Rehabilitation of Portugal’s Formula 1 race track

Wirtgen Group machines deliver high quality for high speed

The operators of the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve rehabilitated it for Formula 1’s return to Portugal. Wirtgen Group construction machines took the lead in rehabilitating the surface course of the entire race track in just six days.

Portimão | Portugal

Formula 1 has a long tradition in Portugal. In 2020, after an extended break, the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão became the third Portuguese race track to host motor sport’s premium class. The MotoGP motorcycle racing series is also based here. The carriageway had to be rehabilitated to comply with the stringent requirements of the sport’s governing body, the FIA.

The planning and monitoring of this construction project was conducted by renowned experts from Italian racetrack designers and engineering consultants Dromo, with construction completed by Portuguese contractor Tecnovia Sociedade de Empreitadas S.A. These tasks included removing the surface of the old carriageway, producing the special race track mix and then paving and compacting it.

Tolles Produkt

Precision right from the start: three Wirtgen cold milling machines removed exactly 4 cm of the existing asphalt pavement.

Race track experts ensure quality

“The existing track no longer met the asphalt standards of the MotoGP and Formula 1 racing series, so initially, we had to find a company which could deliver the necessary quality. We chose Tecnovia because both the people and the machinery they supplied were right for the job”, says Dromo’s proprietor, founder and designer, Jarno Zaffelli.

The Tecnovia team put in a lot of effort to ensure that the asphalt paving went as smoothly as possible. Three Wirtgen cold milling machines initially removed the top 4 cm of the asphalt pavement and loaded it onto trucks. Once the milled surface had been cleaned, the new surface course was paved. It consists of a precisely-defined bituminous mix with aggregates from two different quarries. Once this has been made into asphalt mix, Tecnovia used 26 trucks to move a total of approximately 7,500 t of material to the site “just in time”.

Smooth site logistics: Tecnovia used a total of 26 trucks to supply the Vögele pavers with asphalt, enabling them as far as possible to work without interruption.

New carriageway for the premium class

The Autódromo track was paved by three Vögele pavers. Working in parallel hot to hot, they allowed the entire carriageway to be paved without joints. Seven Hamm tandem rollers, most importantly several HD 110i machines, came immediately after the Vögele pavers to compact the surface. “I’m very happy with the result”, emphasizes Jarno Zaffelli from Dromo. “Together, we managed to keep to the schedule and deliver the surface quality required. The whole Tecnovia team really put a great deal of effort into this.”

“I’m very happy with the result. Together, we managed to keep to the schedule and deliver the quality required.”

Jarno Zaffelli, proprietor, founder and designer Studio Dromo

Making the best possible use of just six days on site: all three Vögele pavers had to work perfectly and collaborate in order to keep to the schedule when paving the special mix.

Special mix - perfectly prepared

Construction manager Nuno Carapuça was in charge for Tecnovia. He added: “The requirements we had to satisfy in this case have almost nothing in common with those of a normal road.” This was because the project had a great many other special features in addition to the special mix and perfectly organised site logistics. The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is a hilly site, resulting in a circuit characterised by tight bends, some of them blind, as well as by dips and summits. Downhill gradients are as much as 12 %, with uphill gradients of up to 6.2 %. A mix of tight and flowing bends is typical and is what gave the track its nickname: “the roller-coaster on the Algarve”.

Even on this terrain, the Tecnovia team and its fleet of Wirtgen Group paving machines delivered a first-class job: “We knew this would be a significant challenge for us. The fact that we eventually managed to exceed expectations is brilliant.” This success was in no way due to chance -- something borne out by the fact that it took four months to plan the six-day construction period.

“The fact that we managed to exceed expectations is brilliant.”

Nuno Carapuça, Construction Manager Tecnovia - Sociedade de Empreitadas S.A.

Perfect surface quality: seven Hamm HD-series tandem rollers ensure high-quality compaction.

Key data for Autódromo Internacional do Algarve

Length of circuit
4,684 m
Of which bends
1,488 m
(31.7 %)
Radii of bends
18 m to
160 m
Maximum downhill gradient
12 %
Number of bends
16
Of which right-hand bends
9
Of which left-hand bends
7
Maximum uphill gradient
6.2 %