A brilliantly managed race from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton saw him win his second victory of the 2021 season at the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Briton finished ahead of Red Bulls Max Verstappen when Hamilton’s Polish quarterback team-mate Valtteri Bottas came home third.
When Hamilton started in second place online, an early safety car after Kimi Raikkonen crashed into his Alfa Romeo team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi saw the seven-time champion fall to third behind Verstappen at the restart of the Lap 7 Safety Car.
But Hamilton then fought back brilliantly and passed Verstappen back to P2 four laps later, claiming the lead with a sharp pass on Bottas to Turn 1
Like Hamilton, Verstappen maintained his record of finishing all three races in 2021 so far in either P1 or P2 – but had to be content with the latter result, the Dutchman was able to pull away from Bottas in the final stages of the race after the Finn suffered a sensor problem on his power unit, but had been unable to do much at Hamilton in front.
Meanwhile, after late stops for both Bottas and Verstappen to try to claim the fastest lap bonus point, it was ultimately Bottas who got the job done after Verstappen deleted a faster lap for a breach of a track.
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Red Bull Racing
Red Bull Racing
Sergio Perez has yet to finish on the podium as a Red Bull driver, but at least claimed his best result of the year with P4 ahead of Lando Norris, the McLaren driver who now finishes in the top five on every race this season by far.
Norris in fifth led Ferrari by Charles Leclerc in sixth, while the alpine pairing of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso ended the team’s fine weekend with P7 and P8 – especially Alonso, who drove brilliantly during the latter stages.
After starting a “gloomy” P16, McLaren Daniel Ricciardo fought back to P9 at the checkered flag, where AlphaTauris Pierre Gasly took 10th place after a late post on Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
Up front, the story of 2021’s fascinating battle with Red Bull vs Mercedes got another chapter added to Portimao – with the wind now in the Silver Arrows’ sails.
2021 Portuguese Grand Prix: Räikkönen’s front wing explodes
AS IT HAPPENED
As the drivers lined up on a sun-drenched and soft Portimao track, all eyes were trained on the four midsize cars in front of the field, Mercedes’ policemen Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in front, with Red Bulls Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez immediately behind.
Both Mercedes moved away as the lights went out, where Bottas kept enough speed to keep P1 from Hamilton after 302 meters ran into turn 1. Verstappen was also far away from the mark to keep P3, but Perez was less healthy with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz – the highest starting soft runner – using the benefit of the red-walled connection to nab P4.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was past Alpine’s Esteban Ocon for P6 for Turn 1, with the duo trading again at Turn 5, before Norris finally claimed the position with a sweet move around the outside of the Frenchman at Turn 11.
READ MORE: Get all the reaction to Hamilton’s victory in Portimao
Bottas had already built a practical cushion over Hamilton when he crossed the line at the end of round 1. On the other hand, however, Kimi Raikkonen was about to stream his Alfa Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi to P12 down the main line as he simply ran into the back on the Italian, Raikkonen lost his front wing as he spit into the Turn 1 gravel and brought out the safety car.
2021 Portuguese Grand Prix: Watch the race start at Portimao
This crash was good news for McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, but helped him climb from P16 to P13, the biggest winner after the initial gambit.
Bottas got the race going again on the 7th lap, excellent bamboo Hamilton who seemed to be caught off guard at restart, with the fin running away as Verstappen perfectly tuned his own acceleration phase to pass Hamilton immediately around the outside of turn 1 in second place.
A mistake from Sainz to Turn 3 dropped him from fourth to P6 and allowed Perez back up to P4 – but not long after Norris attacked Turn 5 to claim the spot from the Mexican, Ocon fell to P8 as Ricciardo climbed further two positions for P11.
Hamilton claimed his revenge on Verstappen on the 11th lap, the Mercedes DRS past Red Bull on the main line, with Verstappen complaining to racing engineer GianPiero Lambiase: “We are a seated duck” – with Hamilton then quickly putting a few seconds between him himself and Red Bull.
Perez had complained about Norris’ safety car reboot card on him, saying the Briton had completed the movement outside the lane boundaries – but the case was made academic when Perez then passed McLaren for fourth on Lap 16.
When Bottas crossed the line to start round 20 of 66, Hamilton had his DRS open and came quickly to his teammate, Hamilton switching from the outside and sweeping through to claim the lead. That made the order Hamilton from Bottas and Verstappen – who lurked at hand – with Perez an additional 8s operation. Norris led the midfield in the fifth row ahead of Sainz, Leclerc, Ocon, Pierre Gasly and Ricciardo, who had passed his former Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel to the P10 in the 18th round.
