Charles Leclerc is looking forward to racing at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve for the first time since 2015 this weekend, although it will be his first experience of the Portimão track in Formula 1 machinery.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver feels the Portimão circuit is both ‘modern’ and ‘interesting’, and he cannot wait to experience the track this weekend with his SF1000. His one and only previous experience of the circuit was back in 2015 in Formula 3, but he expects a much different challenge this weekend.
Ferrari have shown some improvements of late, and with fresh updates being brought to Portugal this weekend, Leclerc is hopeful their upward swing can continue.
“I’ve raced just the once at Portimão, in 2015 in Formula 3,” said Leclerc. “From what I remember, it’s great fun to drive with a lot of climbs and drops. It’s a modern and interesting circuit and the weather should be a lot warmer than at the last race in Germany.
“It will be interesting to check the handling of our car on all the different types of corners with higher temperatures.”
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel has never before raced at Portimão, but the experienced German admits he finds it ‘stimulating’ to race at a track for the first time.
Vettel, who has endured a torrid 2020 season to date and will be leaving Ferrari for Aston Martin Racing in 2021, says getting the most of the free practice sessions this weekend in Portugal will be essential if they want to be competitive come Sunday afternoon.
“I’ve never raced at Portimão, so I have no first-hand experience on which to assess it, but I always find it very stimulating to race at a new track,” said Vettel.
“From studying the layout, I can see there are a lot of gradient changes and several blind corners which will be difficult to judge. It will be important to make the most of free practice to get the hang of the circuit as quickly as possible.”