It's not often a new track arrives in F1 and is universally adored, but that is what has happened since it made its debut on the calendar in 2020 and arrived on F1 2021 in September.
With flowing corners that lay ribboned out across rolling hills it is a stunning circuit that tests drivers with blind crests, tricky braking zones, and the need to carry momentum at all times.
It's inclusion on the F1 Esports calendar took many by surprise, but the drivers have been hard at work learning the circuit and are keen to go racing.
15 corners and two DRS zones don't sound like much of a challenge, but Portimao's elevation changes and tricky mid-to-high speed corners will test even the best during Event 3 of this F1 Esports season.
With track limits at turns 1, 4, and 11 waiting to invalidate qualifying laps and the exit of turn 8 perhaps the hardest on the game there is no moment of rest at Portimao.
"I feel like racing is definitely possible there." Said Alfa Romeo driver Thijmen Schutte. "Especially with the long straight."
That long back straight is a flatout blast from the exit of turn 14 and has a huge DRS zone to take advantage of. However, without a big stop at the end of it, there is no guarantee of an overtake.
Portimao is a wide circuit, and with several switchback sections, there is a lot of wheel-to-wheel opportunities throughout the lap for the daring and the bold.
"The track is fun to drive. I'm enjoying it." Said Schutte, which was a sentiment echoed by the rest of the drivers we spoke with.
"It's very exciting to drive on a new track for sure." Said Alpine's Nicolas Longuet. "In order to prepare for that, we've had to really explore everything."
One tricky point for drivers will be ERS management. With so many sweeping corners, the boost from the battery is key to putting in quick
"The ERS management is going to be really important," Said Williams' Alvaro Carreton, "Especially for the race because the battery drains really quickly. You cannot afford to attack many times."
"Everyone's in the same position" Said two-time Champion Brendon Leigh, "but I think we're ready for the challenge ahead."
What to expect from Portimao
With a 35% race there will only be a 1-stop strategy, but we could see a very powerful alternate strategy, with those starting on the medium tyre flying through the field at the end of the race.
We don't expect overtaking to be impossible, but it also won't be easy. The second DRS zone will likely be a godsend for alternate runners though, as they will have a better exit from turn 3, be able to carry more speed through the awkward turn 4, and then get alongside into the turn 5 hairpin.
As ever, qualifying will be extremely important and very close. Drivers haven't been pouring all their time into the new circuit as there are two other races to tackle this week as well, instead there will have been plenty of grinding when the track released in September.
Event 3 of the F1 Esports Pro Championships kicks off on 24-25 November and is available to watch via official Formula 1 channels on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch. For full information about the Pro Championship visit: https://www.f1esports.com/
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