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The Formula One Circus Returns To Portugal

With the 2020 Formula One calendar undergoing severe change and disruption, several additional venues have been required for the show to continue and one of those means a revival of the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Not since 1996 has the Formula One circus touched down in this Iberian nation and although Estoril was previously granted the hosting rights, it is the relatively new racetrack at Portimao which will be the next port of call.

Hot on the heels of the recent Eifel Grand Prix, Portimão will be an interesting proposition for the 10 Formula One teams and with it arguably being a circuit which is better suited to either MotoGP or World Superbikes, it could potentially throw up an interesting result or two.

If that is to be the case, it may just derail Lewis Hamilton’s title tilt for 2020, then again with a 69-point advantage over teammate Valtteri Bottas, the Brit can arguably afford a couple of second places between now and the end of the season.

Then again, Hamilton does seem to be the champion in waiting for this year and should this prophecy become fulfilled, it will mean a seventh World Driver’s Championship for the Stevenage born driver.

The obvious aim for Hamilton will be victory at the first Portuguese Grand Prix in 24 years and should that be the case, the Mercedes driver will also aid the German manufacturer’s pursuit of the Constructors championship.

With the 35-year-old being the clear favourite to not only win in Portugal but also the championship at the end of the year, the smart money will be on the former McLaren driver and if you are looking to place a bet, these sites always have action for these races.

If Hamilton and Mercedes can show their dominance in Portimão, it will mean more misery for Red Bull and with engine supplier Honda also pulling out of the sport in 2021, it leaves the energy drink backed team with something of a headache.

A headache that comes with there only being three remaining engine suppliers within the discipline and with a Mercedes tie-up looking highly unlikely, the list of potential partners have already diminished by one third.

Mercedes already have customer teams for 2021, as they are set to supply the engines for McLaren and Williams and although there is nothing stopping them from adding Red Bull to that list in 2022, the last thing they want to do is strengthen their nearest rival.

Which is the same dilemma facing Red Bull and a Ferrari partnership and although they have been former bedfellows, the previous Prancing Horse engines were placed within the confines of the Toro Rosso chassis instead.

A deal with Red Bull’s ‘b-team’ is one thing, but a tie-up with the main outfit is another and this is why it is highly unlikely that the Christian Horner led outfit will be powered by Ferrari engines in 2022.

This means at the current state of play, it is only Renault who are left in the picture and it was the legendary French manufacturer who powered Red Bull to their four championships between 2010 and 2013.

However, this successful sporting marriage would eventually turn sour and with no love lost between the two camps, it is going to have to take some counselling to repair what was once a fruitful relationship.

With Renault not forthcoming with an engine deal just yet, it may need the FIA to step up in and pull rank and if a supplier for Red Bull cannot be found, the manufacturer with the least customers will be ordered to cut a deal.

Which as things stand is Renault themselves and as always money talks in situations such as these, so although another option is Red Bull leaving the sport altogether, many expect them still be on the grid in 2022.

Of course, there is always scope for thinking outside of the box, and with the Austrian outfit now being one of the more established teams in the paddock, there is no reason why they could not plan to create their own engine.

If they were to cosy up to a technical partner such as Cosworth, they could mimic the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes by being a complete team. However, with any new engine, there would be undoubted teething problems, and this may end up being a pipe dream.

While another pipe dream would be the arrival of Porsche or Audi to the scene and although an eventual inclusion has been suggested, it may not be until 2025 and this would be far too late for a team that is in a desperate need for a new engine partner.






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