Perez takes his first victory as Mercedes messed up pitstop

Sergio Perez took a brilliant win for Racing Point in Formula 1’s Sakhir Grand Prix after a messy Mercedes pitstop and then a puncture cost long-time leader George Russell his dream result.

Esteban Ocon finished second for Renault ahead of Lance Stroll’s Racing Point, with the Mercedes cars down in eighth and ninth – Valtteri Bottas, also delayed significantly in the pitstop fiasco, in front of Russell.

Perez also faces a post-race investigation over a lap one incident that eliminated Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, in which Perez was spun around and fell to the rear of the field.

At the start, Bottas and Russell launched in unison from the front row, but Bottas was slower in the second phase and Russell pulled alongside, with Max Verstappen having a look in between them.

Russell seized the lead at the apex of Turn 1, with Bottas forced wide and then sliding at the entry for Turn 2, which let Russell run free and bunched the pack up behind.

This ended in contact at Turn 4 – the right from the traditional Bahrain Grand Prix layout where the drivers then sweep quickly left to start the outer loop – despite Verstappen braking early behind Bottas and the attacking Perez on the outside.

Bottas locked up but stayed clear in second, as Perez swept into the Turn 4 apex and collided with a locked up Leclerc, who suffered a broken left-front in the contact while the Racing Point was spun around.

Verstappen stayed free of contact but seemed to carry too much speed through the gravel trap beyond Turn 4 and he slid into the barriers and out, with the safety car deployed immediately.

The race resumed at the start of lap seven of 87, with Russell already well clear as he crossed the safety car control line and Bottas under pressure from Carlos Sainz, who had risen to third in the first lap chaos.

Sainz attacked Bottas into Turn 1 and held on around the outside take second, but he slid out of Turn 2 and cut the oncoming Turn 3 kink, which allowed Bottas back to second.

At the end of the first lap back at full speed, Russell had a lead of 1.1 seconds, which he set about extending as the Mercedes drivers were the only ones to run in the low 58 seconds.

This quickly pulled them well clear of Sainz, who headed a train of runners during the opening phase of the race, before Bottas was able to stabilise the gap when it reached 2.4 seconds on lap 17.

Bottas edged back towards Russell as the Mercedes drivers were told they were well over their target for stopping before George was able to extend his lead again approaching one-third distance.

As the rest of the top ten runners, most of whom had started on softs compared to the mediums on the Black Arrows, stopped, the two leaders were soon lapping backmarkers, which caused the gap between them to fluctuate.

Russell’s lead was 3.1 seconds when he came in to change to the hards at the end of lap 45, with Bottas left out for a further four laps.

Despite a scare with a sensor issue, which caused Russell to report “no power” on his out-lap, the significant undercut factor meant Russell’s lead ballooned to 8.5 seconds at the end of Bottas’s out-lap.

Both Mercedes drivers were then warned about the loads their left-front track rods were taking through the punishing Turns 7/8 chicane, before a virtual safety car was called when Nicholas Latifi pulled over on the inside of Turn 8 and retired due to a suspected oil leak.

Bottas had cut Russell’s lead to under five seconds with strong pace on his new hards either side of the VSC, but the race was then turned on its head when a second safety car was called after Jack Aitken spun off at the final corner and wiped the nose off his Williams.

A second VSC was upgraded to the full safety car so the debris could be recovered and Mercedes called its cars in for what turned out to be a calamitous double-stack stop.

After Russell had a slightly slow change he was sent out with a mixed set of mediums and had to be called in again a lap later, while Bottas lost nearly half a minute waiting as the team realised the error and sent him back out on the same hard tyres he had taken at his first stop.

The Mercedes pitstop gaffe meant that Perez, who had pitted for hards before the first VSC has he quickly recovered up the order following his first lap off, led ahead of Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll – as those that had been following Mercedes had come in during the Latifi VSC.

The race restarted again on lap 69, with Perez romping clear as Russell ran behind Bottas before nipping up to P5 when his teammate ran deep at Turn 4 on lap 70, which left Russell with the chance to muscle his way by over the bumps into the chicane.

Russell the quickly dispatched Stroll and Ocon on successive laps shortly afterwards, which left him with a 3.4 seconds gap to close to Perez.

