Estoril Circuit Was Once One of The Top Racing Venues

September 23, 2015
Race Tracks
Alexander S

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Autodromo do Estoril, officially known as the Autodromo Fernanda Pires de Silva, is a motorsport racing circuit in Portugal built in 1972, near the Estoril beach resort, with a stand’s capacity of 45,000.

Safety was always the problem

The length of the circuit is 4.182km with 13 turns, of which two are hairpin, long start-finish straight and noticeable elevation changes. However, throughout the years Estoril, which has an FIA Grade 1 license, has had many safety problems, failing more than once to meet the safety inspections criteria. One of the track’s characteristics are the strong crosswinds. Perhaps that explains why Estoril is so popular amongst different teams as they used to go there for tests during the winter break.

Estoril Circuit

Estoril Circuit aerial view

Popular track in the 1980s and 1990s

The first years after the opening were good as Estoril was the host of many national competitions, as well of Formula 2, after which the company fell into debt and the state of Portugal decided to take over in 1978. After significant improvements and redevelopments, international racing returned to Estoril in 1984.

Estoril Circuit Formula 1 race 1984

Start of the Formula 1 race at Estoril circuit, 1984

Estoril circuit soon became a very popular Formula 1 event and hosted the Portuguese Grand Prix until 1996. Lots of memorable moments occurred at Estoril : Niki Lauda‘s third and final F1 title in 1984; Ayrton Senna‘s premier Formula One win in 1985; huge crashes like of Nigel Mansell and Senna in 1989 with or  Riccardo Patrese going airborne after colliding with Gerhard Berger on the main straight in 1992. Etoril circuit definitely has a story or two to tell.

Damon Hill still holds the fastest lap record at Estoril circuit

Estoril also hosted many other international series like FIA World Touring Car Championship, the Le Mans Series, Superleague Formula, even the special stage of WRC Rally de Portugal. It also hosts both national and international motorcycle races.

Estoril circuit map/track layout

Map: Autodromo do Estoril track layout

Interestingly, the fastest lap record was set in 1993 by Damon Hill, driving a Williams-Renault during Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix, recorded a lap time 1:14.859. By the looks of it, that record is here to stay for a while.

Video – Alfa Romeo 159 on Estoril Circuit

Future prospects

Despite the aim to host top racing events, Estoril Circuit is not in a position to afford events like Formula 1 after Portugal’s economy is on shaky ground for a while. In expectation of better times, Estoril Circuit hosts European Le Mans Series 4-hour race, European Formula Renault, International GT Open and other smaller series.

Getting there

Estoril circuit has good connections with the Portugal’s capital Lisbon and it’s international airport which is some 20 minutes drive away from the venue. There is a plenty of accommodation available at affordable prices so spending a weekend in Estoril can be a pure pleasure.

Estoril Circuit autódromo information Portugal race formula

Estoril Circuit was once an important place for many motorsport categories

Address: Av. Alfredo César Torres, 2646-901 Alcabideche, Portugal

Phone: +351 21 460 9500