Portuguese and Spanish Grands Prix PreviewsApril 27, 2021
A preview of the season's first double-header, with the return to the Algarve for the Portuguese Grand Prix, followed by the familiar Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, for the Spanish Grand Prix the next weekend.
Uralkali Haas F1 Team’s 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship campaign will continue with back-to-back events in Portugal and Spain.
Formula 1 returned to Portugal in 2020, ending a 24-year absence, as the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, more commonly known as Portimao, made its debut on the calendar. Portimao’s inclusion received widespread approval from fans and competitors alike, with Formula 1 drivers comparing the circuit to a rollercoaster, on account of its flowing layout and series of undulating sections.
When the provisional 2021 calendar was unveiled there was a blank space – and it was consequently filled by Portimao, which stays on for another season. But in a change from 2020 it moves from fall to spring as the third round of the campaign, with the event occurring on Portugal’s Dia do Trabalhador – the Labor Day weekend.
Uralkali Haas F1 Team will then head across the Iberian Peninsula for the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is this year celebrating its 30th anniversary, having opened its doors in 1991, as part of the city’s Olympics-focused revitalization. Located to the north of Barcelona the circuit is familiar to the Formula 1 paddock through its longevity on the calendar and its presence as a regular testing venue.
The circuit features a combination of low, medium and high-speed corners while for 2021 there has been a minor tweak to the layout for the first time since 2007, with the Turn 10 complex having been reprofiled. For the 2021 season the Spanish Grand Prix returns to its traditional May date, having been shifted to mid-August in 2020, due to the pandemic.
It was at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya that Uralkali Haas F1 Team made its on-track debut during pre-season running back in 2016, since when it has gone on to surpass 100 grands prix, the first start-up operation to do so in almost 20 years. It has previously been a profitable place for Uralkali Haas F1 Team, with four top 10 finishes, peaking with a standout sixth in 2018.
For Uralkali Haas F1 Team rookies Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher the learning process will continue, as they continue their assimilation in Formula 1, following prior events in Bahrain and Italy.
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
Reflecting on the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the pre-race rain meant your rookie drivers would face a wet start to the race – in just their second ever Formula 1 start. Did the team change its objective based off the conditions and do you see it as a positive that both Nikita and Mick have now experienced wet race conditions?
“No, we didn’t change the objectives. We just got the rain and had to deal with it and learn from it. The drivers are drinking from a water hose at the moment, every grand prix is bringing something new up. For learning it’s ideal, just learning things like the processes and how to behave in these situations. Once you’ve done these things once, the second time – for sure, it brings a lot less stress I would say. Do you want it all at the beginning – maybe not, but if it comes, you take the experience. I think it’s a good thing all these new experiences.”
The issue of track-limits was again present throughout much of the race weekend at Imola. How involved are you as a team principal with all the relevant parties on such matters?
“I’m not directly involved but obviously I’ve got my opinion about it. For me, with the track limits, if there’s a safety issue – I’m for it, otherwise I wouldn’t be too concerned about it. Then again, the race director needs to have control over it because with a driver, if you give them a millimeter, they’ll take a centimeter. It’s in the hands of the race director to make the rules. If the teams and the drivers think it’s wrong, for sure we will let him know.”
Formula 1 announced that the Miami Grand Prix will be on the calendar from 2022. As an American-owned team, how welcome is the news that a second race will be on the schedule in the United States and in particular, what do you feel Miami lends to the calendar?
“I think to have a second race in the United States is fantastic for the sport in general. I know that the viewership in the States is increasing, which is good for Formula 1 and obviously for us too being the only American team as well. So, there is no negative to this. Miami is a great place to have a race – it’s a great city. For me personally, its one race with no jet lag, so that helps as well as I live on the east coast. I’m really looking forward to Miami as it’s always exciting there.”
Next up we have back-to-back race weekends in Portugal and Spain. In your opinion, what’s a successful outcome from the two events for both the team and your drivers?
“Nothing different from the first two races – get as much experience as possible, get both drivers to the finish in both races, keep learning and increase their race knowledge in Formula 1. The target has not changed, we just keep our heads down and learn as much as possible.”