Portuguese GP to be held on May 2 at Portimao; no fans will attend Azerbaijan

F1 Portimao Azerbaijan
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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PORTIMAO, Portugal — The Portuguese Grand Prix will be held May 2 at Portimao, according to Formula One officials who also announced Friday that the Azerbaijan F1 race won’t have a crowd.

No fans will be allowed at the Azerbaijan Formula One Grand Prix on June 6 because of ongoing concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It remains uncertain whether fans will be allowed at the Portimao Circuit amid the pandemic, but F1 said it is working with the promoter and the Portuguese government to find a solution.

“We hope to welcome fans to Portimao again this season in a safe way,” F1 president Stefano Domenicali said in a statement.

F1 had said in February that it hoped Portugal could fill the vacant slot on the record 23-race calendar.

Last year, the Portimao Circuit in the southern Algarve region played host to an F1 race for the first time in 25 years. There were 27,000 fans in attendance to see Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton make F1 history with his 92nd victory. He went on the clinch a seventh F1 title to equal Michael Schuamcher’s record.

The F1 season starts on March 28 at the Bahrain GP, where fans will be allowed if they have been vaccinated or if they can prove they have recovered from it, organizers said Thursday.

The Baku City Circuit which organizes the race said the decision not to allow fans “comes after extensive deliberation” with the Azerbaijan government, F1 and motorsport’s governing body, the FIA.

“Every opportunity has been explored to find a way to stage the race weekend in 2021 in a safe and responsible manner that would allow the return of fans to the fastest street circuit in F1,” the BCC said in a statement.

“However, while the global situation and pandemic response is continuing to improve, it has become clear that the 2021 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix race weekend has arrived too soon for BCC to safely host the event with fans present.”

The race, which is held on a windy street circuit through the city, was one of several canceled last year because of the pandemic.

Fans who bought tickets can use them next year at no extra cost, or apply for a refund.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III