Hamilton recovers to win record-breaking race in Portugal
By Mat Coch
Monday 26th October, 2020 - 2:36am
Lewis Hamilton recovered from a sluggish opening lap to claim victory in the Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix, a record-breaking performance which moved him clear of Michael Schumacher’s tally of 91 grands prix wins.
Hamilton headed Valtteri Bottas in the sister Mercedes to the flag with Max Verstappen surviving early contact to complete the podium places.
“They said it was going to rain straight after the race but it we got some spitting just at the start,” Hamilton explained.
“I had a good start and then going into Turn 7 had a huge oversteer moment and you didn’t now what was next, so I really backed off massively.
“Arguably I should have probably tried to defend from Valtteri but I was like ‘I’ll come back later on’. Fortunately that’s what I was able to do.
“It’s an incredibly physical sport, but I had a cramp in my right calf, so I had to lift,” he added.
“I was lifting quite often down the straight because it was about to pull.
“Pretty painful but I had to some how get through it because it is what it is you can’t lift the whole lap.”
Hamilton started well while alongside him a slow getaway from Bottas saw him drop to third before drawing alongside Verstappen into Turn 2.
The Dutchman was forced wide and lost the spot, only to then made contact with Sergio Perez at Turn 4, spinning the Racing Point driver.
Half a lap later, Bottas was through to the lead as Hamilton struggled for grip, Carlos Sainz also finding a way through on the pole sitter before the end of the opening lap.
Verstappen had fallen to fifth in the opening melee and soon found himself embroiled in a three-way scrap with Lando Norris and Kimi Raikkonen – the Finn having claimed 10 places from the start.
Sainz’s early charge continued with the Spaniard seizing the lead from Bottas midway around the second lap.
By Lap 3, Hamilton had generated the tyre temperature and began shadowing his team-mate as they trailed the race leader by 1.5 seconds.
At the back end of the top 10, Daniel Ricciardo had moved up to seventh in the opening exchanges while Charles Leclerc fell to eighth.
Verstappen took fourth from Norris into the first corner as they started Lap 5, the Red Bull driver pulling out of the slipstream to take the inside line.
A lap later, Bottas rounded Sainz on the front straight to reclaim the lead, the soft-shod McLaren driver falling into the clutches of those on mediums.
Hamilton was also soon through and Verstappen not long after began challenging for third, taking the spot as they plunged into the first corner on Lap 8.
An overpowered DRS zone made for easy overtaking down the front straight, Leclerc using it to climb back to fourth and Pierre Gasly to seventh after a dozen tours of the Portimao circuit.
The challenge posed by Verstappen to the Mercedes duo out front was blunted when his soft compound tyres began to give up, the Dutchman dropping more than four seconds away from Hamilton in third.
On Lap 13, Ricciardo slipped behind Lance Stroll as the Racing Point driver used DRS to ease by on the front straight.
The gap from second to third blew out to more than nine seconds on Lap 14, with Leclerc a further five seconds back in fourth as the front of the race began to stretch.
Ricciardo pitted on Lap 15, fitting a fresh set of medium tyres to his Renault as he rejoined in 19th.
Contact on Lap 18 between Stroll and Norris saw the Racing Point driver pitched into a half spin at the opening corner, leaving the Canadian with a damaged front wing and heavily flat spotted tyres.
Norris had moved to the inside to defend the line, Stroll using the kerbing on corner entry in an effort to sweep around the outside of the McLaren driver who refused to relent.
Both were forced into the pits, Norris able to rejoin while shortly afterwards while stewards confirmed a five-second penalty for Stroll’s part in the clash.
A change for the lead saw Hamilton take charge on Lap 20, using DRS to breeze by Bottas down the front straight.
The championship leader hit home the advantage with a new fastest lap, quickly moving clear of DRS range.
Verstappen pitted on Lap 24 from third place, taking a set of medium compound tyres as he rejoined in sixth place.
