarve International Circuit, Portugal, 2020
Algarve International Circuit map
“The first thing that hits you when you arrive are the mega-impressive elevation changes throughout the circuit. It’s going to be physical with the heat and it’s quite a bumpy track with some blind corners on entry which just adds to the fun.

“At one section of track you go up a hill almost blind where you feel like the car is going to take off and then it suddenly drops down a hill before rising again into a completely blind corner. You brake, turn in, and you don’t know where you’re going and then the corner just appears on your right, before dropping down massively again.

“It’s really impressive and it’ll be good because I think, as we saw in Mugello, new tracks are fun and make it interesting. They throw the dice a bit in terms of how teams are able to adapt to the circuit.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 20 comments on “Algarve track to have single DRS zone for first F1 race”

    1. Just watched the report of MotoGP test held at this track last week and pretty sure F1 wont do justice to blind elevation changes to corners(similar to Phillip Island track) which will make the race quite interesting for F1 cars.

    2. I think we would have seen a decent amount of overtaking on the main straight without DRS given it’s length & how strong the slipstream can be with current cars.

      Overtaking will perhaps be more marginal into T4 so putting a single DRS zone on the run between Turns 3 & 4 may have made a bit more sense. Putting it in the place where overtaking was likely already going to be possible may just end up making it a tad too easy.

      1. @stefmeister Not necessarily given the high-speed nature of T1 unless a move was to happen earlier on the straight.

        1. So we’re going to have cars cruising past each other on the straight? Great…

          Another race which will be ruined by DRS…

          1. Mid to high speed turns both before and after the straight will be difficult for following cars

            1. Silverstone races showed pretty good racing though

            2. Silverstone has several straights, two of which have low speed turns at the end

            3. @pastaman But only two proper-length ones.

    3. I think the only other section, which could be safe as a DRS zone in terms of F1, could be the quite lengthy and steep straight between turn 4 and 5. Elsewhere it’s full of elevation changes and even a bit or a bit more banked turns, so I categorize it as a real GP track, although with some amazing old school traits, so something like a slightly more modern version of Zandvoort with more elevation changes :)

      On the other hand, Russell said that it would be better to use the much slower version of Turn 1, that would be a quite slow Turn 1 and probably would bring some amazing moments after the start, but on the other hand I like the fast version of it, even if it’s easy to go off track on it’s exit (and carry more speed because there is a convenient concrete runoff), because it’s quite hard to hit, and quite fast. But yes, because of these it’s very hard to judge cuts there and that can affect results.

      1. @Jockey Ewing, I prefer this version of T1 over the chicane variation as the chicane breaks the flow unnecessarily.

        1. I prefer the faster T1 too, that’s more modern F1 to me, I think Russell was emphasizing that the slower T1 would bring less debates about cutting. In Raceroom the Club, and Club Chicane layouts have some additional really challenging turns, I enjoy them quite much :) Especially the end of the combination between T12 and T14 at Club Chicane where it rejoins the GP layout, I tried to practice Scandinavian flick (or pendulum turn), as it’s so narrow, and it drops after a climb and bends towards outside as well, it’s quite easy to fail :)

    4. Weird as I fully expected two this whole time with the other one on the straight from T4 to T5, which is a decent length for an activation zone, longer than some other straights used as activation zones. At around 532 m, it’s a similar length to Montmelo’s T9-T10 straight or even longer than that, so I wonder what’s the reasoning against an activation zone there despite the following corner not being a flat out one such as Blanchimont, 130R, or Abbey.

      1. There is elevation change between T4-5 which makes it quite unsuitable for drs, watch the preview posted by F1 and the video of motogp test from last week.

        1. But also there is elevation change on the start/finish straight; despite it is longer than the straight between T4 and T5. So, it doesn’t make sense in my opinion. Maybe the drivers would have tried to use DRS in there in the FPs on Friday; if the DRS wouldn’t make sense or would result in dangerous incidents, then it would be abandoned for the qualifyings and race.

        2. @Chaitanya Less elevation change than on the S/F straight, so not any riskier than on the main straight towards the high-speed T1.

        3. To me T4 seems to be quite challenging, and I have seen many accidents (in sim) due to oversteering and due to understeering on the exit of T4 as well, and a lot of fishtailing happened there to me as well, so that is not an easy turn. So probably the DRS activation point would be a bit later than the T4’s exit.

          But is a steep climb not suitable to be a DRS zone because of its steepness by itself? (As an armchair warrior, I don’t know what’s the reason behind it, so the reasoning would be the most interesting part of it.)

          Downforce helps a lot if there is a lot of load change due to elevation, but there is no change between T4 and T5, that is a steep climb with quite constant steepness. While T5 seems to be a bit banked, so the large part of braking should be done before that, but still the straight, between T4 and T5 seems to be one of the simplest sections of the track, so that’s why I expected it to be suitable as a shorter DRS zone.

          Anyway I hope it will be eventful by itself instead of safety cars, and red flags like at Mugello, because being eventful is not good at those costs.

    5. It’s a real shame they’ve gone for such a long DRS zone. It’s not needed. The cars should be able to follow relatively easily through the final turn, as a modern F1 car will breeze it, so it shouldn’t be hugely aero dependent.

      I’d have also really liked to have seen another DRS zone on the backstraight between T4-5 (with a detection point on T3). The whole point of DRS was to open up new overtaking zones and create more opportunities, not make the possible ones a guarantee.

      1. @ecwdanselby In qualifying, yes, but in race trim, staying close behind the car in front through the preceding corner mightn’t necessarily be as easy, so not a given flyby on the straight.

    6. There is no piece of straight track so no surprises here. The real surprise is if anyone ends up pronouncing Portimão right by the end of the event.

      1. My son is named Sebastião so has the same “ão” sound and we live abroad (Netherlands) and no on besides Portuguese speaking natives can get the sound right.
        It does seem to be a very unique sound, difficult to reproduce if you’re not used to it for early age (or become very fluent, I suppose by living in a Portuguese speaking country for some time)

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