Tanque You: Remembering the Original (no #) F1 Portuguese GP


It’s like that, innit. Just when we thought the Portuguese GP would never ever return to the F1 calendar – here it is and for the second year in a row! This time, entertaining local wild life at Portimão and possibly a couple of circuit cats? My catzilla cat would love to have made it to the paddock to scratch Pirelli rubber, he loves to do that. Can he get a VIP pass, please? And one for me as well, as his cat translator.

catzilla wants to scratch!

That said, today we look back at the original Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril and its sort of lost Curva do Tanque insane uphill turn towards the end of the lap, replaced a couple of decades ago with that funky s-chicane or call it whatever you want, I don’t mind, any terminology is good terminology to me.

To give you an idea of what I’m on about here, go ahead and follow this link to watch a dude in a Kia tackling the fearsome Curva do Tanque in the modern era. In a Kia! Can’t complain though because there’s serious lack of material re-Tanque on the internet. You can also google 1989 Portuguese GP and you’ll likely to get a shaky pirate footage of Gerhard Berger taking on the old Estoril in his noisy V12 Ferrari, full race onboard. NB: we do not condone video piracy in any shape, form, or size. The golden rule of copyright must be respected. Back to F1, I would imagine if a current hybrid F1 sailboat on wheels were to have a mother and father of all offs at Tanque, it would’ve (effed off and) ended up somewhere on the adjacent golf course of Penha Longa! Balls.

I fancy that period of Formula 1 and not because of nostalgia, some say everything was better in the past. That’s not how I see it, we can’t unlearn digital in 2021. It’s the more direct approach to existence before the internet that’s playing on my mind. I mean what idiot would bother with life online? Take a look at the silly as a square wheel headlines before the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Social media blackout from our newfound rich do-gooders. Social media shouldn’t even be a thing. It’s wrong on so many different levels. It’s mass marketing taken beyond what’s acceptable. Horses for courses, we don’t disciminate in reality. If Insta if your thang, you’re free to twang.

Me, I want something romantic, like dirty mechanics in shorts throwing cigarette butts inside the fuel tank as a goof (don’t attempt at home, professional writer, closed virtual environment), I want health and safety fails, I want drivers who do their talking on the track or sneaking illegal items inside their cockpit (we’re family entertainment, I’d rather not mention the type of this ‘illegal item’, I simply come up with these things for reasons beyond my conscious understanding), not with Adrian Newey’s cars of the period – would’ve been too tight even for lil’ Yuki T. Ignore the cigarette bit, I wasn’t serious. It’s all in good spirit nonetheless, nothing negative.

It’s time for me to leave you with my Curva do Tanque photo gallery below but before we do so, lemme spray you with yet more information you need to know about it. I reckon the kerbing (which appears in the photos) is still original from the 1980s, albeit repainted, can’t be 100% sure, it’s only my feeling. This part of the circuit had been effectively shut down for at least 15 years before being homologated again for selected events, you can’t have, y’know, bikes racing there, it’s way too dangerous! I wish they’d kept the original kerbs everywhere around the track and the original pit entry/outdated by today’s standards cosy pits. I’m ok with a safer re-profiled pit exit. You can’t beat the old Martian spaceship control tower in terms of overall charm and just that magical feeling that we’re about to go racing and it’s gonna be so far out.

If you’re a motorsports geek like myself, you should freak out over the idea of Senna or Prost casually going around Curva do Tanque in THOSE CARS, burning some fuel off, slowing it down by just taking the momentum round. Or think Caffi ‘the Footwork Destroyer’ in the barriers at the same corner (correct me if I’m wrong, 1990) after colliding with Aguri Suzuki. Marshals running over to it. What a connection there: Super Aguri fielding the heavily modified 2002 Arrows A23 in 2006! Boom!

It’s a shame V8-powered F1 cars never raced at Portimão, AIA having been limited to occasional 2008-2009 official test sessions and some private ones over the years. It’s a new chapter for F1 in Portugal, the Algare circuit given carte blanche to write its own stories, iconography and mythology into Formula 1 history books. The run-off areas are generous, no one can cross the white like line, we’ve invented hashtags and likes. I find it funny that my favourite bit of the Algarve International is actually… the main straight with its rising and dropping profile. It’s as close as they can get to the thrills and spills of this monster of a turn called Curva do Tanque.

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