23 22 One last sip, checking the helmet one more time, tightening the seat belt. The tension is downright tangible. Adrenalin floods the body and a notable stillness replaces the bubbly excitement from be- fore. Only a few minutes left until the start of the biggest motorsport event in the world, Formula 1. No matter in which country the racers fight for victory in their bolides, the fans come running to- ward the race track to be close to the action. It’s already been 21 years since the last Portuguese Grand Prix, which was held in 1996 in Estoril, near Lisbon.The Canadian driver Jacques Villeneuve won the race in a Williams Renault, finishing ahead of the British driver Damon Hill, also driving a Williams Renault. Michael Schumacher came in third, in a Ferrari. The German racing legend had won the Portuguese Grand Prix two years before- hand, in 1994, back when he was still with Benne- ton Ford Cosworth. After more than 20 years of abstinence, the return of the most prestigious class in motorsport to Portugal would be a sensation. Discussions have admittedly been going on for long, but never have they been as serious as this year. Formula 1 owners have met with those responsible for the Internacio- nal do Algarve, AIA, and gave the green light for Formula 1 in April. As a result, the biggest sports event in the country could soon be held at the Algarve. »We have made many improvements to the race track and are proud to now meet the re- quirements of the FIA«, reports Joana Melo, head of the marketing & communication department at Autodromo. »We already ran two successful tests over the summer, both with top Formula 1 teams. The feedback we received from racers, teams and producers has been absolutely positive. They appre- ciate the total care.« An internationally renowned circuit After having being built in only seven months, the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve opened on 2 November 2008. It was a race against time, given that the circuit was set to make its debut that same year, hosting the Grand Final of the Superbike World Championship. The 4.692 km-long circuit costed 195 million to build and covers a total area of 300 hectares, which also boasts a karting track, a technology park, a sports complex, a five-star hotel and apartments. As a result, the track satisfies the wide-ranging needs in the world of auto racing and motorsport, from designers to race teams and companies, al- lowing them to present, test and develop their products.That’s not the only reason why the course is home to a wide range of internationally-re- nowned races, such as the aforementioned Super- bike World Championship, the World Touring Car Championship, the FIA GT1 World Championship, the European Le Mans Series, the GP2 Series (which since 2017 has been known as the European Formu- la 2 Championship), the Race of Champions and many, many more. The Glamour returns to Portugal Filipe, how do you feel looking back on those days? Well, the very first time I really drove in Formula 1 was as part of a Red Bull show event in Colombia. I remember it clearly. We went down to the port so I could familiarise myself with my car and learn how to do doughnuts. Well, I got used to it so quickly and had so much fun that the engine over- heated and shut down. (He laughs) The association between Formula 1 and the Porti- mão Circuit is a hot topic right now. Is it a good as- sociation? Naturally, every circuit would like to have Formu- la 1 in their events calendar. I’m sure that any Formula 1 driver would like to be on the start line at Portimão, since the course boasts a very good layout, with many passes running through mountains and valleys. How important is it to have F1 back in Portugal? The Portuguese are massive motorsport fans and it’d be amazing for the most prestigious class in motorsport to come to the Algarve. In Portugal, we’ve never forgotten that our country was the place where Ayrton Senna won his first Grand Prix (editor’s note: 1985 in Estoril). It would be of great benefit to young karting drivers to get a bit closer to their dream, in their own country. A son of Portugal He had one of his first experiences of GT sport in Portimão, today he’s probably Portugal’s most fa- mous racing driver: Filipe Albuquerque. The former Audi factory driver and DTM driver is currently racing in the European Le Mans Series and the FIA World Endurance Championship. He already won second place twice in the still ongoing season of 2017, once at the 12 hours of Sebring and the other time at the 24 hours of Daytona. At 32 years old, Filipe is the youngest of three brothers. He disco- vered his passion for motorsport when he was eight years old, simply through his father taking him along to the karting track every now and then. Having had a successful karting career, Filipe switch- ed to Formula racing, where he was immediately recruited by the Red Bull Junior Team, a global project for supporting young rising stars with Formula 1 as an aim. Winning various rookie titles and championships meant that, by 2006, the Por- tuguese driver had already made a name for himself in the world of motorsport. In fact, Filipe was named the “Best Portuguese Driver” by a sports magazine, as well as being chosen as best driver out of the 18 in the Red Bull Junior Team. Then, just one year later, the 22-year-old received the call of the most prestigious class in motorsport. This included taking part in the first Formula 1 tests for Scuderia Toro Rosso, among other things. “The Portuguese are massive motorsport fans and it’d be amazing for the most prestigious class in motorsport to come to the Algarve.” »Die Portugiesen sind große Motorsport-Fans und es wäre großartig, wenn die Königsklasse des Motorsports an die Algarve kommen würde.« name · Name: Filipe Albuquerque born · geboren: 13/06/1985 in Coimbra height · Größe: 1.74 m weight · Gewicht: 65 kg hobbies · Hobbies: tennis/Tennis, cycling/Radfahren, skiing/Ski, wakeboarding/Wakeboard Filipe Albuquerque is known as a successful racer around the world. Portugal is the place the 32-year-old calls home. Filipe Albuquerque ist ein weltweit bekannter und erfolgreicher Rennfahrer. Zu Hause ist der 32-Jährige in Portugal.