- Lewis Hamilton wins Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimao, claiming record 92nd F1 win
- Briton notches eighth win of 2020 season, extending Championship lead to 77 points
- Mercedes could now seal constructors’ title at Imola next weekend
PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL – After Lewis Hamilton became the most successful Formula 1 driver in history, what did we learn from the Portuguese Grand Prix in the Algarve?
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Hamilton ascends F1 greatness
Ninety-two F1 wins. Just say that out loud. Ninety. Two.
As Formula 1 made its return to Portugal for the first time in 24 years, the Algarve was still however, another largely dominant drive for Lewis Hamilton.
On the back of equalling Michael Schumacher‘s winning race tally at the Nurburgring a fortnight ago, Portimao was the setting for the sport’s latest record to tumble, but the biggest one yet.
Taking the chequered flag to stands filled with a relative smattering of fans, the Briton stood atop the tree of most race victories.
Celebrating with his Mercedes chief race engineer Pete Bonnington on the podium, Hamilton was acutely aware of the moment’s importance, claiming his eighth win of the season.
As another record is ticked off the 35-year-old’s personal 2020 agenda, 77 points now separate himself from teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Surely, it won’t be long now until the latest – and biggest one – is achieved, in world title number seven?
Just how good is Hamilton?
The debate over who the greatest driver in F1 history, is always going to be one of arbitration.
For some of Hamilton’s critics, the Briton has been accused of lacking a soul, or just his confident, driven persona, is often one that portrays arrogance.
As for whether he is likeable or not, surely Schumacher himself was as hated as vehemently as he was adored, such was his win-at-all-costs approach – as the likes of Damon Hill will atest?
Some still carry Ayrton Senna as the GOAT of F1, but after his untimely death, we will never know in truth, just how good the Brazilian was and could have been.
Though 92 wins have now been attained, 70 of those have been with the ever-dominant Mercedes, whilst only 22 were with McLaren.
That shouldn’t however, detract from the argument.
There are those that say Hamilton has benefited from the better car for the majority of the last four years and that may be true, but as Martin Brundle eloquently put it on SkyF1 a few weeks ago, ‘the best drivers get the best cars’.
Sunday’s win has put Hamilton within touching distance of a seventh F1 crown; perhaps we leave the discussion for just how great the Stevenage driver is, until then.
Verstappen knuckles rapped
Away from the top step of the podium’s scene of quietly muted jubilation, Max Verstappen quietly notched his ninth top-three finish of the campaign meanwhile, and his third in succession.
Privately however, the Red Bull driver appeared to have crossed the racing line.
Reportedly, the Dutchman was spoken to, in regard to his offensive language used over the team radio, following his crash with Lance Stroll in Portugal.
Verstappen repeatedly swore at the Racing Point driver over the team comms – used as part of television broadcasts – after the two collided, using offensive phrases about disabled people also.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner stated to BBC Sport he had spoken with his number one driver, but also sought to draw a line under the incident, citing his outburst as having been in the heat of competition.
“Max did not mean to cause offence.
They [the comments] were made in the heat of the moment when emotions were running high.”
Sainz continues to impress
For a few laps in the Algarve, Carlos Sainz threatened to delay the Hamilton 92 party.
Despite leading in the early shake-up, as both Hamilton and Vettel encountered problems, the Spaniard temporarily rose to the surface of the scrum, before being overhauled.
Finishing sixth on Sunday, it was further indication however, of the rapid rise of the McLaren man, soon to be the latest to don the colours of Scuderia.
With now back-to-back top-six finishes, the 26-year-old’s potential shows no bounds.
Although sitting in tenth place in the standings, just 21 points separate him and Daniel Ricciardo in fourth.
Attempting to close on the Renault man, must surely be Sainz’s goal for the remainder of the campaign.
Portuguese return fleeting?
On F1’s latest stop on the its extended European tour in this most unprecedented of seasons during the Covid-19 era, the return to Portugal was a resounding success.
This weekend in Portimao alas, could be a fleeting one for owners hoping to pin their track as a regular round on the calendar.
After seeing Mugello shine, the Nurburgring evoke rather damp memories of the Nordschleife and with Imola to come next weekend, seeing the circuit only opened 12 years ago showing off its impressive undulations, brought an added freshness to a season that has at times stalled.
But money talks and so to do deals with the sport’s bigwigs.
The fact is there are now many venues competing for a small slice of the F1 pie; and the truth is, though Portugal may not have to wait another 24 years for its next stint, it could be some time to come yet.
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix takes place at Imola, San Marino, next weekend.
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