The Briton set a series of fastest laps, but then a left-rear slow puncture forced Mercedes to stop him for a fourth time – for softs – and dropped him out of contention.

Perez had kept up his pace and pulled away from Ocon over the rest of the race and came home to take a sensational first F1 win by 10.5 seconds.

Sainz finished fourth as Bottas’s faded badly on his hard tyres, slipping down the just before Russell had to pit for his puncture.

Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth ahead of Alex Albon and Daniil Kvyat, then came the Mercedes cars.

Russell had rejoined from his final stop in P14, but was able to use his softs to scythe back up the order and claim his first F1 points finish.

Lando Norris completed the top 10 ahead of Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel.

Aitken and Pietro Fittipaldi finished their first Formula 1 races in P16 and P17 at the rear of the field.

So an exciting and dramatic race. Congratulations to Sergio Perez in winning his first Formula 1 race. It was an epic fightback from Checo to come through the field following a spin on lap 1. To take victory for Racing Point is a magnificent result. Do feel sorry for George Russell, who led the early part of this race. But the double stacking pitstop went wrong and a late puncture ruined the chance to score a victory or podium. At least Russell was able to score a championship point with a top ten finish. This is racing.

Sahkir Grand Prix, race results:

1 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:31:15.114
2 Esteban Ocon Renault 10.518
3 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 11.869
4 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 12.580
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 13.330
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 13.842
7 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 14.534
8 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 15.389
9 George Russell Mercedes 18.556
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 19.541
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 20.527
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 22.611
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 24.111
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 26.153
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 32.370
16 Jack Aitken Williams-Mercedes 33.674
17 Pietro Fittipaldi Haas-Ferrari 36.858
– Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes –
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda –
– Charles Leclerc Ferrari –

Bottas takes Sakhir Grand Prix pole position, edging out Russell

Valtteri Bottas beat his new Mercedes teammate George Russell – who is subbing the sick Lewis Hamilton – to pole position in the Sakhir Grand Prix.

With last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix polesitter and race winner Lewis Hamilton absent after his positive COVID-19 test last week, the main focus of qualifying was whether Russell could beat Bottas to pole or suffer the first qualifying defeat to a teammate in his short Formula 1 career so far.

After the Mercedes duo had been the only drivers to get through Q2 on the medium tyres, which they will use at the start of Sunday’s race, the Black Arrows unusually opted to give them three runs in Q3.

Their first flying efforts were completed on used tyres, which meant they initially sat behind Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc on the leaderboard.

But Mercedes went again during the middle phase of the final segment of the session, with Bottas leading the way and blitzing to a 53.377 seconds, with Russell 0.142 seconds adrift.

On their final runs in the final minute, Bottas could not improve his time but held on to pole as Williams regular Russell could only close to 0.026 seconds in what was the first time he had competed in a Q3 session.

Verstappen, who went into qualifying with some hope having topped FP3 and had attempted to get through Q2 on the mediums before later going faster on the softs, finished third, with Leclerc hanging on to fourth despite getting out of his car after his run at the start of Q3 had finished.

The Ferrari driver only had one set of new softs available and therefore did not go back on to the track, but his 53.613 seconds was enough to leave ahead of Sergio Perez.

Daniil Kvyat took sixth for AlphaTauri, with Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll rounding out the top ten.

Esteban Ocon was shuffled down the order as the chequered flag was waved. The Renault driver was knocked him out in P11 at the end of Q2, with Alex Albon out in P12 – missing Q3 for the third time this season.

Sebastian Vettel had attempted to get through on the mediums during the early Q2 running, as did his teammate Charles Leclerc, but the four-time world champion could not improve enough after switching to the softs for the final runs.

That left Vettel P13, ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi, while Lando Norris was the lowest driver eliminated in Q2 as he finished P15.

The McLaren driver had run at the head of the pack for the final run, but abandoned his first attempt at last flying lap before going again in the dying seconds – a lap he also completed well off the pace, later saying on the team radio “sorry guys, we went too early”.

In Q1, Kevin Magnussen was knocked out in P16, with Albon just scrapping through ahead in P15 as Red Bull kept him in the pits for the final minutes of the opening segment.

The Williams pair of Nicholas Latifi and Jack Aitken came next, with Latifi ahead – but only after his new teammate had led the way in the first three runs in Q1 before the Canadian was able to steal ahead by nearly a tenth.

