By Shwetha Surendran
Boston University News Service
After two rounds of exhilarating competition at Bahrain and Imola, the Portuguese Grand Prix proved to be slow as Lewis Hamilton maneuvered his car first to the finish line.
Despite not starting on pole position, Hamilton finished first after a series of bold overtakes on fellow competitors Max Verstappen, who settled for second, and Valtteri Bottas, who was relegated to third after a sensor problem on his Mercedes.
The trio shared a podium for a record-breaking 15th time together, making them the most recurring podium partners in Formula One history. The result at the Algarve International Circuit also brings Hamilton’s total career wins to a total count of 97.
“I’m telling you, that was such a tough race, physically and mentally just keeping everything together,” Hamilton said in a post-race interview.
On a circuit that featured the most number of overtakes in a Grand Prix last season, the dips and climbs of the track produced stable race conditions this time around. The safety car was deployed only once for Kimi Räikkönen’s front wing mishap.
The Alpine F1 Team, which has been flying somewhat under the radar with several forgettable performances so far this season, seemed to have found their stride at Portugal with returning two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso. Despite being out-qualified by his teammate Esteban Ocon, Alonso quickly got up to speed in the latter stages and finished the race eighth.
His fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr. had a reversal of fortunes come Sunday’s race. After out-qualifying his Scuderia Ferrari teammate, Charles Leclerc, Sainz Jr. could not match it in race conditions in Saturday’s session. He finished just outside the points, with Leclerc crossing the line sixth.
The trend of one driver delivering and the other struggling continued in McLaren’s garages as well.
While Lando Norris continued his stellar race form this season, Daniel Ricciardo still seemed at odds with his new McLaren machinery. The Australian racer endured a horrible qualifying session and started the race 16th on the grid.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez crossed the line fourth in his best-ever finish for his new team. Despite Red Bull’s performance gains over Mercedes this season, they fall even further back in the Constructors Championship with an 18-point deficit after this Grand Prix.
This weekend was also the start of the first double-header of the season. And with it, more Formula One records are set to fall as Hamilton chases his 100th pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona on May 7.
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