The International Autodrome of the Algarve (AIA) will host the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix between October 23 and 25. The return of the biggest motor racing event to our country is a result of the Covid-19 pandemic having opened the door to the use of new circuits in the second half of the season and demonstrates, once again, that we have the infrastructure required to stage these major sporting events. Which leads to another issue: how about a Formula One team? Would it be possible for Portugal to enter a team? Two Portuguese have proven that it is.
AN ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
João Correia, who has lived in England for more than a decade, is fully familiar with the reality of motor sport. He has worked as a team manager, in charge of aerodynamic development – an area in which he gained a PhD – and as a Formula 1 mechanic. With the experience accrued in several international teams under his belt, the engineer joined forces with his friend Rui Pinto in what would be the beginning of an entrepreneurial and innovative adventure: creating the first Portuguese Formula 1 team.
They devised a plan to attract national investment, developed the project and began knocking on the door of potential stakeholders. The contacts they made in the first phase, the aim of which was to raise around 25% of the amount required, were successful and the “feedback was very positive, everyone [the companies] wanted to contribute”, he tells Energiser.
The return of the Formula One World Championship to Portugal is an opportunity to place “the country in the global limelight and to disclose the best we have to offer”, is the belief of this aeronautical engineer, who has been in love with motor sport for years.
Based on these assumptions he decided to go ahead with the project and together with Rui Pinto (who took over the management of the more commercial side of the venture), they set about founding Correia Racing in 2017. But he also wanted to prove that “everyone can achieve their dreams with a little hard work”.
The recent change in the regulations on new teams joining the Formula 1 championship have slowed down the project. “In addition to the budget for the execution of the project, we now need an additional 200 million [dollars] to pay the organisation”, explains João Correia. Nevertheless, the ambition remains and the two friends have not given up on the idea. “We have all the technological capacity in Portugal to go ahead with a project of this kind”, he concludes.
GALP IN THE RACE
Galp has been a partner of the International Autodrome of the Algarve since the very beginning. The partnership agreement with Parkalgar dates back to 2008, the year in which the company began supplying fuel and lubricants to the service station, gas to the tourist and sports complexes, in addition to bitumen for the construction of the race circuits.
The partnership has been reinforced since then, and at a time when there is so much talk of energy transition and investment in solar energy, it should be pointed out that the investment of Parkalgar and Galp in a photovoltaic plant composed of five hundred and four 200 W solar panels dates back to 2011. The plant is an integral part of an energy efficiency project designed to meet the needs of the AIA, involving energy audits, rationalisation measures, a solar thermal plant for water heating – and the aforementioned photovoltaic plant for the production of electricity - as well as a number of electric vehicle charging points.