PORTUGUESE GP – Sir Lewis Hamilton takes victory in a steady drive after sweeping around Max Verstappen

Testing & Race Reports

Sir Lewis Hamilton has taken back-to-back wins at the Portuguese Grand Prix taking his ninety-seventh career win by twenty-nine second ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. The Mercedes driver got past his teammate Valtteri Bottas on lap twenty after sweeping around the outside through Primeira in the opening stages from his stay until the second pit stop.

Hamilton’s second win of the season allowed him to build a slight lead over Verstappen in the driver’s championship. After three races it two-one to Hamilton, who holds an eight-point lead over the Dutchman going to Barcelona next weekend.

Verstappen got past Bottas by closing up when the Mercedes driver re-joined following his second pit stop, the gap between the two being a second. The Dutchman appearing to get momentum as Bottas warmed his tyres up, going down to Lagos when Verstappen passed.

Hamilton meanwhile rejoined following his pit stop three seconds ahead with Verstappen dropping behind, once the seven-time champion had warmed up his tyre and rebuilt his lead at the frontThe seven-time world champion extends his lead at the top of the championship to eight, as he equals Michael Schumacher’s record for number of races convectively at the top of the championship.

The Mercedes appeared to be the faster of the two cars and Hamilton steadily built the lead over Verstappen, ahead of the second round of pit-stops. That proved key, as Hamilton managed to get through the race without needing to make a third stop taking the lead, showing more pace on the medium tyre than the two Red Bull’s and teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Sergio Perez was fourth in a race where Mercedes and Red Bull were running closely together, his best finish for the team. Bottas won the restart when Verstappen swept around the outside on lap seven, the Dutchman then made his mistake as he was put under pressure by Hamilton sliding through Sagres the world champion closed up re-passing Verstappen.

Verstappen had defended to the inside, but Hamilton squeezed alongside him there anyway over the dusty part of the track to claim the corner. Soon Hamilton had utter control of the race building his lead as Verstappen, Bottas and Perez started to spread out sealing their position.

Going to a similar circuit next weekend in Barcelona, it appears that Mercedes have the faster car in the race, but Red Bull can fight back in qualifying.

Hamilton said, “That was such a tough race, physically and mentally, keeping everything together. I didn’t quite get as good a start as Valtteri and then lost out at the restart which was not good. I had to try and reposition myself best I could, I think Max made a mistake at some point and that was perfect.”

Verstappen added “My race was pretty decent. I had a good restart and then, of course, I tried to put the pressure on Valtteri. At the end, I think we just lacked a little bit of pace but overall, Lewis got by again and once after the pit stop, the warm up is super hard on this tyres.”

Perez, meanwhile, appeared to be stronger but didn’t really have the pace to challenge the top three.

That was partly because he had slipped behind Lando Norris before the safety car where he was unable to re-join the fight at the front. But, fourth place is what Red Bull expect if they are unable to get ahead of the Mercedes. Verstappen however was a sitting duck as Mercedes pulled ahead.

It was as strategically interesting behind as McLaren and Ferrari fought for fifth, Norris continuing his strong start to the season fending off Charles Leclerc. The McLaren driver had a much stronger position starting on the medium tyres, which allowed him to go longer into the race. Leclerc proving to be a stronger challenge after the team switched positions with Carlos Sainz.

The Spaniard then started to be swamped by the Alpine’s of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly closing in during the closing laps dropping him out of the points. Alpine living up to the strong pace they have shown all weekend to join Ferrari splitting the two McLarens with Sainz finishing eleventh.

Alonso delivering a solid result in eighth, a second behind Ocon, the only team in the midfield pack to finish alongside each other.

Antonio Giovinazzi was the only Alfa Romeo to finish the race after a shunt with teammate Kimi Raikkonen on the start of the second lap. The duo collided going along the main straight causing the safety car with debris flying, after Raikkonen tagged the rear tyre of his teammate.

Sebastian Vettel finished ahead of teammate Lance Stroll for the first time, the Aston Martin duo finishing thirteenth and fourteenth. Yuki Tsunoda was fifteenth ahead of George Russell.

Russell not managing to convert his strong qualifying into points after starting eleventh, he found himself nineteenth halfway through the race before working himself back to sixteenth ahead of Mick Schumacher, Nicolas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin.

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