Monday, October 26, 2020

Portuguese Grand Prix Hosts Record-Breaking Win For Lewis Hamilton

Photo Credit: Sam Bloxham/LAT Imagesé Pirelli

At the last round of the 2020 Formula 1 season, Lewis Hamilton performed a magnificent feat with his victory at the Eifel Grand Prix. On the historic Nurburgring race track, the British driver equalled the impressive all-time win record of legendary German driver Michael Schumacher with 91 grand prix victories. With no signs of losing momentum behind the wheel of the well-tuned machine out of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team stables, it has been assumed Hamilton would soon capture the career statistic for himself. This season’s 12th round at the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal presented the first occasion for Hamilton to set a new milestone.

Located in town of Portimao, a 4.653-kilometer race course invited Formula 1 back to the republic where the Portuguese Grand Prix had not run since 1996. The 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix assembled on a relatively new competition course with a series of features found in classic grand prix circuits. Capturing the pole on a time set on medium compound tires, Lewis Hamilton was in ideal striking position for his record-breaking 92nd Formula 1 victory ahead of the 66-lap Sunday feature race. 

In a Formula 1 season that has been marked by some incredibly surreal starts, the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix is perhaps one of the most bizarre. The opening lap at the Algarve International Circuit occurred just as the track was dampened by a light rain causing some uneasiness among the top grid starters including the Mercedes-AMG race cars. Though the two Mercedes drivers led through the first several corners, both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas struggling to gain grip during the early stint of the grand prix. 

Despite there not being a major crash on the opening lap, there was contact between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez exiting turn four resulting in the #11 Racing Point being sent into a spin. Perez fell to the back of the running order but continued after returning to the pits for new soft compound tires. In fact, the Mexican Racing Point driver would ultimately recover to have a great finish in Portugal.

The before-mentioned grip issues for the Mercedes-AMG contenders appeared at the middle of the first lap. Out of turn 7, Valtteri Bottas was able to sweep passed Lewis Hamilton’s #44 car but was himself challenged by the unlikely might of Carlos Sainz Jr. driving his Renault-powered McLaren at the start of the second lap. Both the McLarens of Sainz and Lando Norris had fantastic starts on soft compound tires positioned in second and fourth respectively on lap two. However, on the fifth corner, Sainz’s #55 car achieved a unique pleasure of passing a Mercedes-AMG W11 EQ Performance race car under a competitive, on-track move. Carlos Sainz Jr.’s lead in the Portuguese Grand Prix lasted until the sixth lap when Bottas retook the top spot as the medium tires came to an optimum temperature.

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images/Pirelli

On Lap 18, a turn one altercation occurred as the #18 Racing Point RP20 race car of Lance Stroll and Lando Norris’s #4 McLaren made contact. The collision occurred after several laps as Stroll attempted to pass Norris with the Canadian rapidly faster on Portimao Circuit’s front stretch. Fighting in seventh and eighth place spots, the Racing Point had rapidly closed up on the McLaren into the first corner. Travelling faster in a straight line thanks to DRS, Stroll shot to the right of Norris but was not completely clear of the McLaren as he turned in crowding his competitor resulting in a side impact where both vehicles suffered damage and needed to pit at the end of the lap. With the collision under investigation, Formula 1 stewards were led to the conclusion that Stroll was at fault for the incident assessing the driver a five-second penalty. Lando Norris finished in 13th place while Lance Stroll would ultimately retire on lap 51 due to more extensive damage to his Racing Point being the only driver not to finish the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix. 

For what would be the winning move for the race in Portugal, the two Mercedes-AMG vehicles battled on lap 19. Losing the lead on the first lap, Lewis Hamilton had maintained within a second of Valtteri Bottas. As the teammates crossed the start/finish line for lap 20, Hamilton had used DRS to ultimately pass Bottas. Pitting once on lap 40, Hamilton pulled out a significant lead as the laps ticked away. 

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/LAT Images/Pirelli

Finishing 25.592 seconds ahead of runner-up Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton’s recovery greatly from an uneasy start on the Algarve International Circuit winning the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix. With his 92nd victory secured, Hamilton is now established as the winningest driver in Formula 1 history achieving the accomplishment after 262 races. Crediting his current Mercedes-AMG team for their constant push to give him the best cars since he joined the organization in 2013. Additionally, Lewis Hamilton commented in a post-race news release on the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team’s website saying, “No one is sitting back on the success, everyone is pushing and pushing and pushing. That’s the most incredible thing to be surrounded by: it inspires you, that collaboration, and there’s nothing quite like it.” 

Photo Credit: Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Valtteri Bottas settled into a quiet second-place finish in Portugal crossing the line more than 8.9 seconds over the Red Bull Racing car of Max Verstappen. After a refreshing moment of strength in qualifying where Scuderia Ferrari enjoyed a fourth place start obtained by Charles Leclerc, the driver from Monaco scored fourth at the end of the Portuguese Grand Prix. The second Scuderia Ferrari ran deeper in the field throughout the race but was able to salvage a 10th place finish after 66 laps.

Starting in ninth place, Pierre Gasly fought his way to another fine effort with his Honda-powered AlphaTauri taking fifth at the end of the race in Portugal. After a brief time in the lead of the Portuguese Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz Jr. crossed the Algarve International Circuit’s finish line in sixth place. Hotly competing to gain third place in the constructors’ championship, Sainz’s team McLaren is still trailing Racing Point by two points. Sergio Perez driving for Racing Point finished seventh capturing a valuable six points after what was a hard-fought race. 

Photo Credit: Sam Bloxham/LAT Images/Pirelli

Eighth and ninth place at the end of the Portuguese Grand Prix saw both of the Renault F1 Team cars gaining points. Esteban Ocon scored the higher position compared to teammate Daniel Ricciardo being the third time the Frenchman finished ahead of the Australian.

Leaving Portugal after a memorable grand prix, Formula 1 teams were now destined for a return to Italy competing on the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari generally referred to as Imola. The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will be staged under an experimental two-day schedule with the main race being staged on November 1st. 

2020 Formula 1
Portuguese Grand Prix
Race Results

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