Hamilton eases to Portuguese GP victory from Verstappen and Bottas

Lewis Hamilton again proved the class of the field, winning the Portuguese Grand Prix in commanding fashion from early title rival Max Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Victory for the seven-time world champion marked his 97th in Formula One and second of the season. And after an intriguing early battle with his Red Bull foe, he emerged a dominant winner, taking the chequered flag a full 30 seconds ahead of Verstappen, Bottas, Sergio Perez and the excellent Lando Norris.

Charles Leclerc was an encouraging sixth for Ferrari, the Monegasque finishing ahead of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso as Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten.

“I tell you that was such a tough race,” said Hamilton after stepping from the car. “Physically and mentally just keeping everything together. It was very windy out there, obviously, so it was very easy to put a foot wrong and I didn’t get quite as good a start as Valtteri and then lost out on the restart, which was not good and not happy abut that naturally.”

It looked to be a clean enough start, Bottas leading Hamilton and Verstappen away into the first corner as Sainz got the early jump on Perez. Behind them, Ocon was able to pass Norris before the McLaren man gained back his position with a great move around the outside of Turn 11.

Then it was the most experienced man in the field who was at fault for bringing about a first Safety Car, Raikkonen running into the back of teammate Antonio Giovinazzi and losing is front wing in the process.

Upon resumption it was Verstappen who caught Hamilton napping, surging past the Englishman into Turn 1 before the Mercedes driver regained position towards the end of Turn 14. Next on Hamilton’s radar was Bottas, the reigning champion wasting no time in breezing past his next target on lap 21, his tyres seeming to be working much better than his teammate’s.

“I really had to try and position myself the best I could. I can’t remember but I think Max made a mistake at some point through the lap which was perfect, and I knew that was going to be the lap that I was going to be as close as I could in the last sector,” added Hamilton. “Then with Valtteri I had to make a move early on before the tyres were destroyed and just managed to get him into Turn 1 but great race.”

With under half the race distance already gone, it already seemed to be Hamilton’s race to lose given his margin of victory being a massive 25.592s over Bottas last season. Verstappen was the first of the big hitters to pit on lap 36, quickly followed by Bottas and Hamilton, Perez inheriting the lead but yet to pit.

The one stop strategies for the leaders having played out, it was now Hamilton’s to lose and he was never under serious pressure again, both Verstappen and Bottas pitting once more for soft rubber in order to gain an extra point for setting a fastest lap time.

It was Bottas who achieved that goal after the Dutchman’s effort was deleted for excluding track limits. But the day belonged to Hamilton, who now enjoys an eight point advantage at the top of the table.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.