Formula 1’s most experienced driver, Kimi Raikkonen, ended up sandwiched between the two newest drivers – as the Alfa Romeo racer could only manage P19, with Romain Grosjean stand-in Pietro Fittipaldi bringing up the rear of the field in P20 for Haas.

So solid qualifying effort from George Russell to get P2. While Valtteri Bottas stepped up to the challenge by taking pole position. It’s going to be fascinating who will win the Sakhir Grand Prix as the outer Bahrain circuit has never been ran before and the lap time is under 60 seconds, meaning a fast and frantic race. May the best driver win.

Sakhir Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 53.377s
2 George Russell Mercedes 53.403s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 53.433s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 53.613s
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 53.790s
6 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 53.906s
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 53.957s
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 54.010s
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 54.154s
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 54.200s
11 Esteban Ocon Renault 53.995s
12 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 54.026s
13 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 54.175s
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 54.377s
15 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 54.693s
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 54.705s
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 54.796s
18 Jack Aitken Williams-Mercedes 54.892s
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 54.963s
20 Pietro Fittipaldi Haas-Ferrari 55.426s

Hamilton is victorious but Grosjean escapes from massive crash

The 2020 world champion Lewis Hamilton won the Bahrain Grand Prix, beating Max Verstappen, but this race will be remembered for the shocking, fiery crash for Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

The race was also by disrupted by two safety cars in incidents that eliminated both Racing Point drivers, but the main highlight was the horrifying incident on the opening lap that involved Grosjean escaping his burning car after piercing one of the track’s barriers after making contact with Daniil Kvyat.

At the initial start, Valtteri Bottas made a slow getaway from second when the five red lights went out, while Hamilton leapt clear in the lead, and the Mercedes driver was quickly passed by Verstappen and Sergio Perez on the run to Turn 1.

Bottas was then swamped by Alex Albon and Daniel Ricciardo at the opening right-hander and as he lost momentum entering Turn 2, it appeared to set off a chain of reactions in the pack behind.

Lando Norris had to check up, which brought him into a line with Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, which pinched at Turn 2 and caused Norris to slow again and left him with front wing damage.

The following Ferrari pair and Lance Stroll had to go wide in avoidance as they came up to the rear of Norris’s car, which sent the Racing Point wide, and the pack bunched up again going through the Turn 3 right kink, which slowed the group at the back of the midfield again.

The drivers at the rear of the field – including Grosjean – therefore quickly gained on those ahead, and in reaction the Haas driver moved right across the track, striking Kvyat’s AlphaTauri and sending him straight into the barriers.

His car was torn in half by the impact, with its fuel igniting and the front half of the car piercing through the barrier.

Grosjean was able to extricate himself from the burning wreckage, jumping back to the track-side of the fence and into the arms of FIA medical delegate Dr. Ian Roberts, who had arrived on the seen with medical driver Alan van der Merwe a few seconds after the impact.

The race was red-flagged after 36 seconds, just as the leaders were exiting Turn 6, and suspended for an hour and 20 minutes while Grosjean was taken first to the circuit’s medical centre by ambulance and then airlifted to the BDF Military Hospital for further evaluation.

His Haas team initially explained he had suffered minor burns on his hands and ankles and then gave a further update that he had suffered suspected broken ribs.

The pierced barrier was cut away and replaced with a series of concrete blocks, installed under the supervision of FIA race director Michael Masi.

The cars restarted on lap three of 57, with Hamilton on pole again ahead of Verstappen and Perez, with Bottas back up to fourth as the order was taken by the positions at the second safety car line during the initial start.

Hamilton again made a simple getaway from pole, with Bottas briefly able to challenge Perez and Verstappen ahead of him, but it was the Red Bull that had to defend against the Racing Point at the first corner.

Perez was edged out on the outside line, which put him back under pressure from Bottas as the cars raced through the rest of the first sector.

But the race was suspended again when Stroll and Kvyat came together at the Turn 8 hairpin, with the AlphaTauri on the inside and flipping Stroll’s car when it hit the Racing Point’s right rear, with Vettel forced to slam on the brakes and Kevin Magnussen breaking his front wing against the suddenly slowing Ferrari.

