On October 23rd, the Formula 1 World Championship arrived in Portimao, a famous port city in the south of Portugal. The last time drivers and crews from all around the globe battled around the Autodromo Internacional de Algarve was 1996 and all eyes were on Lewis Hamilton, who was fresh from a win at the Nurburgring that equalled the mythic Micheal Schumacher.
Hamilton got off to a slow start during the Friday practices. His teammate Valterri Bottas consistently drove quicker than him that day.
It should be noted that the tire company Pirelli had brought prototype tires for the teams to test, and gave them certain programs to run during the free practice time, meaning Hamilton might have been held back by the change in equipment or simply not able to try his qualifying laps.
On Saturday morning, Bottas in the other Mercedes was still quicker than Hamilton, and was able to carry his pace in the qualifying runs as well. Bottas was fastest in both Q1 and Q2 and was on provisional Pole Position in the dying moments of Q3. In one crucial lap, Lewis Hamilton was able to steal Pole from his teammate who had been faster all weekend so far, demonstrating once again his pure class and driving abilities under pressure.
The race start on Sunday was the best we’ve seen so far this season. The track surface was new and not “rubbed in” and it made softer tires way easier to warm up. Everyone who started on said compound had a great start.
Carlos Sainz in the Mclaren went from sixth on the grid to first in 2 laps, Kimi Raikkonen gained ten places in one lap, and Verstappen looked to challenge Hamilton for the lead before colliding with Sergio Perez and lost some places.
Both the Mercedes, who started on medium tires, struggled in the early laps and dropped down to second and third, while Sainz pulled out a gap. Hamilton really struggled for grip at the beginning and got passed by teammate Bottas in the first lap.
As the race went on, mediums began to heat up and start working, while the softs quickly lost grip and became worn out. By lap 6, Hamilton had passed both Bottas and Sainz and regained his lead.
By the time the 66th lap came, Hamilton was 25 seconds clear of second place Bottas, who was running on the same car and same tire strategy as the Brit. As Hamilton cruised across the checkered flag, he beat the Formula 1 record for most races won, this being his 92nd first place finish.
With this win Hamilton has secured his sport among the greats of motorsports. He has proved that he deserves his spot at the top of his field through his determination and pure talent.