Portimao Track Guide: The Algarve rollercoaster

Portimao Track Guide: The Algarve rollercoaster

Ahead of the F1 Portuguese GP 2021, our circuit guide tells you all you need to know about Portimao.

Photo credit: Project Cars 2 / Slightly Mad Studios

“I’m moving up and down, side to side, like a rollercoaster”. That’s probably the best phrase to describe the feeling of driving at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao. With all its elevation changes, the circuit is a highlight, but also one of the biggest challenges on the F1 calendar. You can find the track in games like Project Cars 2 or the upcoming F1 2021 game. Our track guide tells you how to master the 2.9-mile Portuguese rollercoaster.

The Formula 1 layout of the Portuguese Circuit
The Formula 1 layout of the Portuguese Circuit. Photo credit: Project Cars 2 / Sentoanderivative work: Gpmat, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Turn 1 – Primeira

Turn 1 already is one hell of a tricky corner. You approach it going downhill, so be careful to not lock up your tyres. You need to practice the corner a few times in order to get the hang of it and sweep through it in sixth gear. During your practice, it is going to be extremely important for you to find and remember the perfect point of steering.

After one kilometre at full throttle, you need to find the perfect braking point for Turn 1. Photo credit: Project Cars 2.

Turn 3 – Lagos

Portimao does not give you a second to breathe. After a flat-out Turn 2, position the car as far as possible on the left-hand side to get a straight brake line into Turn 3. Most drivers tend to take a tight exit out of Lagos and not go too far towards the outside. Your goal is to quickly get into a good position for Turn 4, which is a blind uphill left-hander. Try to take it flat-out or just with a small lift. Keep in mind that oversteer can easily push you off the track if you’re not careful.

Turn 3 - Lagos
Stay on the right side of the track on the exit of Turn 3. Photo credit: Project Cars 2.

Turn 5 – Torre Vip

Torre Vip is a corner that can doom your race quickly. You approach the downhill braking zone at full speed. Don’t be too late on the brakes or you’ll either go wide and lose time or flat-spot your tyres at worst. The real circuit is very bumpy here, so if you’re playing a proper simulation with laser-scanned tracks, keep that in mind as well. Not only the entry, but also an early exit out of the corner is important as you climb upwards and go flat-out through Turn 6.

Full-speed in, full-speed out. That is Torre Vip. Photo credit: Project Cars 2.

Turn 8 – Samsung

Another tricky corner is Turn 8, which comes immediately after the quick right-hander of Turn 7. As you brake into Samsung, your steering wheel will never be straight because you’re still turning out of the previous corner. Braking here is tricky and you need to be very gentle on the pedal. But you can carry more speed that you’d expect into the corner as the track goes uphill on the exit again.

Turn 8 is very steep, just like any other elevation at Portimao. Photo credit: Project Cars 2.

Turns 10 & 11 – Portimao

We approach the most technical part of the track by going flat-out through the uphill left-hander of Turn 9. Turn 10 is just a small kink to the right, immediately followed by the much tighter Turn 11. The hardest part about this section is that the apex of Turn 10 is at the top of the hill. Therefore, you cannot really see where you have to brake.

Turn 11 is followed by another ride down the hill. Photo credit: Project Cars 2.

Instead, you have to drive based on feel and your experience with the corner. Also, the blind approach makes it very hard to get the car into the best position for Turn 11. In general, try to go as wide as possible through Turn 10 to get a good line through Turn 11. Practice and experience really are key in this section of the track. If you want to know more about racing line and how to tackle different corners perfectly, check out our dedicated OverTake tutorial.


Turns 13 & 14 – Sagres

After gaining a lot of speed in the downhill Turn 12, you need to brake down to third gear for the hairpin that is Turn 13. Once again, you’re completely blind because you go uphill. The corner is very tight on exit, so try to carry as much entry speed into it as possible.

Turn 13
Your cockpit view when arriving at Turn 13. Photo credit: Project Cars 2.

After passing Turn 13, you quickly want to position your car to the left of the track to get a good entry into Turn 14. Getting the exit of this corner, called “Sagres”, right is your key to overtakes and a good quali lap. After Sagres, you’re flat-out until Turn 1. The best way to get through the corner is to drive a wide line which allows you to get your foot on the throttle very early. However, take care not to hit the gas too early in the corner or you’ll lose the rear.

Turn 14
After Turn 14, you’re on full-throttle until Turn 1. Photo credit: Project Cars 2.

Turn 15 – Blind and fast

The last corner, Turn 15, is full speed again but also a bit tricky because the apex is at the top of a hill again. Like with most corners at Portimao, experience is the key to being successful here. A lot of corners are blind, so it’s all about getting a feel for the track and memorising your braking points.

That said, you now have all the knowledge you need for a successful race at Portimao. It’s up to you to get on track and combine it with your driving experience.

What’s your best advice for the Portuguese rollercoaster? Tweet us your opinion at @overtake_gg or leave a comment down below!

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