2020 Portuguese Grand Prix Blog
Firstly, we would like to say how great it felt to be back at a racetrack after all these months. Things weren’t exactly how they were some 11 months ago, when we were last in the Abu Dhabi Paddock Club, but we enjoyed the same exceptional levels of service as always. It has left us wanting more!
Lewis Hamilton stole the show this weekend. It was a question of when, not if, he would break Michael Schumacher’s record but to be there and watch him take his 92-race victory live was a privilege and is something that will live long in the memory.
Hamilton’s margin of victory, some 30s clear of Valtteri Bottas in 2nd place, would suggest he had an easy time of things. That is not exactly the case though. Lewis struggled to match his teammate throughout Qualifying and yet somehow pulled out a sensational lap on his final run in Q3 to take pole.
The start of the race was also anything but plain sailing for Mercedes. Both cars struggled to get their tyres up to temperature and lost places. McLaren had a dream start and Carlos Sainz was the surprise leader after two laps, with teammate Lando Norris not far behind in P4.
Where was Max Verstappen you ask? He tangled with Sergio Perez on lap 1, sending the Racing Point driver into a spin and compromising his own position. When asked about the incident Max had little sympathy for his colleague, saying: “I just tried to stay out of trouble. Of course, I had a little touch with Sergio but he didn’t give me enough space so he basically took himself out.” We should say that both cars recovered to have strong races, finishing 3rd and 7th respectively. Perez got ‘Driver of the Day’ for his comeback from last place.
Normality resumed a few laps into the race. With warm tyres the two Mercedes looked back to their formidable best. Bottas reclaimed the lead from Sainz but the Finn soon had Hamilton hot on his heels. Valtteri defended as best he could, however, with the help of DRS Lewis cruised past on lap 20 to take the lead. From that point onwards victory was never in doubt.
We have been critical of Ferrari in recent weeks but there were glimmers of light for the Scuderia at Portimao. Charles Leclerc qualified in fourth place and proved it wasn’t a fluke by taking the same position in the race. That is a huge improvement to what we have seen previously. Mattia Binotto acknowledged they still have work to do, saying: “Now we must confirm the progress seen in recent races as we go into the last part of this championship. We are still a long way back in the Constructors’ Championship but it’s possible to make up ground: this must be our target and we must do everything to achieve it.”
Red Bull also have a headache in the shape of Alex Albon. There perhaps isn’t a nicer driver on the grid, but kindness doesn’t get you points and a twelfth-place finish simply isn’t good enough. To rub salt in the wound Albon was lapped by his teammate Verstappen. Christian Horner was succinct in his analysis: “Finishing twelfth was unfortunate for Alex and it’s disappointing for him to be outside the points.” There must be serious question marks about Albon retaining his seat though. He needs to put in a fantastic drive soon to prove he has what it takes.
The main story of the weekend though was Lewis Hamilton re-writing the record books. Many thought it could never be done and Lewis was quick to acknowledge the help from his team: “First, I owe these 92 wins to the team here and back and the factory for their tremendous work. They are continuously innovating and pushing the barrier, even higher every year. It’s been such a privilege working with them and I am so grateful for all the moments.” Many congratulations to all involved at Mercedes.
We can enjoy an F1 double header, with the Emilia Romagna GP coming up this weekend. This will be the first time Imola has featured on the calendar for 14 years, and it is a race we are very much looking forward to!