Conclusions of the Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimao


Lewis Hamilton made history by setting a new record of 92 Formula 1 victories in the sport’s first-ever race on the Algarve International Circuit near Portimao.

Here are our conclusions from a Portuguese Grand Prix which could also have a significant influence on the roster of drivers for next year.

Hamilton the class of 92

Lewis Hamilton is an Arsenal fan rather than a Manchester United supporter, but the Class 92 tag awarded to some of the Red Devils’ top local talents now also applies to F1’s most frequent race winner – although maybe only for a week.

It was always inevitable that Michael Schumacher’s record, which Hamilton had equaled in the previous race at the Nurburgring, would soon be exceeded – although there were doubts that this would happen in Portugal soon after the extinction of the cars when Mercedes cars have struggled to adhere to medium tires.

But after Carlos Sainz had a brief moment of glory, leading in his soft-tyrant McLaren, business turned to business as usual and Hamilton passed teammate Valtteri Bottas on lap 20 of 66 to advance, now having much more pace. that the besieged Finn and comes home 25 seconds early.

It remains only for Hamilton to sprinkle the I’s and cross the T’s not only on an inevitable seventh World Championship title to equal Schumacher’s other great record – he’s 77 points ahead of Bottas – but also on his new contract with Mercedes.

It seems odd that the Briton and his team haven’t found the time to finalize a new deal – Bottas was struck months ago – but we are all assured at every turn that it is just a matter of placing the relevant pieces in the puzzle.

Unexpected things are happening in F1 – the sudden retirement of Nico Rosberg a day after becoming world champion in 2016 is one example – yet Hamilton said in a pre-race interview with Sky that he “planned to be here next year ”.

He might be making things boring up front with eight out of 12 wins this year, but the 35-year-old is simply in a class of his own and his supreme quality should be – and, hopefully, maybe – admired and appreciated for as long as possible.

The No.93 victory could well come at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola next weekend.

Horner hints at Albon’s exit

It was a case of Poor-timao for Alex Albon as he suffered another gruesome run and his Red Bull fate looks likely to be sealed in the coming weeks.

After being a staunch defender of the London-born Thai driver all season, Red Bull team manager Christian Horner admitted on Saturday that the seat was “up for grabs” for Albon and that a decision would be made soon. The visit to Portugal did nothing to help him.

It was a training that is too reminiscent of those produced by Pierre Gasly in the first half of 2019 which led to his demotion from Red Bull and the consequent promotion of Albon.

Starting off a respectable P6, Albon finished P12 and a two-stop strategy meant he found himself behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo – and also passed by his own teammate Max Verstappen.

Barring a podium as an absolute minimum requirement in Imola, it looks like Halloween could produce its own kind of horrors for Albon in terms of job prospects.

The results here won’t make a pretty read for Albon, especially since two of his contenders for his seat finished well ahead of him – including Gasly, who put in another superb performance for AlphaTauri finishing fifth…

Perez pushing his case

So if Albon is really toasting, will Red Bull keep things internal by restoring Gasly to its old place or looking outside? If the latter, Sergio Perez has done no harm to his chances.

The race could have gone much better for the Mexican without a first-lap collision with Max Verstappen when he turned his Racing Point and came back to the last. Perez managed to come back up superbly in P5 before losing a few places towards the end when he was hampered by heavily bloated tires.

Still, that was another big publicity for Perez’s talents as he continues to show why it’s kind of a parody that he’s being kicked out of Racing Point to make way for Sebastian Vettel.

Realistically, which of these two would you want in your car, let alone Lance Stroll?

Perez has said he’s set to confirm he will stay in F1, but could it be with Red Bull?

It does appear, however, that there is a difference between the timeline he talks about in terms of the announcement and Horner’s outline for the Albon decision, although Red Bull has hinted that he is aware that plumping Perez or Nico Hulkenberg could be their best. option.

But there’s also Williams, who is strongly linked to Perez as a potential George Russell replacement because of the sponsorship income he brings, allied to his tangible ability.

It would actually be a shame to see Perez jump into a less competitive car than the one he drives so well now – he has finished in the top seven in eight of his 10 races this season.

If Perez ends up at Williams, it will obviously be better than nothing. But he has shown this year that he deserves a car in which he can fight forward rather than behind the pack.

The walk has become a failure

What must be all the more irritating for Perez is the recent lack of success of teammate Lance Stroll – but we all know why his seat is under no threat.

A very promising first half of the campaign for the Canadian, which culminated with a podium at Monza, went badly – he abandoned three of the last four races and failed to start the other due to illness.

Portugal were particularly bad for Stroll. After colliding at the first corner with Max Verstappen in FP2, Stroll again deteriorated by tangling with Lando Norris in the same spot during the race and was awarded a five second penalty for both this and continuously passing the runway limits.

Eventually Stroll’s car was abandoned by Racing Point as he raced last with no hope of scoring any points.

Again, we come back to the team’s decision to pair Vettel and Stroll next year, when they are renamed Aston Martin, and release Perez.

Racing Point has certainly not been the winner of the F1 PR battle this season for a variety of reasons, and you are concerned that its 2021 driver lineup is something else that could end up backfiring.

Jon Wilde

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