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Lewis Hamilton, a six-time FORMULA 1 World Champion, collected his first-win at Portugal, his 92nd in the sport, and with that conquered history.
No other driver in the seven-decade history of the sport has recorded as many wins as Lewis Hamilton.
By winning the 66-lap contest, the Stevenage-born Mercedes driver broke the all-time record for most wins in FORMULA 1, a feat second to none in remarkable commitment and grandeur.
Not only that, one of the biggest talking points from the Portuguese GP was the fact that Lewis Hamilton broke the great Michael Schumacher’s record for most wins at the highest-annals of the sport.
Anyone who may have thought that going past 91 race wins was simply not possible and that the legendary Schumacher couldn’t be overtaken got a firm reminder that never say ‘never.’
On top of it, that Hamilton served a Grand slam- winning the race from pole and setting the fastest lap of the race at 1:18:750 (lap 63)- added more feathers to his hat.
What else would’ve Mercedes wanted, you wonder, in seeing their top driver establish a lap record at the returning Portimao-bound Algarve, with the race returning to the World Championship after 24 long years (last held in 1996 Portuguese GP).
But that told, what were the key talking points from the 2020 Portuguese GP?
Lewis Hamilton on top of the world at Portugal
For someone who is still criticized for not being on par with the greats of the past, including those from halcyon era (sixties, seventies) of FORMULA 1 or those from the sport’s heartstopping eighties, Lewis Hamilton’s win at Portugal was an important one.
Firstly, it proved that old adages- cliched that they may sound- need to be taken seriously: “Records are meant to be broken!”
Who would’ve thought that a driver would pass the iconic Michael Schumacher’s tally of most race wins or even come close to levelling the incredible tally of 91 wins?
With win#92, Hamilton broke old traditions, formed a new chapter in the annals of the great sport, and in so doing, proved he’s more than a brilliant tattoo carved on his back: he, as a matter of fact, is the living embodiment of the engraving he proudly carries: “Still I Rise!”
To suggest with utter humility, perhaps the sport is not as much about the endless Senna vs Schumacher or Schumacher vs Hamilton comparison as it is about upholding the accomplishment of greats.
And if you have 97 career podiums, 92 race wins, 6 world championships and 161 podium finishes (along with 52 fastest laps, one of which is the sport’s fastest-ever since Kimi Raikkonen’s 2018 Monza blitz) perhaps it suffices to say Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton is in a league of his own.
Crazy Start To The Race
In a season where there’ve been crazy races at Monza and Tuscany, two utterly thrilling contests where it just wasn’t possible to predict the outcome, the Algarve International Circuit produced another thriller- and right at the start.
It didn’t take long to see the pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton (who had gathered a 97th career pole, on Saturday) losing out his race lead to Valtteri Bottas with an unprecedented shakedown of grid positions adding more drama to the contest.
This was a sight none saw coming and became, undoubtedly, one of the big talking points from the 2020 Portuguese GP.
But this wasn’t before Max Verstappen (P3)- not the most regarded driver at Portugal especially how the Dutchman conducted himself on the track- contacted the Racing Point of Sergio Perez (P5).
The Red Bull clipping the Mercedes-powered Racing Point in the run down to Turn 4 changed the context of the race inside the opening lap itself.
Just imagine what might’ve happened had Max, who began from the second row on the grid, would have not dropped behind?
Probably, Perez, who finished P7, would’ve even bagged a place inside the top-five, but who knows?
But if you thought that was the only shocker the Portuguese GP would serve, then we all stood corrected as, not long from the start did Carlos Sainz Jr., who began seventh on the grid, (McLaren) snatch the lead from the then- race leader Valtteri Bottas adding yet more drama to an already dramatic few opening seconds.
Charles Leclerc At It Again
One of the key talking points from the 2020 Portuguese GP was Charles Leclerc’s commanding drive, a result much-needed by a team that finds itself desperately out of form in 2020.
Leclerc, who’s only driving in his second season in the sport, would finish exactly where he’d begin his maiden run at the Algarve from: fourth on the grid.
In so doing, Leclerc kept up the fight for the Scuderia, his teammate down in 12 (at the start), and would soon thereafter, hold high-octane battles with the likes of the two McLarens, the Racing Point of Perez and and that’s not all.
The 23-year-old Monaco Monegasque even passed the ever-quick Daniel Ricciardo at the mid stages to unfurl authority, despite being powered by not the best-performing engine of the season.
Moreover, Leclerc’s last race results also point to a certain respectability one thinks he might not necessarily be getting credit for, in a seaon where it’s all about Mercedes’ unfettered excellence and the mighty ‘Hammertime!’
At the Nurburgring, Leclerc finished behind Perez, on seventh, which was right after his P6 at Sochi’s Russian GP.
In that regard, the Ferrari driver’s 70th Anniversary GP-equalling drive at Portimao (a P4 result in both) kept him in good stead. Moreover, the young Prancing Horse also indicated yet again, that it is he not the legendary four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who’s got the hang of the SF-1000, that’s clearly not on power with the two Red Bulls as also the two Mercedes’.
Among the biggest talking points from the 2020 Portuguese GP was the race pace and overall drive of Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly.
The young Frenchman- who not too long ago even raced for Red Bull- (teaming up alongside Max Verstappen) gave fans and backers a performance to remember, ending P5, having begun from P9 on the grid.
But implicit in the Rouen-born driver’s Portimao efforts were several scintillating overtakes, one of which came on the ‘master of late braking’- Daniel Ricciardo.
Not always to overcome the one who habitually overcomes even faster machines right? But Gasly, whose last few race results include- a P6 at the Nurburgring, P9 at Sochi, and a DNF at Mugello- drove akin to man determined to make do for a bit of a lackluster run of lately.
Before the pass on Renault’s Honeybadger, the go-to man of the Italian team even matched the Racing Point’s race pace.
Can we see more exciting drives up ahead by the Monza-winner?
Esteban Ocon Beat Daniel Ricciardo
Not always does Esteban Ocon finish ahead of Renault’s leading driver for 2020, Daniel Ricciardo, the Australian already enjoying a lead of 40 points over his French teammate (2020 driver standings).
But the Portimao-contest unfurled a different Ocon, a man who truly did all he could to make a case for himself, ending eighth on the grid, a place above his Australian teammate.
That being said, at the heart of one of the big talking points from the 2020 Portuguese GP was the successful overcut Ocon executed, pitting late in the day, holding up the grid position for the better part of the race.
For a driver who entered Portimao at the back of a heart-breaking DNF at the Nurburgring-bound Eifel GP, having scored a 7th in comparison to his teammate’s P5 at Sochi a race earlier, the Portuguese GP offered respite to the talented driver.
Here’s hoping that Ocon, currently 12 on the standings, 17 points adrift of Lance Stroll on P11, can end his season well at Renault in what’s left of 2020.