As Stroll was stranded upside down, the safety car was called into action as he climbed out, during which Mercedes had to pit Bottas when he picked up a puncture, which dropped him from fourth to P16 as he rejoined on the hard tyres.

The race restarted on lap nine, with Hamilton grabbing a 0.7 seconds lead over the line by nailing the final corner better than Verstappen as they moved back to racing speed.

The top two quickly romped clear of Perez, the only two drivers able to lap in the one minute, 34 seconds, but after just a few laps at that pace Verstappen began to slip back.

By lap 14, Hamilton had edged to a 2.0s lead, briefly dipping into the one minute, 33 seconds as Verstappen circulated in the one minute, 35 seconds, and he continued to edge away across the rest of the first stint.

Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 19 to take new mediums with a lead of 4.6 seconds, with Verstappen and Perez coming in at the end of the following tour – where they opted for hard tyres, of which they had both come into the race with two sets to Hamilton’s one.

When the stops shook out Hamilton led by 5.5 seconds at the start of lap 22, but Verstappen told Red Bull he would go “full send” and immediately brought the gap down by a second with a then fastest lap.

Then pair then exchanged faster times in the high one minute, 33 seconds and one minute, 34 seconds before Hamilton was able to re-establish his five second advantage by the end of the race’s first 30 laps.

Red Bull went aggressive to pit Verstappen for a second time at the end of lap 34, switching him back to the mediums, but the stop ran long by three seconds.

Nevertheless, after Mercedes had pitted Hamilton for hards at the end of the following lap, Verstappen was just 3.7s behind after a rapid out lap and first flying effort, as Perez pitted from in between the two leaders.

In a near copy of the second stint, Verstappen was initially able to exchange quicker laps with Hamilton before starting to slip back – hitting the one minute, 34 seconds again after initially running in the one minute, 32 seconds after his second stop on lap 46.

Hamilton had edged his lead up to five seconds again by that tour, at the end of which Red Bull brought Verstappen in for a third stop to take another set of mediums as he had enough time in hand over Perez.

Verstappen quickly set the race’s fastest lap at one minute, 32.014 seconds as Mercedes opted to leave Hamilton out with a near 30 seconds advantage.

That was whittled down to just over 20 seconds, although it appeared as if Hamilton had everything under control, when Perez’s engine suddenly began to let go as he ran down the main straight with four laps to go.

The Racing Point driver slow as his power unit eventually caught fire, after which he stopped on the back straight and the safety car was called out again.

Mercedes considered pitting Hamilton again but opted not too as the gap to Verstappen was too marginal, judging that the race would finish under the safety car, which it eventually did.

Albon joined Hamilton and Verstappen on the podium as a result of Perez’s problem, with Norris and Carlos Sainz moving up to fourth and fifth for McLaren – the latter gaining after making the soft tyres work unexpectedly well during the opening stint.

Gasly was the only driver to complete a one-stopper (Antonio Giovinazzi stopped for a second time under the final safety car and fell to P16 as a result) as he came home fifth despite being overtaken by the two McLarens later on and looking as if he would be vulnerable to Ricciardo behind without the safety car.

Bottas recovered to eighth after initially making little progress after his puncture, making three stops on his way back up the order, and then getting a suspected second puncture during the second safety car, which he was able to nurse to the finish.

Ocon finished ninth having been involved in a long and costly fight with Ricciardo during the middle phase of the race, with Leclerc rounding out the top ten.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with this race victory but luckiest of all is Romain Grosjean. That crash on the opening lap was horrifying. To see his racing car split in half and so much fire was shocking. Relieved that the halo and modern safety standards helped and saved his life.

Bahrain Grand Prix, race results:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2:59:47.515
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1.254
3 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 8.005
4 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 11.337
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 11.787
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 11.942
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 19.368
8 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 19.680
9 Esteban Ocon Renault 22.803
10 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1 lap
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
12 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
13 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1 lap
14 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
18 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes –
– Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes –
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari –

Hamilton grabs Bahrain Grand Prix pole

Newly crowned world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved another pole position, this time at Bahrain beating his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

After Verstappen had led the final practice session, Hamilton hit back to top all three segments of qualifying, leading the way on the first runs in Q3 with a lap time of one minute, 27.677 seconds.

