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Home   /   Record-Breaking Hamilton Takes 92nd Win
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Written by Tony Robertson

Sub-edited by Riley Taylor

Lewis Hamilton overtook Michael Schumacher to become the outright top driver in Formula 1 in terms of wins, as he claimed the 92nd win of his career in Portimao at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

After pipping his teammate Valterri Bottas to pole by a tenth of second in Q3 after the Finn had been quicker than him in every practice and qualifying session, Hamilton was able to turn Mercedes 13th pole in a row into victory, by 25.592 seconds.

However, to begin with, things looked a little bleak for the six-time world champion as lap one threw up some surprising developments.

Starting on medium compound tyres, Hamilton and his teammate Bottas struggled to get up to speed and fell victim to Carlos Sainz who bolted through the pack from his starting position in P7 to find himself in the lead of a race for the first time since Monza. Lando Norris in the other McLaren also started well and found himself in P4 right behind Hamilton who looked very slow around the circuit.

This was also helped by Max Verstappen clipping Sergio Perez causing the Mexican who is currently without a seat for next year to cascade down the order and into last place. Alex Albon also started poorly, though he didn’t have the excuse of a spin to rely upon and found himself in 13th, a position which would not do his chances of retaining the seat for 2021 any good. In contrast, veteran Kimi Raikkonen pulled out the best start of the year gaining 10 positions as he went from P16 up to P6 within one lap.

Sainz held the race lead for six laps before Bottas and Hamilton overtook the Spaniard, as the genuine pace of the drivers began to settle in the grid order, with the likes of Verstappen passing Norris on the long pit straight thanks to the help of DRS.

Aussie Daniel Ricciardo was the first to pit on lap 15 switching from softs to mediums after a frustrating Saturday saw him unable to do a lap in Q3 after a spin in Q2 damaged his rear wing.

Lap 18 saw Norris and Lance Stroll duke it out as Stroll tried to overtake Norris into turn one and completed the move only to turn in on the McLaren leaving both with wing damage and needing to pit. The FIA deemed Stroll to have caused a collision and subjected him to a five-second penalty later in the race.

A lap later saw Bottas surrender the race lead to Hamilton who had now found a strong pace and was keeping his tyres well preserved while Bottas was experiencing a few issues with his.

Racing Points day went from bad to worse as Stroll picked up another five-second time-penalty, this time for exceeding track limits while Perez now found himself in ninth after pitting on lap one following his spin.

Hamilton, now clearly in his groove had extended his lead over Bottas to 7.6 seconds by lap 31 with both yet to pit. Another driver who was quietly going about their business was Charles Leclerc who was in P3 after a strong Saturday but suffered a shaky start to the race which saw him drop as low as eighth on the opening laps. With Sebastian Vettel only managing a P15 it was up to Leclerc to score well for Ferrari who looked a lot more competitive than they have in previous weekends, evidence the upgrades they have implemented have improved performance.

Lap 33 saw Raikkonen and Sainz battle it out for P10 with Raikkonen using every ounce of experience to keep the McLaren behind him, pulling out a switch move after Sainz had the inside but went wide while trying to take the position, giving the Finn better traction. Sainz ultimately completed the move down the pit straight.

Esteban Ocon and Perez engaged in an almost identical battle for P5 just one lap later, with Ocon, not being able to replicate Raikkonen by defending the position until the straight, where most of the overtakes happened.

A few drivers had gone on very long stints from the start, including the two Silver Arrows, the aforementioned Ocon and George Russell who found himself as high as P7 when he eventually did pit on lap 38 re-joining in P14 just ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi.

Mercedes finally pitted Hamilton on lap 41, moving him onto the hard tyres to allow him to see out the race. Bottas pitted a lap later and wanted to do the opposite strategy to his teammate to make up some ground, but Mercedes denied this and put him onto the hard compound as well.

Meanwhile further down the order Romain Grosjean, who like Kevin Magnussen had confirmed they would not be racing at Haas next year, received a five-second time penalty. Pierre Gasly, yet another driver going about their business quietly, once again demonstrated great pace as he overtook last week’s final podium sitter Ricciardo for P7.

Lap 54 saw Stroll pit and retire his car meaning he has now not finished a race since Monza. Ocon on the other hand had finally pit and got out just ahead of his teammate in P8 and put him well within reach of those ahead on a far fresher set of soft tyres. Further back saw two veterans of F1 battling for the final points position as Vettel got past Raikkonen on lap 55.

As the race reached its climax, Perez was determined not to lose fifth place to the cars behind him and was defending aggressively into turn one, moving to the outside to prevent Gasly taking the line and nearly causing a crash which the FIA said they would investigate after the race. Gasly eventually got the move done on lap 65 this time sticking to the racing line.

All while this was happening Carlos Sainz was in their shadows waiting to pounce and caught Perez to claim P6 in the final lap.

It was, of course, Hamilton who took the chequered flag and a record 92nd race win, with Bottas and Verstappen completing the grid making it the seventh time the trio have shared the podium.

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July 2024