Why F1’s Portugal leveller isn’t a reliable silver bullet

A track surface that was reluctant to yield grip left many drivers complaining in Portimao, but created mixed strategies and havoc at the start. Yet, while an enjoyable means of mixing the pack, F1 cannot always rely on it

It was good to see Formula 1 visiting another new circuit in this coronavirus-affected season, especially because Portimao threw up an interesting problem that had even the best of teams scratching their heads. Of course, this being Portugal and past the traditional holiday season, there is always a risk from the vagaries of the weather coming from the Atlantic sea. And, while the threat of rain kept the teams occupied throughout the race, after a few drops at the start brought to mind the 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, this wasn’t the major issue at hand.

Rather, it was the freshly-resurfaced track and the lack of grip it delivered. Having only been laid one month before the grand prix, the surface of the asphalt was still oozing oils, and the addition of heavy rain in the few days leading up to first practice only compounded the problem.

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