The 2020 world champion then found time in all three sectors on his second run on the soft Pirelli compound, ending up with a new track record of one minute, 27.264 seconds.

Verstappen had been in second position after the first runs in Q3, after which he complained he did not have the rear grip he had enjoyed earlier, with Bottas in third place.

But the Mercedes driver was able to find enough time on his final run to jump ahead, as Verstappen lost time in the final sector and wound up 0.414 seconds behind Hamilton.

Alex Albon took fourth position ahead of Sergio Perez, who demoted Daniel Ricciardo one spot on his final effort.

Esteban Ocon will start behind his Renault teammate in seventh, with Pierre Gasly eighth for AlphaTauri.

Lando Norris and Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top ten in Q3.

Q2 was disrupted by a red flag after Carlos Sainz spun at the end of the main straight, when the rear wheels on his McLaren suddenly locked as he approached Turn 1.

Sainz came to rest at the edge of the track and could not get going again, which forced the FIA to stop the session so his car could be recovered.

This stopped a big group of cars, led by Ricciardo, from setting the opening timed laps of the middle segment and suspended the session for over five minutes.

When it did get going again, the Q2 pack was split between a few early runners attempting to get through on the mediums (all the drivers bar the AlphaTauri pair and George Russell, who stayed in the pits at the start of Q2, had initially headed out on that rubber) and others waiting until the final moments.

Hamilton led the way ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, and the leading trio were followed by Alex Albon, Lando Norris and Sergio Perez, who were all a big chunk behind the P1 benchmark and under pressure to switch to the soft tyres, which few drivers will want to use in the race give it is degrading by 0.5 seconds per lap after just one tour.

Albon and Norris did switched to the red-walled rubber, by they and Perez were only beaten by Ricciardo during the final laps in Q2, and so all the top ten runners will start on the medium tyres.

Ferrari pair Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc had also tried to get through on the mediums but were knocked out in P11 and P12 – what a difference a year makes after locking out the front row – with Lance Stroll P13 and blaming a “miscommunication” for his early exit.

As they were suddenly not under pressure from drivers behind go faster on the mediums, Albon and Norris were able to abandon their runs on the softs, which Russell used on his late solo flying lap to take P14, which means he will start ahead of Sainz.

In Q1, Russell escaped the opening segment for the ninth time in 2020, while Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen were shuffled down as drivers running behind them on the track right at the end of the opening segment improved.

Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, who said he “pushed too hard” trying to “enjoy it”, were knocked out in P18 and P19, with Nicholas Latifi bringing up the rear of the field.

All five of the drivers eliminated in Q1 set their best times on the final laps, but could do enough to join Russell in Q2.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with another fine qualifying performance with pole position. After sealing the championship, his commitment continues with a brilliant drive to be the fastest.

Bahrain Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.264
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:27.553
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:27.678
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:28.274
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:28.322
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:28.417
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:28.419
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:28.448
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:28.542
10 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:28.618
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.149
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:29.165
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:29.557
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:31.218
15 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault –
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:29.491
17 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:29.810
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:30.111
19 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:30.138
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:30.182

Hamilton wins wild Turkish Grand Prix and takes seventh world championship

Lewis Hamilton won his seventh world championship following a wet and wild Turkish Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver has now equalled Michael Schumacher’s achievement with seven titles.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez finished in a solid second place while Sebastian Vettel drove a superb race in the Ferrari to score a podium spot with third.

The majority of the race was led by polesitter Lance Stroll, who lost out by taking a second pit stop for intermediates, a strategy Charles Leclerc used to charge to third in the closing stages, which he lost to teammate Sebastian Vettel after making a last-gaps move on Perez, while Mercedes opted to leave Hamilton on a one-stopper after he had charged up the leading Racing Point cars.

The race result gives Hamilton the 2020 championship and he now level with Michael Schumacher’s record title record.

At the start, all the cars made slow, slippery starts, but it was the Red Bull cars that could not carry enough momentum off the line, which meant Max Verstappen and Alex Albon were quickly swamped from second and fourth by the Renault and Mercedes cars.

Esteban Ocon followed Perez into Turn 1 in third position as Stroll led away from pole, but he was tapped into a spin by Daniel Ricciardo, who had turned out of the left-hander to avoid Hamilton, with the Mercedes suddenly appearing on his inside.

Ocon spun around and Bottas was left with nowhere to go, spinning in sync with the Renault as he avoided contact – although the Mercedes driver later tagged Ocon into a second spin, giving him a left-rear puncture, as he lost the rear of his W11 at the Turn 9 left-hander later on lap one.

Stroll and Perez surged clear, with Hamilton up to third from sixth on the grid, but he slid off at Turn 9 and was jumped by the fast-starting Vettel, who was up from P11 on the grid, and the recovering Verstappen.

At the end of lap one of 58, Stroll had a lead of 3.6 seconds over Perez, which he set about extending to over five seconds with a series of fastest laps over the next few tours before the Mexican driver started to ease back towards his teammate.

After Leclerc had proved the time was right to take intermediates with a stop from P14 on lap six, the leaders started to come in two laps later, led by Vettel and Hamilton from third and fifth – by which time Hamilton had become the fastest driver on track.

When they came in on lap eight, Verstappen was unleashed from behind Vettel and he insisted on staying out on his full wets until lap 11, two laps after Stroll had come in and easily retained the net lead.

Perez pitted the lap ahead of Verstappen, but had a slow right front change, and when the Red Bull finally came in – with Albon waiting until lap as the last of the leaders to change tyres – Verstappen just manage to jump ahead of Vettel, fractionally behind Perez.

Stroll’s lead once the stops had shaken out was up to 10.7 seconds, with the race then neutralised on lap 13 by the virtual safety car as Antonio Giovinazzi – who had crashed on the way to the grid ahead of the race, as did George Russell – pulled over to retire on the straight down the hill from Turn 8.

When the race resumed two laps later, the Red Bull drivers were able to fire their tyres up best of the leaders, with Verstappen harrying Perez and Albon easily passing Vettel at Turn 7 on lap 16 after Hamilton had locked up and slid off at Turn 12 – the track’s main passing point – the lap the VSC ended.

Verstappen had a chance to pass Perez when the Racing Point slipped out of Turn 9 on lap 18, after he had begun to make significant in-roads into Stroll’s lead, but after the Red Bull looked to Perez’s inside of the Turn 11 kink he shot out on the kerbs on the outside and lost the rear, spinning off at high speed and falling behind Albon, Vettel and Hamilton.

As he had flat-spotted his tyres, Verstappen had to pit for another set of inters, falling to eighth with Albon then homing in on Perez as Hamilton struggled to stay with Vettel as the teams started to think about switching to dry tyres.

By lap 24, Perez had whittled Stroll’s lead down to the four-second mark, with Albon following closely behind before then fading back over the next five laps as he struggled with the inters starting to wear on the drying track.

The tread falling away on the green-walled tyres seemed to favour Vettel and Hamilton, as they started to home in on the leaders as the race approached the halfway stage, when Leclerc again triggered another round of stops as he pitted for more inters from ninth.

His pace encouraged Vettel to pit as well, with Albon then gifting Hamilton third with spin at Turn 4 on lap 34, after which he immediately pitted.

Up front, Perez was suddenly closing right up to Stroll, getting with one second – DRS had been activated on lap 30 – as Racing Point considered whether to take the fresh inters or leave its drivers out.

But with Hamilton suddenly looming and the Ferraris flying on their new tyres, Stroll pitted on lap 36, coming out fourth, behind Verstappen – a factor again thanks to his early second stop.

Hamilton instructed Mercedes to leave him out and by the start of lap 37 he was within one second of Perez’s car, then making a simple DRS pass on the long run to Turn 12 to take P1, which he had in the opening laps been nearly a pitstop behind.

The champion quickly dropped Perez, who also did not pit for a second set of inters, building a gap on nearly 20 seconds over the next ten laps.

In the pack behind, Vettel, now being followed by the charging Leclerc, attacked a struggling Stroll into Turn 12 on lap 39, and when the former leader fought back at the left-hander, he slid deep and was passed by both Ferraris – then demoted at the same spot by Albon and Carlos Sainz on the next two laps.

Leclerc was on the move again on lap 40 when he passed Vettel with DRS on the run to Turn 12 and he quickly gapped his teammate over the next few tours, the period where Sainz passed Albon for fifth and the gaps between the leaders spread out significantly.

