On Sunday, Oct. 25, Formula 1 went to Portugal for the first time since 1996 for the Portuguese Grand Prix. Here Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton broke the all-time record of most grand prix wins with his 92nd, passing F1 Icon Michael Schumacher. Hamilton’s teammate Valteri Bottas finished in second with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen rounding out the podium.
During both practices on Friday, all of the drivers struggled to adapt to a track that none of the current drivers have ever raced on before. Every single driver had some sort of spin as the teams tried to figure out how to properly set up the car to extract the most out of qualifying and of the race. On Saturday, it was time for qualifying, which sets the order for the race. Hamilton got pole position, with Bottas in second and Verstappen in third. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc qualified in fourth, which is a surprise, given that Ferrari has been off the pace for the whole year.
Right before the race started, there were some light showers that persisted until the race began. When the lights went out on Sunday, Bottas took the lead off Hamilton at the start. However, that was short-lived when McLaren’s Carlos Sainz took the lead due to the rain making it difficult for everyone. Sainz was also on the softest tires while the Mercedes pair was on the medium tires, which are slower and have less grip.
When the rain stopped, the natural order returned with Hamilton leading in front of Bottas, Verstappen and Leclerc. From there, the race was mostly uneventful at the front. The top four ended in that order, with Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly finishing fifth from starting in ninth. Sainz finished in sixth, with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez in seventh, Renault’s Esteban Ocon in eighth, Ocon’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo in ninth and Leclerc’s teammate Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top 10 and the last of the point finishers.
With this result, Hamilton increases his lead to 77 points ahead of Bottas. In terms of the constructors’ championship, Mercedes also increased its lead over their closest rival, Red Bull, to 206, which is nearly double the number of points that Red Bull currently has. With six races left to go, it seems that both championships are already decided, but there is still an outside chance of another driver or team winning the championships. Next week, Formula 1 heads back to Italy for a special two-day race weekend with only one practice session at a track that hasn’t seen a race since 2006. This track will certainly bring excitement, and it has the makings for another great race in a very special season.