Portuguese GP Preview: Hamilton’s Quest for 92 Wins Starts at Portimao
Lewis Hamilton comes to this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix on the cusp of passing Michael Schumacher’s record as the leader in Formula 1 race wins.
Hamilton dominated the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring two weeks ago on his way to tying Schumacher. The six-time World Drivers Champion comes to the third brand new circuit on the 2020 calendar with a 69 point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas.
The 4.684 km Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, or Portimao Circuit, presents a similar challenge to Mugello was for the drivers and teams.
The circuit is fast and tyre management will be key with so many sweeping corners. Like Mugello, sand traps line the run-off areas, which puts a premium on car control and staying on track compared to Tilke designs.
Passing will be at a premium, with a single DRS detection starting before the final corner (Galp) and leading into a tight radius Turn 1 (Primeria).
Outside of DRS, the most likely passing zone will be the hairpin Torre VIP corner, which has the signature tower as a backdrop.
For American motorsports fans, Portimao has characteristics of Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama or Circuit of the Americas, where the U.S. Grand Prix usually takes place around this time of year.
Last Time Out
Bottas started on pole and led comfortably through 12 laps. However, a mistake in Turn 1 on Lap 13 allowed Hamilton by and on his way to victory.
Bottas soon fell out of the race due to power unit issues which destroyed any momentum built from his Russian GP triumph.
Max Verstappen set the fastest lap for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, but finished 4.470 seconds behind the Mercedes AMG Petronas driver in second.
Daniel Ricciardo took his first podium since winning the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix and Renault’s first podium as a constructor since 2011.
Sergio Perez took his Racing Point from ninth to finish fourth while Carlos Sainz rounded out the top five for McLaren. Rounding out the points scorers were Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc, Nico Hulkenberg (substituting for Lance Stroll), Romain Grosjean and Antonio Giovinazzi.
As mentioned earlier, Lewis Hamilton can break Michael Schumacher’s win record in Portugal. He can also go one step closer to tying the German with seven World Driver’s Championship this season.
Based on the performance of the Mercedes W11 car and power unit in general, Hamilton should be able to add to his brilliant record of winning seven of the first 11 races of 2020.
However, the possibility of safety cars and red flags does exist with the lack of personnel at the track. As well as the opportunities to have major off course incidents.
This could open up strategies where Hamilton could get stuck in a similar fashion to the Italian Grand Prix, where Gasly famously won over Sainz and Stroll.
Practice 1: 23 Oct 11:00 – 12:30 (6-7:30 AM EST)
Practice 2: 23 Oct 15:00 – 16:30 (10-11:30 AM EST)
Practice 3: 24 Oct 11:00 – 12:00 (6-7 AM EST)
Qualifying: 24 Oct 14:00 – 15:00 (9-10 AM EST)
Race: 25 Oct 13:10 – 15:10 (9:10-11:10 AM EST)
All times in BST, unless stated otherwise.
Grid Talk Podcast
Want more content to preview your Portuguese Grand Prix weekend? Host Ruby Price with panelists Owain Medford, Louis Edwards and yours truly stared in Grid Talk’s Portuguese Grand Prixview.
Video and audio versions of the show are linked below: