Photo: PAULO MARIA

F1: Algarve due to replace China on 2023 calendar

F1 set to make its highly-anticipated return to Algarve

The return of Formula 1 racing to the Algarve next April is just a few details away from being confirmed.

The possibility was first reported last week by SportTV motorsports commentator João Carlos Costa, who posted on his Twitter page that the decision to replace the Chinese Grand Prix with a race at the Algarve International Racetrack is “imminent.”

Shortly after, it was the president of the Portuguese Automobile and Karting Federation (FPAK) who confirmed that talks are underway.

Speaking to Lusa news agency, Ni Amorim revealed that “Portugal is at the frontline” to replace China in the 2023 calendar after the cancellation of the Asian Grand Prix was announced on Friday.

“However, Portugal is not the only country interested, as Turkey is also in the running,” Amorim said.

Amorim said that he has already spoken to Portugal’s government about the matter but has yet to receive an answer about possible state support for the event.

“It will depend on whether there are funds for Portugal to host the GP,” he acknowledged. “The fees are expensive, but the return justifies the investment.”

The participation fees charged by the organisers of the Formula One championship vary from country to country but during the pandemic, according to Ni Amorim, the fee was around €30 million.

“Currently I don’t know what the requested values are, but it has not yet reached that stage of the negotiation,” he said.

Stressing that a decision would depend on the readiness of the government “to embrace this project”, Amorim said that “the FIAK will do its part to help the AIA to make this project viable” as “it would be very good for the country and for motorised sport.”

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The official announcement would come as an early Christmas present for motorsports fans in Portugal, who have been longing for the return of F1 action to the country since the Algarve was chosen as a replacement circuit for two races in 2020 and 2021.

British racer Lewis Hamilton was the winner on both occasions, having even made history with his 2020 win as he reached his 92nd career victory to beat Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.

Formula 1’s likely return to the Algarve will only happen however if the decision to cancel the Chinese Grand Prix is officially confirmed.

It was reported last week that China’s return to the F1 calendar will be cancelled due to the country’s strict Covid policies.

Conflicting dates

Nonetheless, one key issue for the return of F1 racing to the Algarve remains.

The Chinese Grand Prix was due to go ahead on April 16. If the Algarve is confirmed as the replacement venue, chances are that organisers will want the race to go ahead on the same date in order to not affect the F1 calendar further.

However, the Algarve International Racetrack is already set to host the first-ever 6 Hours of Portimão as part of the FIA World Endurance Championship 2023 on April 16.

Adjustments will certainly have to be made to bring both events to the circuit.

Further news is expected following the FIA World Council meeting on December 9.

By Michael Bruxo

michael.bruxo@portugalresident.com