Sebastian Vettel stopped on Lap 28, the first runner to have a set of hard compound tyres bolted on to the Ferrari.
That stop came as light rain began to fall, though not heavy enough for teams to consider anything but slick tyres.
Stroll’s day got worse when he was handed a further second five-second penalty after he exceeded track limits at Turn 1, increasing his pit stop hold time to 10 seconds when coupled with his earlier penalty.
Raikkonen and Sainz ran wheel to wheel on Lap 33, rounding the opening turn side by side, staying that way through to Turn 4.
Sainz then got the advantage at Turn 5, only for Raikkonen to cut back underneath on corner exit to reclaim the place.
Their squabble was finally resolved at the end of the lap as Sainz used DRS to cruise by the Alfa Romeo and claim 10th place just as race leader Hamilton came up to lap the pair.
Perez and Esteban Ocon had a similar duel over fifth place, the Racing Point driver finally gaining the upper hand at Turn 8.
Pitting from third, Leclerc lost a spot to Verstappen after he stopped for a set of hard tyres on Lap 35.
After a 41 lap opening stint, Mercedes hauled Hamilton into the pits from the lead for his first and only stop.
The Englishman had a set of hard compound tyres, dropping just one spot behind his yet-to-stop team-mate.
A lap later Bottas was in, having a set of hards fitted despite suggesting a switch to soft rubber could offer him a chance in the closing stages.
It was tight as he rejoined, George Russell and Daniil Kvyat heading into the first corner as the Mercedes fed out of pit exit and into the apex of the 240 km/h corner.
The former race leader then had a poor out lap, struggling for grip such that the lapped Kvyat was able to out drag him exiting Turn 5.
That saw the gap between he and Hamilton extend to 12.7 seconds with Verstappen more than eight seconds in arrears.
Gasly rounded Ricciardo for seventh place on the run into the first corner on Lap 46, diving to the inside and taking the racing line off the Australian.
Sainz was next to mug the Renault, blasting by to take eighth as they started Lap 48.
Ocon was the last runner to stop, finally taking service on Lap 54 from fifth place.
With just a dozen laps to run, he had a set of soft compound tyres fitted as he rejoined in eighth place ahead of team-mate Ricciardo.
In the closing stages, Hamilton reported cramp from the cockpit of the Mercedes, though he held a comfortable 18s advantage over Bottas.
A feisty Perez defended fifth place from Gasly as the AlphaTauri driver used DRS to attack the Racing Point driver into the opening corner on Lap 64.
The Mexican moved sharply across the road as Gasly closed in, the pair narrowly avoiding contact as Perez maintained the position.
A lap later Gasly went around the outside to take the place as Perez fell into the clutches of Sainz, who stole the position as they started the final lap.
In the lead, Hamilton completed his 92nd Formula 1 race win, crossing the line more than 25 seconds clear of Bottas in second.
Third went to Verstappen from Leclerc, Gasly, Sainz, Perez, Ocon, Ricciardo, and Vettel rounding out the top 10.
Stroll was the only retirement from the race, Racing Point parking the Canadian after an incident filled race.
Result: Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||66||+34.508s|
|5||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||65||+1 lap|
|6||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||65||+1 lap|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||65||+1 lap|
|8||31||Esteban Ocon||Renault||65||+1 lap|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||65||+1 lap|
|10||5||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||65||+1 lap|
|11||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||65||+1 lap|
|12||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda||65||+1 lap|
|13||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||65||+1 lap|
|14||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||65||+1 lap|
|15||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||65||+1 lap|
|16||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||65||+1 lap|
|17||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||65||+1 lap|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||64||+2 laps|
|19||26||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri Honda||64||+2 laps|
|NC||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||51||DNF|
Drivers’ championship standings
Constructors’ championship standings
|2||Red Bull Racing Honda||226|
|3||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||126|
|8||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||5|