The Algarve circuit was the 73rd different track to feature on the Formula calendar but it was also the scene of the Lewis Hamilton’s chance to break the all-time win record of 91 wins. The track also represented a challenge in that it was resurfaced a month ago and had limited grip for the three hardest compounds Pirelli make.
It was this lack of grip that played perfectly into the hands of Lewis Hamilton who, apart from becoming one of the greatest in F1 history, has become an artist in tire management with these high-degradation tires. It is a key weapon that he adds to his superior Mercedes package to dominate the grid and he did so again to break the record of 91 wins on Sunday in Portimão.
The race may not have had multiple passing zones but the Algarve circuit acquitted itself very well by offering several names I would choose as drive of the race. Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen trailed Hamilton home to complete the podium but the action in the midfield was a terrific battleground for the teams fighting for best-of-the-rest.
A big win for Lewis Hamilton on a personal level by breaking the record with 92 wins (70 of those with Mercedes) and re-writing the history books. His race started in a dodgy manner with drizzle at the start and ceding two positions but he kept his cool, re-grouped and then set about moving to the lead and never looking back. The first name on my list of “Drive of the Race”.
A win for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who finished in 4th place in a car that has worked hard to disappoint him all season long. The qualifying performance was my pick on Saturday but his race was equally wonderful and a real boost for the team by endorsing the upgrades they’ve brought. The second name on my “drive of the race” list.
A win for Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly who finished 5th and gave the team another fantastic haul of points. In fact, Pierre has given the team the most points of any other driver and he is the guy who I believe Red Bull should give another chance to by moving him back into the seat currently occupied by Alex Albon. He is also the third name on my list as “Drive of the race”.
A Win for Carlos Sainz who finished in 6th and this was critical for McLaren and their battle against Racing Point in the constructor’s championship. The race started in terrific form for both McLaren’s and Carlos even led the race briefly thanks to his Soft compounds at the start but he struggled with graining quite a bit (more than some teams) and still managed to beat the Racing Point of Perez.
A Win for Sergio Perez who had an incident at the start and engaged a recovery drive and tire management to limit the damage in the Constructor’s championship since Lance failed miserably. His 7th place finish just behind Sainz staved off a huge points haul for McLaren and leaves the two teams with just two points between them in the championship. With Racing point at 126 to McLaren’s 124, Sergio’s performance helped the team keep the lead. Especially with Lance’s failure and Lando Norris out fo the points.
A win for George Russell who took the grid’s door stop and managed to get it up into 14th ahead of much faster cars. The rumors of his possible boot at Williams seemed to put a fire in his belly and this was a result that shows this young man deserves a better car and a place in F1 even if Williams is searching for drivers with big wallets.
A Win for Esteban Ocon’s 53-lap stint which was quite impressive. Regardless, you do have to hand it to them as their strategy overcame the tire issues and gave the team a dual-points finish that has them just six points away from third in the constructor’s championship and with Racing Point’s Stroll and McLaren’s Norris out of the points, this was good result.
A fail for Lance Stroll who had a ham-fisted weekend eventually retiring from the race. His lack of points puts Racing Point in serious jeopardy of losing third in the constructor’s championship and Sergio’s recovery drive was the only thing that held the papaya orange team off this weekend.
Despite Leclerc’s terrific performance, Sebastian Vettel’s was a recovery drive to 10th but still left Ferrari on the outside of the constructor’s battle for third. With 93 points to Renault’s 120, McLaren’s 124 and Racing Points 126, surely Sebastian could help in getting the red team up to third and given Leclerc’s results, the pace is in the car but Sebastian isn’t extrapolating that performance in to results.
A fail for Red Bull’s Alex Albon who has been put on notice but team boss Christian Horner. His 12th place didn’t go very far in answering that notice.
Not sure what happened to Haas F1 with both drivers at the back of the grid but it is odd that neither could manage to make a race of it with the Alfa Romeo’s.
A WTH moment for Lance Stroll who looked out to lunch all weekend. While team boss Otmar was quick to say he’s just rusty after missing the last race, I have to think that if you are rusty this far into the season despite missing the last race, you may not be doing it right. It is an odd performance as he had been doing quite well of late.
A WTH with the drain covers as I would thin that the concrete channeling that holds the metal covers might be something they would check prior to F1 cars hovering them up.
I agree with Martin Brundle, the DRS zone was too long/strong.
Pirelli Key Moments:
- Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is now the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time, having taken his 92nd career win with a one-stop medium-hard strategy: predicted as the fastest tactic, despite a relative lack of pre-race running.
- All three Pirelli compounds performed well despite the big challenges of the weather and the track, with a particularly impressive performance from the P Zero Yellow medium. Renault’s Esteban Ocon racked up 53 laps on it while Hamilton completed 45 laps (40 in race plus 5 in Q2) on this compound, with excellent consistency.
- His team mate Valtteri Bottas, who finished second, ran an identical strategy, stopping one lap later.
- Behind them, there was plenty of variation in strategy: with four different strategies in the top 10.
- Most drivers stopped once but there were five two-stoppers – three of them using all three compounds – including Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, who finished seventh despite having to stop on lap one following some contact.
- The weather remained quite cool for most of the day, with track temperatures in the region of 25 degrees centigrade and a few drops of rain just after the race start, as well as towards the end of the grand prix.
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||34.508s|
|5||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri/Honda||1 Lap|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren/Renault||1 Lap|
|7||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Renault||1 Lap|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||1 Lap|
|10||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1 Lap|
|11||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|12||Alexander Albon||Red Bull/Honda||1 Lap|
|13||Lando Norris||McLaren/Renault||1 Lap|
|14||George Russell||Williams/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|15||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|17||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||Williams/Mercedes||2 Laps|
|19||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri/Honda||2 Laps|
|–||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||Accident damage|