Portuguese Grand Prix Recap: Hamilton Becomes F1’s Most Victorious Driver

Story posted October 26, 2020 in

After tying Michael Schumacher’s historic record two weeks ago, Lewis Hamilton made it his own on Sunday.

The 35-year-old Briton claimed victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix for his 92nd career win, breaking Michael Schumacher’s record of 91, which Hamilton tied two weeks ago at the Eifel Grand Prix.

The event was the first Formula One race held in Portugal since 1996 and the first ever at the Algarve International Circuit.

Hamilton started on pole position, ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. The top three in the race would finish in that order.

With the win and the fastest lap, Hamilton increased his points lead over Bottas to 77 , with Verstappen now 17 points behind Bottas in third. With five races remaining, Hamilton is closer to clinching his seventh world championship, another record he would share with Schumacher.

The race’s first lap contained several position changes. Hamilton maintained the lead through turn one while Verstappen briefly took second from Bottas. After Bottas took second back, Verstappen made contact with Racing Point driver Sergio Pérez, sending Pérez spinning and into last place. Meanwhile, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, on grippy soft-compound tires, passed Verstappen for third, then second as he passed Hamilton. Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen, also advantaged with softer tires, gained 10 positions from his 16th-place starting position to sixth.

On lap two, Sainz took the lead from Bottas, but Bottas returned the favor on lap six, as Sainz’s softer tires degraded faster than did Bottas’. Sainz would eventually finish sixth in the race after losing more spots.

Bottas then held the lead until Hamilton took it on lap 20, and he never gave it back (outside of pit laps) en route to victory.

Nineteen of the 20 drivers finished the race, the outlier being Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, who endured a rather tumultuous race. On lap 10, Stroll received the black and white flag from the race stewards, as he had committed several track limits violations that he eventually earned a five-second penalty for. On lap 19, while attempting to pass McLaren driver Lando Norris around the outside, Stroll turned in on Norris, spinning himself around and damaging both his and Norris’ front wings. Stroll received another five-second penalty for this incident, and after spending track time at the back of the field, he retired on lap 54.

Stroll was not the only driver to struggle with track limits. Haas driver Romain Grosjean also received the warning flag on lap 31 and was eventually penalized 11 laps later. AlphaTauri driver Daniil Kvyat was penalized for the same reason on lap 54, and Lando Norris received a warning of his own on lap 56.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc finished a solid weekend in fourth, behind Verstappen. Leclerc started in that position and had a quietly effective day, running in third for a portion of the race. The fourth place finish was the both the Monegasque’s and Ferrari’s best result since the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix in August, seven races ago.

Pierre Gasly also did well for his team. After starting in ninth, the AlphaTauri driver made up four spots in the race to score fifth. This included an overtake of Sergio Pérez with two laps remaining in the race, allowing the Frenchman to achieve his best result since his stunning victory in Italy on Sept. 5.

Pérez made the most of his day after his lap one incident. After pitting from last on the track, the Mexican driver fought through the field, making his way all the way back up to fifth until being passed by Gasly on the penultimate lap. He would then be passed by Sainz for sixth, but he still completed his day with a respectable seventh-place effort.

Renault drivers Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo finished in eighth and ninth respectively. These were both improvements on their starting positions, as Ocon started 11th and Ricciardo 10th. Ocon’s race was characterized largely by his strategy, as the Frenchman did not make a pit stop until lap 53, successfully overcutting and finishing ahead of Ricciardo.

Rounding out the top 10 was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, his first points finish since the Tuscan Grand Prix on Sept. 13. The four-time champion had a strong race, coming from a 15th-place starting position to give Ferrari its fourth double-points finish of the season with Leclerc’s fourth place.

 

Logan Groeneveld-Meijer is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email lsg5237@psu.edu.

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