Luis Hamilton finished the track in Portugal with several spectacular overtaking to increase his lead in the championship and send an ominous message to the title contender Max Verstappen. Elsewhere, there were intriguing battles, with some leaving Portimao happier than others. We chose six winners and six losers from the competition on Sunday …
Winner: Louis Hamilton
There is a gleam in Louis Hamilton’s eyes these days because he knows he’s fighting a good title fight. And he enjoyed every minute, not least in Portugal, when he had to pass title contender Max Verstappen and Mercedes team-mate Valteri Botas to achieve his second victory in three races.
It was his 97th Grand Prix victory, extending his record, and among his toughest. After being harassed and beaten by Verstappen for the lead in Imola, he responded to his own bullish pass, reminding his young opponent that he had no intention of giving up first place.
READ MORE: How shrewd racing boats and brilliant tire handling allowed Hamilton to snatch victory in Portugal
He now leads Verstappen with eight points in the league after scoring for the 150th time for Mercedes. It’s amazing that he failed to score points for the hosts of the Silver Arrows only nine times since joining the team in 2013.
Loser: Kimi Raikkonen
About Kimi. The Finn had made an impressive start to climb two places and run behind Alfa Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi when he looked down at the steering wheel for a moment to change some switches and when he looked up it was too late to avoid contact with the Italian.
Raikkonen – who made his mistake – broke his front wing, which then crashed under the car, and sent him to slide into the gravel and exit the race. Fortunately, Giovinazzi escaped without any damage and was able to continue, having a strong race to get just outside the points.
There is potential in this Alfa Romeo, Raikkonen and Giovinaci just have to find a way to get it.
READ MORE: Alfa Romeo loses appeal over Raikkonen Imola’s penalty
2021 Portuguese Grand Prix: Raikjonen’s front wing explodes
Winners: Neutral fans
This emerged as a powerful battle for the title, with Hamilton striking back to win and Verstappen providing a limit of damage per second.
Given that we raced on three different tracks and each saw a Mercedes and a Red Bull locked together at a pace, this is good for a title race that could go the distance, especially considering that both will soon focus all their attention on 2022 and thus not developing this year’s cars.
READ MORE: Hamilton explains why he jumped when restarting Safety Car – and how he fought for victory in Portimao
Even better, we have two pilots who give us suitable battles to win. Of course, Hamilton was a little easier here after entering the lead, but Verstappen was not far away and had to get a point for the fastest lap without breaking the track. It will only serve to motivate him further in Spain.
Loser: Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen never looked comfortable on the slippery surface of Portimao this year, the Dutchman complained about the conditions all weekend.
Nevertheless, he would have been on the pole if he had not exceeded the track limits and was penalized for the same reason on Sunday for losing the fastest lap, so he still had an impressive pace. He just couldn’t control it – and that allowed Hamilton to extend his championship lead from a point to eight.
The second is not what Verstappen wanted, as he is striving to challenge the title, but he must take his heart from the fact that this is his best start to the season with one win and two second places.
READ MORE: The pace of the Red Bull race is “not good enough” to challenge Mercedes in Portimao, says Verstappen
Winner: Lando Norris
Lando Norris remains down to earth and will tell you that he is not obsessed with his form, as there have been only three races out of 23. But there is no denying the way he started this season is exceptional.
He finished in the top five in each of the first three races of the season – this run is four if you include the season ending the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – and scored points in eight races in a row.
The McLaren driver maintained his grip in third place in the drivers’ championship, five points ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, and his consistency ensured that McLaren flew high in the same position in the constructors’ standings.
READ MORE: “It was a lot of fun” – Lando Norris enjoys the pace of McLaren after finishing third in the top 5
Loser: Valteri Botas
Valteri Botas climbed high after grabbing a field position, which was his first since the Sahir Grand Prix last year, and also tied him to Sir Jackie Stewart at 17 poles in his career, now just one behind Finn Kimi Raikkonen.
But when we talked at the end of the race, he lost to explaining why he could not generate the same speed and efficiency of the tires as his teammate Louis Hamilton.
As a result, he could do nothing for Hamilton and Verstappen to overtake him, leaving him third on the flag. When Verstappen’s lap was erased, he inherited the fastest lap point – but he was 37 points behind his teammate.
Portugal Grand Prix 2021: Hamilton overtakes Botas for lead in the race
Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon played Alpine’s strong pace on Friday, but that speed was real as they carried him to the race, as Okon crossed the seventh line to beat his double teammate from the world champion for the third consecutive race.
Alonso recovered from a disappointing qualifying to achieve his best result at the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix (although, of course, he spent the last two years racing in F1) with P8.
READ MORE: Alonso says “anger” stemming from poor qualifications inspired him to finish second for Alpine
The double-point finish, their second in a row, climbed Alpine to fifth place in the constructors, behind Ferrari, which again has to be highly contested.
Loser: Carlos Sainz
There were a lot of people inside the paddock who thought Carlos Sainz was a strong outside bet on the podium after a stellar Saturday put his P5 in the grid as he first beat his teammate Charles Leclerc in Ferrari.
But although he climbed to fourth in the start, he struggled to get the middle tire to work in his second stop and gradually fell back down the field, eventually finishing off the points as Leclerc took a strong sixth. Now Sainz is 14 points behind his teammate.
READ MORE: “We made a mistake with the strategy,” says Sainz as he misses points from P5
Winner: Mick Schumacher
Seventeenth is Mick Schumacher’s worst result of the year, so it may seem strange to find his name in this column. But his performance was significant.
He not only finished more than a minute ahead of his Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin, but had the pace to fight Williams in a clean performance, pushing Nicholas Latifi into a mistake and then making a pass for position.
It’s just a shortcoming – for a low position, of course – but moments like this will make people – including its bosses at Ferrari Driver Academy – pay attention.
Losers: Aston Martin
Aston Martin’s pace looked a little better this weekend, with Sebastian Vettel making the top 10 in the standings for the first time in 15 races.
But he fell like a rock in the race, eventually passing his teammate Lance Stroll, who started seven places back as the green cars lacked the bite on Sunday to fight for points.
READ MORE: Vettel says Aston Martin “just didn’t keep pace” in Portimao as Q3’s appearance goes without a prize
That leaves the Silverstone-based team in seventh place in the five-point constructors’ championship, nearly 50 – the equivalent of two races – a retreat for McLaren in third.
Winner: Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez feels that there is a lot more to him as he struggles to get on the very complicated Red Bull RB16B, so the fact that he still managed to take fourth, the minimum that his team expects from him, is impressive in what is only his third race with them.
It was his best result since joining the team, and he also enjoyed limited running as he made a monstrous stretch of the average tire performance to allow him to finish the soft race.
WATCH: Hamilton’s confusion is strong and clear when he overtakes Perez
At the moment, everything is going in the right direction for the Mexican.
Williams had a real sense of hope after George Russell placed a strong 11th, just 0.06 seconds ahead of the first Q3 place of the team in the Italian Grand Prix in 2018.
But the wind picked up on Sunday – making the FW43B unsuitable for both Russell and teammate Nicholas Latifi, the latter of whom were already struggling to find the right setup all weekend.
As a result, they came into conflict, with Russell and Latifi finishing the race with one and two laps, respectively. It was a disappointing end to the weekend for the team, which is still looking for its first points since 2019.