Lewis Hamilton got the job done on the track in Portugal with some spectacular overhauls to extend his championship lead and send an ominous message to title rival Max Verstappen. There were also exciting matches elsewhere, with some leaving Portimao happier than others. We have selected six winners and six losers from Sunday’s race …
Winner: Lewis Hamilton
There’s a twinkle in Lewis Hamilton’s eyes these days because he knows he’s in a proper title fight. And he enjoys every minute, not least in Portugal, as he had to pass both title rival Max Verstappen and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to win his second victory in three races.
It was his 97th Grand Prix victory that extended his record and among one of his most crazy. After being bullied and beaten by Verstappen for the lead in Imola, he struck back as his own bullish pass, reminding his young rival that he has no intention of giving up the top spot.
READ MORE: How clever racing boat and brilliant deck management allowed Hamilton to snatch victory in Portugal
He now leads Verstappen by eight points in the championship, having scored for the 150th time for Mercedes. Incredibly, he has only failed to bring points to the Silver Arrows home nine times since joining the team in 2013.
Loser: Kimi Raikkonen
Oh Kimi. The Finn had made an impressive start, climbing two places and running behind Alfa Romeo team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi, as he briefly looked down at the steering wheel to change some contacts, and when he looked up, it was too late to avoid contact with the Italian. .
Raikkonen – who owned up to his mistake – broke his front wing, which then gets stuck under the car and sent him slipping into the gravel and out of the race. Fortunately, Giovinazzi escaped unharmed and was able to continue with a strong race to end just outside the points.
There is potential in this Alfa Romeo, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi just need to find a way to extract it.
READ MORE: ALfa Romeo loses appeal over Raikkonen Imola penalty
2021 Portuguese Grand Prix: Räikkönen’s front wing explodes
Winners: Neutral fans
This is shaped to become a mighty title fight where Hamilton strikes back to win and Verstappen delivers injury limitation in the second half.
Given that we have driven on three different tracks, and each has seen Mercedes and Red Bull locked together in pace, this bodes well for a title race that may well go the distance, especially as both will soon shift full attention to 2022 and thus not develops this year’s cars.
READ MORE: Hamilton explains why he jumped at the restart of Safety Car – and how he fought back to win in Portimao
Even better, we have two drivers giving us proper battle for victory. Sure, Hamilton had it a little easier here when he first got in the lead, but Verstappen was not far away and should have gotten a point for the fastest lap without crossing the track. It only serves to motivate him further in Spain.
Loser: Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen never looked good on Portimao’s slippery surface this year, the Dutchman lamented the conditions all weekend.
Nevertheless, he would have been on pole if he had not exceeded the course limits and he was penalized for the same reason on Sunday for losing the fastest lap, so he still had an impressive pace. He just could not control it – and it allowed Hamilton to stretch his championship lead from one point to eight.
Second is not what Verstappen wanted as he looks to build a title challenge, but he should take to heart the fact that this is his best ever start to the season with a win and two second places.
READ MORE: Red Bull running pace ‘not good enough’ to challenge Mercedes in Portimao, says Verstappen
Winner: Lando Norris
Lando Norris stays grounded and will tell you that he is not being carried by his form as it has only been three races out of 23. But there is no denying that the way he has started this season is extraordinary.
He finishes the top five in each of the first three races of the season – this run is four, if you include the season ending the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – and has scored points in eight straight races.
The McLaren driver retains his grip on the third drivers’ championship, five points ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, and his consistency has ensured that McLaren flies high in the same position in the constructors’ position.
READ MORE: ‘It was a lot of fun’ – Lando Norris swims at McLaren’s pace after third straight top 5 finish
Loser: Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas drove high after snapping pole position, which was his first since the Sakhir Grand Prix last year and also tied him with Sir Jackie Stewart on 17 career poles, now only one behind Finn Finn Kimi Raikkonen.
But when we spoke at the end of the race, he was lost in explaining why he could not generate the same speed and tire performance as teammate Lewis Hamilton.
As a result, he could do nothing about Hamilton and Verstappen passing him, leaving him third at the flag. When Verstappen’s lap was deleted, he inherited the point for the fastest lap – but he is already tracking his teammate with 37 points.
2021 Portuguese Grand Prix: Hamilton overtakes Bottas to race
Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon played Alpine’s strong pace down on Friday, but that speed was real as they carried it through to the race, where Ocon crossed the line seventh to beat his double world champion teammate for the third straight race.
Alonso recovered from a frustrating qualifier to score his best result since the 2018 Grand Prix in Singapore (although of course he has spent the last two years driving away from F1) with P8.
READ MORE: Alonso says ‘anger’ stemming from poor qualification inspired him to reach second place for Alpine
The double points end, their second in a row, vaulted Alpine up to fifth place in the constructors behind Ferrari in what is set to be a very closely contested midfield scrap again.
Taber: Carlos Sainz
There were many inside the paddock who felt that Carlos Sainz was a strong outside bet on the podium after a stellar Saturday put him P5 on the net when he first outscored teammate Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari.
But despite rising early to fourth, he struggled to get the mid-sized tire to work in his second period and gradually fell down the field, eventually finishing outside the points as Leclerc took a strong sixth. Sainz is now 14 points behind his teammate.
READ MORE: ‘We got it wrong with strategy’ says Sainz as he misses points from P5 online
Winner: Mick Schumacher
Seventeen is Mick Schumacher’s worst result of the year, so it may seem strange to find his name in this column. But his performance was significant.
Not only did he finish more than a minute ahead of his Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin, but he had the pace to fight Williams on pure performance by pushing Nicholas Latifi to a mistake and then passing to position.
It’s just a pass – admittedly for a poor position – but it’s moments like this that make people – including his bosses from the Ferrari Driver Academy – notice it.
Tabere: Aston Martin
Aston Martin’s pace in one round looked a little better over the weekend, with Sebastian Vettel making the top 10 in qualifying for the first time in 15 races.
But he fell like a rock in the race and was eventually passed by teammate Lance Stroll, who started seven places behind as the green cars lacked bite Sunday to fight for points.
READ MORE: Vettel says Aston Martin ‘just didn’t have the pace’ in Portimao as appearance in Q3 will be unrewarded
That leaves the Silverstone-based team down in the seventh in the constructors’ championship at five points, nearly 50 – equivalent to two wins in the race – behind McLaren in third.
Winner: Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez feels there is so much more to come from him as he struggles to get on top of a very difficult Red Bull RB16B, so the fact that he was still able to take fourth, the minimum his team expects of him, is impressive in what is only his third race with them.
It was his best result since joining the team, and he also enjoyed a period leading the race as he made a monstrous stretch on the mid-deck work so he could finish the race on softs.
SE: Hamilton’s confusion is high and clear as he overtakes Perez
Right now, everything is going in the right direction for the Mexican.
There was a real sense of hope in Williams after George Russell qualified for a strong 11th, just 0.06 sec. Operation of the team’s first 3rd quarter since the Italian Grand Prix in 2018.
But the wind picked up on Sunday – and that made the FW43B invincible for both Russell and teammate Nicholas Latifi, if the latter had already struggled to find the right setup all weekend.
As a result, they fell out of contention when Russell and Latifi finished the race one and two laps, respectively. It was a disappointing end to the weekend for the team still on the hunt for their first points since 2019.