And welcome to our coverage for practice for the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix. It’s the first edition of a Formula One race in Portugal since 1996 and we see F1 on a brand new circuit for the second time in 2020. The original calendar had a few new additions — Zandvoort in Holland and the Hanoi Street Circuit in Vietnam — so it will be good to see the cars on an unfamiliar circuit and with limited running data, as was the case at Mugello. The last time F1 cars ran here was over a decade ago, so that data is unlikely to be all that useful to the teams.
The Autódromo do Algarve is an intriguing circuit with plenty of rolling corners, a couple of tighter ones and a long straight. If these current F1 cars weren’t such high-downforce mega beasts then I’d say we could be in for an interesting race. As it is we might just have to settle for the majesty of them wanging their way around the ups and downs at high speed. I guess that might not be so bad?
What are the stories this weekend? Well firstly, Lewis Hamilton will be targeting his 92nd Grand Prix victory. Were he to achieve that — and let’s be honest it is by far the most likely result — he will become the most successful driver in F1 history on that metric, overtaking Michael Schumacher’s 91. When he scores his seventh world title this season (it’s really when not if at the moment…) he will be the de facto most successful F1 driver ever. Does that make him the greatest? No, but that is another debate for another time.
Elsewhere on the grid, the long-standing partnership between Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen at Haas will be coming to an end after this season finishes, with both drivers not retained for 2021. Grosjean had been with the team since its inception in 2016 whilst Magnussen joined a year later. There was reasonable success for both drivers and the team in 2017 and 2018 but the last two years have been difficult in the extreme, especially this year.
Where will both men end up? The number of available seats for next year is quite limited, so there is a good chance but will leave the F1 grid. It wouldn’t be the worst thing if Magnussen followed in his father’s footsteps and going into endurance racing. What it means, though, is that those drivers without confirmed seats (Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, Callum Ilott) could be quite keen to move to the American team for 2021.