25 October will be a historic date for Portuguese motorsports, with the return of Formula 1 to a national circuit after a long absence of 24 years. It will be held in the Algarve International Circuit (AIA), located in Mexilhoeira Grande Parish, Portimão Municipality.
Confirmation of this good news came this Friday afternoon, 24 July, at AIA, at a press conference that was attended by the Secretary of State for Youth and Sport, João Paulo Rebelo, the Secretary of State for Tourism, Rita Marques, the President of the Portuguese Motor Racing and Karting Federation, Ni Amorim, and the Mayor of Portimão, Isilda Gomes.
“The first thing I would like to say is: we did it!”, the Mayor began, adding that “we are really proud, because we have here a man called Paulo Pinheiro, who’s a dreamer and dreamt about Portimão and the Algarve International Circuit playing host to Formula 1.”
“His determination enchanted us all, including the prime minister, António Costa, who is an achiever”, said Isilda Gomes, who also highlighted the part played by her colleagues in the region, “so that this ambitious goal could be made a reality”, pointing out that the race will be “a source of pride for the Algarve and for Portugal, while at the same time doing our self-esteem a lot of good.”
As to the fact of it being held at the time of a pandemic, Isilda Gomes assured us that “the Algarve has been able to keep this health problem under control, thanks to the response capacity of the health professionals and other people involved, providing all possible safety assurances, to the point that we are now able to play host to what is a kind of gold medal in world sports.”
“The worldwide promotion of the competition and, indirectly, the Algarve as a tourist destination, cannot be quantified, as we will be able to reach the four corners of the earth and show everybody what our qualities are, from excellent hotels to tasty cuisine, not forgetting our wine, the magnificent beaches and the breath-taking countryside, as well as our historical and cultural heritage and the marinas that dot the coastline. But, above all, what will stand out is the hospitality the people of the Algarve will show and the warm welcome they will give to everybody”, the Mayor pointed out.
At the end of her speech, Isilda Gomes mentioned that “in addition to all of this are extremely high levels of safety, so I’m sure that the drivers and the teams will want to come back next year, making our event a fixture on the international calendar.”
SPECTATORS IN THE STANDS
Echoing the words of the mayor, the CEO of Parkalgarve, Paulo Pinheiro, said that “the first battle has been won and, for me personally, it has meant making the dream of a lifetime come true. Above all, this is the result of the work of a dedicated team, who went through very difficult moments due to COVID-19.”
“But we had the mindset to go after something that everybody said was impossible, and Parkalgarve, Portimão Council and the other municipalities in the Algarve, RTA, Turismo de Portugal and the Portuguese government worked together so we could host a Formula 1 race in our own right”, he said with undisguised pleasure.
According to Paulo Pinheiro, “contrary to what some people think, we won’t be a substitute race, as we’ve chosen the date that’s best for us and we’re going to have the race we wanted, with rules respecting all the health procedures, but with spectators. We wouldn’t have agreed to the return of Formula 1 to Portugal, on our racetrack for the first time, without people and without emotion.”
To this end, he believes that “it will be a victory because we will have spectators in the midst of the pandemic, correctly and safely, and our main goal is to ensure that Formula 1 will continue coming to Portimão in the coming years.”
The Formula 1 Heineken Portuguese Grand Prix 2020 will have a forecast economic and financial impact of EUR 30 million, at least, according to official estimates, and will have a varied programme that will include holding other competitions too, namely Formula 2, Formula 3 and the Porsche Supercup, to be held from 23 to 25 October.