SE: Raikkonen out of Portuguese GP after first-round clash with team-mate Giovinazzi
Sainz was the first driver to throw the pit on Lap 21, taking the media where McLaren covered Sainz by bringing Norris in a lap later, the pair came up on the 10th and 11th, Norris retained the advantage. Leclerc had been the outlier of the midfielders as the only one of them in the top 10 to start in the media – with Leclerc then bolting on hard tires on the 25th lap and delivering some invaluable data to those not yet to the pit front runners.
When Verstappen made no impression on Bottas as Hamilton built a 3-hole in the field head, Red Bull brought their man in to new hard tires on Lap 35, where Bottas mirrored him a shot later. Bottas was kept a second longer than Verstappen had been, though – and despite coming right in front of the Dutchman, Verstappen was more confident out of Turn 4 by using DRS to get ahead of the Finn.
Hamilton had no such dramas, while meanwhile taking the net lead back after his stop too hard on Lap 37 (albeit behind the actual leader Perez, who did not yet have the pit) 4s free of Verstappen. After climbing to P5, Ricciardo finally stopped hard on Lap 41, but missed his markings in the pitbox and was stopped for 4.8 seconds, the Australian new P10 and behind Gasly as Norris made it back to fifth, the 21-year-old begins to come under pressure from Leclerc.
2021 Portuguese Grand Prix: Verstappen passes Bottas after pit stop
Up front, however, Hamilton had it all covered and decided not to bother getting involved with the fastest chisels and instead eased across the line at the end of round 66 to win number 97 – a fact that more than compensated for not having taken pole number 100 the day before.
Behind, Verstappen had a clear run for second place, while Bottas was left behind and lamented a “difficult” run, after seeing his pole position turn towards P3 – with Toto Wolff being moved to try to boost Finn’s morale over team radio in the middle through the race. . After Imola’s travails two weeks earlier, however, the Portimao podium would at least have been something of a tonic for the Finn.
Sergio Perez never seemed to get involved in the fight up front, but at least came home P4, his best result as a Red Bull driver, but with Mercedes stretching their lead over Red Bull from seven to nine points.
Lando Norris’ status as one of the stars of the season was cut off by another excellent run for P5, where Leclerc’s attack was kept in check in the final part of the Grand Prix when Monegasque came home sixth. One of the stars during the final stages, however, was Fernando Alonso, who passed Ricciardo and Sainz in quick succession to get home P8 behind teammate Ocon – Alpine, who has had their strongest weekend so far in 2021.
Ricciardo got a solid recovery to take ninth after his own late move on Sainz, with Gasly doing the same to take the last point-paying position as Sainz could only claim 11. Giovinazzi recovered from his setback with a “cleared” Raikkonen in the second lap to take 12th ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll – the two Aston Martin drivers who have struggled for race temperature around Portimao after Vettel brilliantly delivered his first Q3 performance in 15 ran Saturday.
It was a quiet race for Yuki Tsunoda in the second AlphaTauri, the Japanese came home 15th and ahead of Williams’ George Russell, who had started a promising P11 but complained that his FW43B was “unpleasant” at points in the race when he ended 16.
A strong outing from Haas’ Mick Schumacher saw him pull a late pass on the second Williams by Nicholas Latifi to claim P17, Latifi took 18th when Mazepin rounded off the order – with Raikkonen the only pensioner from the Portuguese Grand Prix.
So it is Hamilton who stretches his lead to eight points in the title fight for Verstappen. Is the tide turning towards Mercedes? Or can Red Bull fight back in Spain? There are only seven days until F1 fans find out.
2021 Portuguese Grand Prix: Schumacher passes Latifi to P17
The key quote
“I tell you, it was such a hard race, physically and mentally just by holding it all. It was obviously blowing a lot out there so it was very easy to put one foot wrong. I just did not get as good a start as Valtteri and then lost on restart, which was not good, I was obviously not happy about that.
“I think Max made a mistake at some point through the lap, which was perfect, and I knew it would be the lap that I would be as close as possible to him in the last sector. And then with Valtteri I had to move early before the tires were destroyed. I just managed to get him to Turn 1, right at the border. Great race ”- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Hold on to your hats, because we’re driving again next weekend with Formula 1, which crosses the Iberian Peninsula on the way to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and the Spanish Grand Prix in 2021 on 7-9. May. No one except Lewis Hamilton has won on the Spanish track since 2017 – but will any of his rivals be able to knock the seven-time champion – and the current championship leader – out of his perch?