F1: Hamilton Dominates Record Breaking Portuguese Grand Prix

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Hamilton's victory on F1's return to Portugal marked an historic day in the sports history. Image sourced from @MercedesAMGF1 via Twitter.

Hamilton Storms To Victory In Algarve.

The Unthinkable

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton’s put on a performance for the ages in Portimão, securing a record-shattering 92nd career victory, officially breaking Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 wins.

A feat not many thought would be beaten.

“I owe this to the [Mercedes team] here and those back at the factory. It’s been such a privilege to work with them,” said Hamilton.

“I could only of ever dreamed of where I am today. It’s gonna take some time to sink in. I can’t find the words at the moment.”

Chaotic Opening

Valtteri Bottas in the sister Mercedes looked poised for victory as he took the lead from McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. in the opening laps.

Sainz had used his soft tyre to his advantage at the start, passing the Mercedes duo as they struggled on their medium compound.

Once his tyres rose to optimal temperature, Bottas led from Hamilton for the opening quarter of the grand prix but was unable to keep the Brit behind, being passed on lap twenty.

The Finn would ultimately finish over 25+ seconds behind Hamilton in second place, clueless as to why his pace deteriorated.

Bottas: “I was really pleased to take the lead at the start, but I’m not sure why after that I didn’t really have the pace.”

“I was hoping to extend my first stint and switch to soft tyres at the end, but I don’t think it would have made a difference.”

A Tale Of Two Bulls

Max Verstappen brought his Red Bull home in third position.

The Dutchman rounded out the podium places despite a collision with Racing Points’ Sergio Pérez on lap one which saw the Mexican dropped down to last.

Verstappen continued on virtually unscathed but never had the pace to challenge the Mercedes thereafter.

The stewards decided that no investigation was necessary for the incident.

Verstappen: “He just didn’t leave enough space, so he [Pérez] basically took himself out.”

“Overall I’m happy with third and I think it’s where we expected to be. We can be happy with another podium.”

Max Verstappen crossing the line in Portimão, securing Red Bull’s tenth podium of the season. Image sourced from @RedBullRacing via Twitter.

Contrastingly to Verstappen’s success, team-mate Alexander Albon underperformed in Portimão, finishing outside the points in twelfth position despite starting sixth.

Albon was also lapped by Verstappen.

A result which may seal his fate with the Milton Keynes based outfit who gave the Thai an ultimatum to perform or else they would look elsewhere.

With the likes of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Pérez being linked with the constructor recently.

“It was a tough race,” said Albon.

“Hopefully we can learn from today’s race and this weekend as a whole and make sure we put in a good performance in Imola.”

Portimão Prowess

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc upkept his prowess from qualifying, retaining his grid position of fourth and was the only driver outside the top three to finish on the lead lap.

“Today was extremely positive, very good for the confidence of the whole team,” said the Monégasque.

“It’s been a few races where we were good in quali but less in the race. The team has done a great job. The upgrades that we brought to the last four races have made a difference and we have had a strong race today.”

In fifth came Frances’ Pierre Gasly who once more rung the neck of his AlphaTauri as he continues to stake his claim for a 2021 Red Bull seat.

“It almost tastes like a small victory to finish behind the top three teams, said Gasly.

“I’m really pleased with this result, especially after all the work the guys in the garage have done on Friday night [referring to a chassis change after a fire in practice] to rebuild a completely new car for me.”

Pierre dedicated his result to his mechanics who worked tirelessly to repair his AlphaTauri after an electrical fire. Image sourced from @AlphaTauriF1 via Twitter.

“They put in a lot of effort and I’m really happy to give them this fifth place today.”

Behind Gasly came early race leader Carlos Sainz Jr. who brought his McLaren home in sixth.

The Mexican Maestro

As Sergio Perez recovered from his opening lap escapade to finish in seventh place. The Mexican was fifth until the latter stages of the race when he was passed by both Gasly & Sainz respectively.

However, it was Checo’s captivating battle with ex team-mate Esteban Ocon in the Renault which won the hearts of fans.

Subsequently being awarded driver of the day post-race following his inspiring resurgence as his future in Formula One hangs in the balance.

The Renault pair of Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo crossed the line in the eighth & ninth places individually.

Ricciardo: “Eighth and ninth for the team isn’t a bad result so I think we’ll take that from this weekend.”

Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul on the team’s performance in Portugal,

“We came away from Germany with a great buzz after Daniel’s podium, it is therefore very disappointing to see that the car has struggled massively for grip all the way through the weekend.”

“The team has managed to improve from a very poor start on Friday and eighth and ninth today is probably the best result we were realistically going to get starting from tenth and eleventh.”

Daniel Ricciardo has been the lead Renault pilot for the majority of the season but Ocon turned the tables in Portugal. Image sourced from @RenaultF1Team via Twitter.

Meanwhile, Ricciardo’s former Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top ten in his Ferrari.

Vettel who occupied the fifteenth grid slot used his medium tyre to full effect in the opening stint, allowing the German to claim his first points since Mugello in September.

“I struggled a lot. This year the car is very complicated,” said the four-time world champion.”

“We can’t be happy with tenth. It’s a complicated situation, I’m trying everything I can, and despite working hard, we are not finding a solution.”

Déjà Vu

Lance Stroll was the sole retiree of the grand prix, with the Canadian boxing late on due to damage sustained in a clash with McLaren’s Lando Norris at turn one.

A crash which mirrored his tangle with Max Verstappen in practice on Friday.

Stroll was handed a five-second penalty for the collision as well as another five-second penalty for exceeding track limits prior to his retirement.

Norris who ran fourth at one point would go on to finish in thirteenth place after a slow puncture from the contact forced him into an unscheduled pit-stop.

The young McLaren driver vented his frustrations post-race saying,

“I was easily halfway alongside and he just turns in so he obviously didn’t learn from Friday [referencing Stroll’s crash with Max Verstappen in FP2] but he obviously doesn’t seem to learn from anything he does.”

“It happens a lot with him so I just need to make sure I stay away next time.”

A beneficiary of the clash was Williams’ George Russell who came home in fourteenth on merit, seconds off the points despite their being only one non-finisher.

As concerns over his future at Williams consume the paddock, it was the perfect statement performance from Russell in Portugal.

“It was a good race, the car felt great and the pace was strong. I had some massive moments behind Ocon when I was trying to overtake him, and another behind Giovinazzi later in the race.”

“It is a shame that every time we have a good result there is not a chaotic race in front of us, and today again there was only one retirement.”

Race Highlights

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