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Hamilton again the hunted - five things we learned from the F1 Portuguese GP

Hamilton again the hunted - five things we learned from the F1 Portuguese GP

F1 News

Hamilton again the hunted - five things we learned from the F1 Portuguese GP

Hamilton again the hunted - five things we learned from the F1 Portuguese GP

A Portuguese Grand Prix weekend full of intrigue and yet more controversy has thrown the F1 title battle right open.

Lewis Hamilton took his 97th career victory with Max Verstappen having to settle for second whilst in the midfield, the perceived running order changed around again.

With plenty to take from a race dominated by a lack of grip, let's dive straight into the five things we learned at Portimão.

Hamilton returns to being the hunted

So much has been made of Hamilton and Mercedes being the ones to chase Red Bull and Verstappen down this year, with the latter even described as the favourite.

Yet on the evidence of the first three races and the points standings, Hamilton and Mercedes continue to have the upper hand.

In Portugal, despite dropping from second early on, the seven-time champion looked back to his untouchable best as he eased past both Verstappen and team-mate Valtteri Bottas for the lead.

His squeeze at turn three on Verstappen was a clear warning to his rival that he will not tolerate the kind of robust move seen at turn one in Imola, a comeuppance for the Dutchman.

Whilst the 29-second margin of victory is skewed by Verstappen's late fastest lap attempt, the gap was still a steady five seconds ahead of Red Bull's pitstop. Red Bull will need a mini resurgence in Spain this week.

Ferrari strategy falters as McLaren takes upperhand

How often will we sit here and write about how Ferrari's strategy cost the team valuable points?

After qualifying fifth, Carlos Sainz dropped down to 11th by the end of the race as a horrendous strategy call left him stranded on a set of graining medium tyres for the majority of the race.

Whilst Charles Leclerc picked up points in sixth, he was unable to make significant headway after also struggling on mediums.

With McLaren again finishing best of the rest and Daniel Ricciardo recovering from 16th on the grid, the race for third in the championship has taken an early swing the Woking-based team's way.

Alpine best of class A-team

The secondary midfield of AlphaTauri, Alpine, Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo saw the French outfit emerge as the best in tricky conditions in Portugal.

Esteban Ocon looked quick all weekend and was fully deserving of his seventh-place finish, whilst Fernando Alonso rolled back the years as he fought his way up from 13th on the grid to eighth.

In contrast, AlphaTauri will again feel like points have been dropped after not making the most of a clearly quick race car, whilst Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo failed to make an impression on the top 10.

The encouragement for all will come from the flip-flop nature of the pecking order across the first three races.

Schumacher the unsung hero of the weekend

It does not take another Adrian Newey to determine this year's Haas is difficult to drive. Numerous spins for both Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin this season has outlined the VF-21's deficiencies in broad daylight.

Yet at Portimão, Schumacher put in a somewhat virtuoso performance. The German made few, if any, mistakes across the weekend and was comfortably faster than his Russian team-mate.

At the conclusion of the race, he was even able to pressurise Williams' Nicholas Latifi into an error to finish ahead of the Canadian.

Schumacher has constantly been upbeat about his chances of mixing it with the lower end of the grid whilst his ambition has been dismissed with the knowledge of Haas' lack of development.

Maybe, from his showing over the weekend, there is pace to find.

Track limits dominate talking points AGAIN!

When Christian Horner wakes up and checks his daily routine, 'argue about track limits' will fall somewhere between the race and eating his dinner.

Sergio Perez thought he was overtaken by Lando Norris outside the circuit boundaries and lost significant time behind the McLaren, whilst Verstappen was stripped of his fastest lap bonus point for running wide at turn 14.

Only Esteban Ocon managed to progress through the three practice sessions without falling foul of the limits as again corners were added to the watchlist after the start of the weekend and different boundaries were set at different points.

How long will it be until a single, defined track limit will be imposed consistently around the track? If there was any common sense, it will be at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.


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