The Portuguese Grand Prix wasn’t exactly a nail biter, was it? It started off with a lot of promise; we had a nice 3-way battle for the lead forming and thinking that this could be another banging race. However, once Lewis passed Bottas for the lead and started sailing off, we all knew it was race over. Verstappen said after the weekend that he hopes F1 never returns to Portimão (wonder if he’d have said that if he won) and I wouldn’t say my dislike for the track goes that far; but I certainly won’t miss it if it’s not on the calendar next year. One benefit is that this article shouldn’t be too long today!
Hamilton showed his class once again with another sterling drive. The man is like a fine wine: he absolutely matures and gets better with age. In the first two races Hamilton showed resilience and determination and it was exactly the same in Portimão. Despite losing out to Verstappen at the safety car restart, Hamilton swiftly got him back on lap 11. On lap 20, Hamilton constructed a lovely DRS pass to overtake Bottas for P1, and completely controlled the race from then. If anyone had any questions about Lewis’ determination and commitment for this season, I think you’ve got the answer.
As for Verstappen and Bottas, they both had okay races. Verstappen and Red Bull did well to undercut Bottas and claim P2, and then after that it was just a case of managing the tyres and trying to get fastest lap. Perez had the kind of race he needs to with Red Bull. Starting from 4th, he lost a position at the start but was able to get it back and finish in P4. It’s the kind of drive Red Bull expect from their no.2 driver and hopefully Perez will start feeling even more confident in that car soon. Overall, a fairly standard race for both Mercedes and Red Bull this weekend.
The problem with this weekend was down to poor choice of tyres from the FIA. Portimão is a low-grip track, meaning that the tyres don’t wear quickly and they last longer. Despite this, the FIA decided to bring the three hardest tyre compounds to the race (?!?). Like honestly, what is the thinking behind that; it makes absolutely zero sense and it completely ruined the weekend. People were struggling for grip with their tyres; not because they didn’t have enough grip, but because they couldn’t get their hard tyres working on the low-grip track. This made for quite an exciting race last year in the changeable conditions, but it just didn’t quite cut the mustard this year.
There was some decent action in Formula 1.5, as there always is. Alpine had a strong weekend, and Alonso produced some stunning overtakes to move up to P8 after starting in a measly P13. Ocon had a great weekend too, coming home in P7 and scoring some needed points for Alpine. Lando continued his electric form, finishing best of the rest in P5, with his teammate Danny Ric coming through from P16 to finish P9 and score two points.
I’m not quite sure what happened to Sainz, but he was pitted too early and put on the wrong tyres (good to see the Ferrari strategists back at work again). Leclerc at least had a decent race, after being outqualified for probably a long time in a while. Aston Martin looked dreadful and they really need to get on top of their car, otherwise they’re gonna be stuck in 7th place in the Constructors’. Vettel made it through to Q3- embarrassingly for the first time in 19 races- but slipped back to P13 with his teammate one place behind. Poor from Aston Martin, although they claim they’ve been unfairly hampered by the rule changes this year. They claim that it was designed to affect the low-rake cars more than the high-rakes. Yet look at Mercedes, clearly the fastest this weekend so it sounds a lot like excuses from Aston.
Can we also appreciate Mick not finishing in second last place!! Mick did so well to pressure Latifi into making that mistake and finish as high up as P17!! All jokes aside, I think Mick is already showing his talent in that car, as he consistently outclasses his teammate (probably not hard) and even beat one of the better Williams cars this weekend. Keep it up Mick, I think every Formula 1 fan is rooting for you.
Brace yourself people. The next race is… the Spanish Grand Prix *sighs*. The circuit organisers have changed turn 10 to make it more of a sweeping corner, but I can’t see it having any effect on the racing. It is normally such a boring race and I’m not expecting anything else this weekend either; my goal is to not fall asleep during the race. We’re Formula 1 fans however, and we sit through these boring races to get to the better ones. And my word, do we have a belter after the Spanish Grand Prix; the long-awaited return of Monaco!! Bring it on.