F1: Hamilton Extends Title Lead with Win in Portimao

The 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix saw Lewis Hamilton claim his 97th Grand Prix win in Formula 1. Image Courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team via Twitter.

Lewis Hamilton claimed his 97th Grand Prix Victory in Portimao, ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

After qualifying, there were concerns over tyre temperatures and several drivers suffered performance issues.

Bottas started on Pole, with Hamilton alongside him on the front row. Row two was locked out by Red Bull, with Verstappen ahead of Sergio Perez.

Carlos Sainz Jr. was fifth for Ferrari and Esteban Ocon and impressive sixth for Alpine. Lando Norris was seventh, with the trio of Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel in the top ten.

Early Advantage to Bottas as Raikkonen Error Brings Out Safety Car

When the race got underway, Bottas maintain his advantage ahead of Hamilton and Verstappen into Turn 1.

Running the softer tyres, Sainz got the jump on Perez to claim fourth place, while Norris hassled Ocon for sixth.

The duo fought for the majority of the opening lap, with the McLaren driver making the decisive move around the outside of Turn 11.

Shortly after, the Safety Car was deployed after debris from Kimi Raikkonen’s front wing spread across the pit straight.

At the end of the opening lap, Raikkonen pulled out from behind Alfa Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi, but clipped his rear wheel.

Consequently, the former world champion’s front wing instantly broke and forced him to retire.

“Unfortunately, it was my mistake,” Raikkonen reflected post-race. “I got it wrong and drove into Antonio.”

He added: “The front wing got stuck under the car and I could only go straight into the gravel. The only upside was that Antonio did not get any damage.”

Verstappen and Hamilton Duel for Second

On Lap 7, the green flag resumed the racing with Bottas leaving it late to get going.

As a result, this backed up Hamilton into Verstappen who had better momentum and executed a pass around the outside to take second.

Norris continued his bright start, passing Perez into Turn 5 for fourth position, while Sainz undid his hard work and dropped to sixth.

As the field started to settle down, Verstappen set about going after Bottas’s lead, but couldn’t get close enough to attempt an overtake.

Before he could conjure something together, Hamilton came out of nowhere to reclaim second into Turn 1.

Unimpressed by the ease of the maneuver, Verstappen stated that he was a sitting duck of the team radio.

Hamilton makes his Move for First

As the laps passed by, Hamilton started to close up on his Mercedes teammate, helped in part by the crosswind running along the pit straight.

On Lap 20, the reigning champion utilized the slipstream as the pair approached Turn 1. Bottas went defensive but was helpless and Hamilton swept around for the lead.

Two laps later, Sainz was first of the front-runners to pit, taking on the medium compound tyres.

Norris was next to pit for mediums, and came out ahead of the Ferrari driver in tenth place.

Several midfield runners also opted for fresh tyres, which elevated Norris and Sainz up the order.

By the time Leclerc pitted for hard tyres on Lap 28, Norris had moved up to eighth place.

Meanwhile, in the battle for second Verstappen struggled to challenge Bottas, as he reported issues with selecting third gear.

As the Dutchman searched for a solution, Hamilton started to getaway. The Brit set the fastest lap of 1:21.934 as he pulled a four second gap to Bottas.

Verstappen Capitalises on Bottas Mistake

At the end of Lap 35, Red Bull attempted the undercut called Verstappen to pit, how locked up on pit entry.

After taking on hard tyres, Mercedes responded instantly and pitted Bottas, who initially rejoined ahead.

However, on colder tyres, Bottas ran wide at Turn 3 and left the door open for Verstappen to pounce.

As the pair made their way to Turn 5, Verstappen got the job done as he launched his Red Bull to the inside for second place.

Possessing a comfortable gap in hand, Hamilton also made his stop for hard tyres. Subsequently, he dropped to second and handed the lead over to Perez who had yet to stop.

With 15 laps remaining, Hamilton eventually caught up to Perez and passed him for the lead at Turn 1.

This was followed by Perez making his stop for soft tyres and rejoined in a lonely fourth place.

Hamilton Victorious in Portimao as Bottas Takes Fastest Lap

In the latter stages, both Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas made late stops for soft tyres in an attempt to get a point for the fastest lap.

That battle saw Verstappen come out on top with a 1:19.849, pipping Bottas by just 0.016 seconds. However, his lap time was deleted for a track limit violation at Turn 14, which handed the extra point to Bottas.

But it was Lewis Hamilton who claimed top honours for Mercedes, marking his 97th Grand Prix victory.

Sergio Perez extended stint on the mediums helped him finish in a respectable fourth for Red Bull.

Lando Norris took fifth for McLaren, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc four seconds behind in sixth.

Esteban Ocon held off Alpine teammate Fernando Alonso for seventh, while Daniel Ricciardo overcame a difficult qualifying to claim ninth.

A late overtake on Carlos Sainz Jr. saw Pierre Gasly round up the top ten for AlphaTauri.

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix – Provisional Classification

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 Laps

2 Max Verstappen Red Bull +29.148

3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +33.350

4 Sergio Perez Red Bull +39.735

5 Lando Norris McLaren +51.369

6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +55.781

7 Esteban Ocon Alpine +1:03.749

8 Fernando Alonso Alpine +1:04.808

9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1:15.369

10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1:16.463

11 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari +1:18.955

12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo +1 Lap

13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1 Lap

14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1 Lap

15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1 Lap

16 George Russell Williams +1 Lap

17 Mick Schumacher Haas +2 Laps

18 Nicholas Latifi Williams +2 Laps

19 Nikita Mazepin Haas +2 Laps

NC Kimi Raikkonen Front Wing Damage

Fastest Lap: Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:19.865