FPAK helps to get F1 back on track in Portugal | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

FPAK helps to get F1 back on track in Portugal

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The lights will soon go out at the Autódromo Internacional Algarve to signal the start of the first Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix in 24 years. In the build up to the country’s long awaited F1 return, the Federação Portuguesa de Automobilismo e Karting (FPAK) has been on hand to assist with preparations and to take on the crucial role of providing the volunteers who will ensure safety and fairness at the pinnacle of motor sport.

“The Club’s role has been and will be to help the organiser, the AIA Motor Clube, to implement all the requests emanating from the F1 organiser,” explains FPAK President Ni Amorim. “It is a real challenge but in Portugal we are used to working under pressure and that’s exactly what we are doing. We’re pushing hard to have all the things set up on time and we’re looking forward to putting on a great event.”

The last time Formula 1 raced in Portugal was in 1996, at Estoril. That circuit, 30km to the west of Lisbon, was the home to 13 of the country’s grands prix to date, but for this latest incarnation of the race the event has moved south, to the Algarve region and the circuit at Portimão.

“We’re so glad to welcome F1 to Portimão,” adds Ni Amorim . “We have a wonderful track with all the conditions necessary for a great grand prix. We are a small country but we are working very hard to get back onto the F1 calendar. This race is therefore a dream come true, not only for the Portimão track but also for F1 fans in Portugal.”

It won’t be the first time that Formula 1 cars have run at the Autódromo Internacional Algarve, however. Within weeks of the circuit opening in 2008, McLaren and Ferrari conducted a three-day test on the new track. Then, in January 2009, a broader selection of F1 teams chose the track for pre-season testing.

The sport hasn’t returned to the Algarve since then but according to FIA Formula 1 Race Director Michael Masi, the race organisers and FPAK have done everything necessary to make sure the circuit meets F1’s exacting safety standards.

“All the works, in the images and reports I’ve received, are progressing extremely well – not just in the re-surfacing of the circuit, but also with a number of barrier upgrades and safety requirements,” he explains. “A lot of the safety installations have been upgraded all around the circuit and it has very much been a collaborative effort with the Algarve circuit management and with FPAK.”

FPAK’s role in bringing F1 back to Portugal will continue right through the grand prix weekend, with the ASN also responsible for providing and looking after the large amount of volunteer marshals and officials who will ensure the smooth and fair running of the race weekend. 

“We will only use our marshals for the race weekend and we believe we have some of the best in the world,” says FPAK President. “They normally also officiate at events abroad, so they are very experienced. I am proud of their work and I’m sure the weekend in Portimão will show their skills to great effect.”

The last time Formula 1 raced in Portugal, Williams’ Jacques Villeneuve won a thrilling battle with team-mate Damon Hill to take that year’s title decider to the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix.

Twenty-four years later Portugal once again promises to stage a hugely exciting grand prix, a race at which Lewis Hamilton could pass the benchmark of 91 wins he shares with Michael Schumacher to become F1’s most successful driver.

And if that comes to pass, then FPAK will have had a hand in making Formula 1 history.