Round 12 of the 2020 Formula One World Champion takes us this weekend to Portugal's beautiful Algarve region where the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, commonly known as Portimao Circuit, is located.
Although Portugal has been a regular on the F1 calendar from the sport's earliest years, it hasn't hosted a race since 1996. This weekend's 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix is a special event that was added after the calendar was reshuffled to get around coronavirus restrictions.
The Portimao Circuit was only completed in 2008 and thus has never hosted an F1 race, though some testing has taken here in the past. A lap stretches 2.9 miles and features numerous elevation changes, in some cases falling quite steeply. The undulations create some challenging blind corner apexes and exits, particularly at turn 10.
Drivers encounter 15 corners and a long straight, with the final very long right-hand corner expected to put lot of energy through the tires. Pirelli has nominated its harder compounds, the C1, C2 and C3.
Autodromo Internacional do Algarve (Portimao Circuit)
Making things harder for those in charge of the tires, a fresh surface installed only a few weeks ago will make things unpredictable, as can the weather at this time of year. The current forecast is for fine conditions throughout the weekend but with a slight chance of a shower during Sunday's race.
Going into Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's race, Mercedes-AMG's Lewis Hamilton leads the 2020 Drivers' Championship with 230 points. Fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is second with 161 points and Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen is third with 147 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 391 points versus the 211 of Red Bull and 120 of Racing Point.
Should Hamilton win, it will be his 92nd career win and a new record. At the previous round in Germany, he equalled Michael Schumacher's record of 91 wins. Hamilton this season also looks on track to equal Schumacher's record of seven world championships.
In other F1 news, Haas on Thursday announced it will have a new driver lineup in 2021, potentially paving the way for current Racing Point driver Sergio Perez or potentially even Ferrari junior driver Mick Schumacher to join the squad. Currently driving for Haas are Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, though together they've managed to win just three points this season.