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Hamilton shines on the Algarve with Portuguese GP win to put Verstappen in the shade

Hamilton shines on the Algarve with Portuguese GP win to put Verstappen in the shade

F1 News

Hamilton shines on the Algarve with Portuguese GP win to put Verstappen in the shade

Hamilton shines on the Algarve with Portuguese GP win to put Verstappen in the shade

Lewis Hamilton stretched his advantage over Max Verstappen in the battle for this year's F1 title after claiming victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Following an early scare when Hamilton fell to third behind Mercedes pole-sitting team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull's Verstappen, the seven-time champion was not be denied his 97th career win at Portimão.

The 36-year-old eventually finished 29 seconds ahead of Verstappen to open up an eight-point lead over the Dutch driver, with Bottas settling for third, followed by the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

The cushion was due to Red Bull pitting Verstappen with two laps remaining in a bid to claim the fastest lap, and he duly obliged by doing so on the final lap.

However, that was soon deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 14, handing the point to Bottas instead.

Following the riveting action of the opening two races in Bahrain and Imola, this was a more routine affair on the Algarve following a safety car that was called at the start of lap two.

Kimi Raikkonen, who famously made up 10 places on the opening lap of last year's race at this track, on this occasion retired immediately after it following a collision with his own team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi.

Hurtling down the start-finish straight, Raikkonen was closing in on Giovinazzi, only to clip the rear-left tyre of the Italian's car with his front wing that immediately dislodged and wedged itself underneath his C41.

The Finn eventually ran off track and into the gravel at turn one, and in leaving debris behind and with the need of the marshals to safely remove the car, a safety car was immediately deployed.

The clearance of the debris led to the field filing through the pit lane twice followed by another three laps behind the safety car before the race resumed on lap eight.

At the restart, with Bottas leading the pack, Verstappen managed to get the jump on Hamilton as the Dutch driver passed the Briton on the run down to turn one.

Three laps later Hamilton reclaimed second place, courtesy of a small mistake from Verstappen who ran wide out of turn 14, allowing his title rival to take advantage of the DRS down the straight.

Hamilton then hounded Bottas over the following laps before pulling off a stunning move around the outside of the Finn at turn one on lap 20.

Hamilton then soon proclaimed the used medium tyres on which he started the race were "shot", only to set the fastest lap on 26 as he proceeded to eke out a lead over Bottas who was fighting to keep Verstappen at bay.

But with the 23-year-old unable to make inroads on Bottas, Red Bull pulled the trigger first on the pit stop on lap 36, switching from the medium compound to a fresh set of hards.

In a bid to prevent the undercut, Mercedes followed suit a lap later with Bottas, and while the team managed to get their driver out ahead of Verstappen, the fresh rubber lacked grip.

After squirming his way out of turn four, Bottas became a sitting duck on the run down to the turn-five hairpin where Verstappen squeezed his way through into second place.

Hamilton pitted an additional lap later, and given his margin to Bottas and Verstappen he avoided the threat his team-mate was forced to endure, and from there it was a straightforward run to the chequered flag.

With the trio pitting, it promoted Sergio Perez into the lead, albeit needing to stop for his own set of new tyres.

After starting fourth, Perez initially lost places after being involved in early skirmishes with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris in his McLaren either side of the safety car.

Perez eventually settled into a comfortable fourth, which is where the Mexican took the flag after losing the lead to Hamilton on lap 51 and after taking on a fresh set of soft tyres a lap later.

Hopes of third place, as Bottas lost time due to a temperature sensor issue with 10 laps remaining, were soon thwarted as the problem was solved within a couple of laps.

Behind Perez, Norris continued his fine start to the season with fifth, to add to his fourth in Bahrain and third in Imola, followed by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso showed form with seventh and eighth, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in ninth in his McLaren, which was a salvage operation after starting a wretched 16th, with AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly 10th.

There was more pain for Aston Martin as Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll could only finish 13th and 14th, while George Russell's hopes of his first points for Williams again came to nothing as he dropped from 11th at the start to 16th at the flag.

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