A brilliantly managed race from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton saw him take his second win of the 2021 season at the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Briton finishing ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, as Hamilton’s pole-sitting teammate Valtteri Bottas came home third.
With Hamilton starting second on the grid, an early Safety Car after Kimi Raikkonen had crashed into his Alfa Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi saw the seven-time champion drop to third behind Verstappen at the Lap 7 Safety Car restart.
But Hamilton then fought back brilliantly, passing Verstappen back for P2 four laps later before claiming the lead with an incisive pass on Bottas into Turn 1 on Lap 20 of 66 – eventually coming home for his 97th F1 victory, and extending his lead at the head of the drivers’ championship.
Like Hamilton, Verstappen maintained his record of finishing all three races of 2021 so far in either P1 or P2 – but had to be satisfied with the latter result, the Dutchman able to pull away from Bottas in the latter stages of the race after the Finn suffered a sensor issue on his power unit but have been unable to do much about Hamilton at the front.
Meanwhile, after late stops for both Bottas and Verstappen to try and claim the fastest lap bonus point, it was ultimately Bottas who got the job done after Verstappen had a faster lap deleted for a track limits infringement.
Sergio Perez still 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 has now finished in the top five at every race this season so far.
Norris in the fifth led the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in the sixth, while the Alpine pairing of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso completed the team’s fine weekend with P7 and P8 – Alonso, in particular, having driven brilliantly in the race’s latter stages.
After starting a “grim” P16, McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo fought back to P9 at the chequered flag, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly taking 10th after a late pass on Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
At the front though, the story of 2021’s fascinating Red Bull vs Mercedes battle had another chapter added to it at Portimao – with the wind now in the sails of the Silver Arrows.
2021 Formula 1 Portuguese GP Race Results
|1.||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||1:34:31.421||25|
|2.||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||+29.148s||18|
|3.||77||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+33.530s||16|
|4.||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||+39.735s||12|
|5.||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Racing||+51.369s||10|
|6.||16||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari||+55.781s||8|
|7.||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine F1 Team||+63.749s||6|
|8.||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine F1 Team||+64.808s||4|
|9.||3||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Racing||+75.369s||2|
|10.||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+76.463s||1|
|11.||55||Carlos Sainz||Scuderia Ferrari||+78.955s||0|
|12.||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Orlen||+1 lap||0|
|13.||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin F1 Team||+ 1 lap||0|
|14.||18||Lance Stroll||Astin Martin F1 Team||+1 lap||0|
|15.||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+ 1 lap||0|
|16.||63||George Russell||Williams Racing||+1 lap||0|
|17.||47||Mick Schumacher||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||+2 laps||0|
|18.||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Racing||+ 2 laps||0|
|19.||9||Nikita Mazepin||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||+ 2 laps||0|
|20.||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Orlen||DNF||0|
Mario Islola, Head of Formula 1 at Pirelli commented:
The warmer weather led to increased wear on the softer compounds compared to previous days, which meant that drivers had to manage their tyres more. This additionally shifted the emphasis towards the hard compound, also because of track evolution providing a bit more grip than before.
All three tyres stood out for different reasons. The hard tyre was key here this afternoon in these conditions, which is why it was used by most drivers for the final stint, including Lewis Hamilton, who drove a perfect race. The soft, although used least in the race – and mainly for short opening stints as expected – was also run for nearly 40 laps by Lance Stroll, while Sergio Perez completed a mammoth stint on the mediums for the bulk of the race as part of an unusual yet effective strategy.