Despite the threat of rain returning in the closing stages, Hamilton, after Mercedes considered pitting him for a safety stop given his gap over Perez, cruised home to win by a comfortable 31.6 seconds.

Leclerc had slipped off the road at Turn 4 as the race entered its final stages, but he had enough in hand over Vettel to stay third, where he seemed destined to finish before the gap to Perez closed rapidly over the final laps.

Perez went deep at Turn 9 on the last lap and that gave Leclerc the chance to attack for second coming into Turn 12, but the Ferrari went too deep, which allowed Perez to stay in front and the suddenly close Vettel to nip ahead into third.

Leclerc therefore finished fourth ahead of Sainz, with Verstappen recovering to sixth ahead of Albon despite having another spin as they lapped the spun Kimi Raikkonen off the road at Turn 4.

Lando Norris demoted Stroll to ninth when the former leader slipped off the road at Turn 1 late on, with Daniel Ricciardo, who also spun while battling Norris a few laps before, rounding out the top ten.

Bottas ended up a lapped P14, spinning a further three times – five in total – as he struggled in a race where he had to beat Hamilton by eight points to keep the title fight alive.

He came in to take new inters in the closing stages after his teammate had put him a lap down, but his pace did not match Hamilton’s until the very last lap.

Kevin Magnussen retired in the pits late on, having rejoined the race after being released from his second stop with a suspected loose wheel – which will be investigated after the race.

Romain Grosjean and Nicholas Latifi also retired in the pits a few laps after they had clashed and spun off.

Verstappen also faces a post-race investigation for possibly crossing the pit exit line after his second stop.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in becoming this season’s world champion and equalling Michael Schumacher’s achievement. This is a historical moment in the sport by becoming a legend. Fantastic to see Sebastian Vettel back on the podium as it has been a while since he last finished in the top 3. It was so nice to see the champions giving respect after a chaotic race. Do feel sorry for Lance Stroll. After leading the most laps in the Racing Point, he had to settle for P9. His teammate Sergio Perez at least gave the team a solid amount of racing points with P2.

Turkish Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:42:19.313
2 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 31.633
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 31.960
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 33.858
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 34.363
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 44.873
7 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 46.484
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:01.259
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:12.353
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:35.460
11 Esteban Ocon Renault 1 lap
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
13 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
14 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1 lap
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
16 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari –
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari –
– Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes –
– Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari –

Stroll takes first ever pole position in dramatic qualifying session

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll scored his first ever pole position by beating Max Verstappen to take a shock maiden pole in a wet and dramatic qualifying session for Formula 1’s 2020 Turkish Grand Prix.

The session was heavily disrupted, with Q1 suspended for nearly 45-minutes after the rain intensified following the opening ten minutes, and when it did get going again it was quickly red-flagged for a second time when Romain Grosjean became stuck in the Turn 1 gravel after spinning off in his Haas.

Verstappen largely led the way throughout the qualifying session, with Esteban Ocon spending the long Q1 delay at the head of the times after impressing during the initial running, be he appeared to be caught out by a Q3 switch from wets to intermediates.

The Red Bull Racing driver’s first Q3 lap was a one minute, 52.326 seconds, which was over two seconds slower than Verstappen had gone to top Q2, but he looked to be going massively faster with two opening purple sectors on his next lap.

But Verstappen abandoned that run after Sergio Perez had shot to P1 with a one minute, 52.037 seconds using the green-walled inters, and so Verstappen came in to take that tyre.

But he although Verstappen found time at the very end of Q3, he was not in command as he had been before, with Perez and Racing Point suddenly looking to be the pole favourites.

But Perez, who had spun on his next lap after seizing P1, was eventually shuffled down to third after Stroll, who had headed out on the wets early on in Q3 in a different approach to his teammate, put in a one minute, 47.765 seconds to rise to the front.

Verstappen had to find a way past Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo before he final run, where he climbed from third to second, but wound up 0.29 seconds behind Stroll.

Alex Albon took fourth for Red Bull ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who stayed on the wet tyres throughout Q3.

Lewis Hamilton was the lead Mercedes in sixth, having trailed behind teammate Valtteri Bottas throughout the sessions leading up to Q3 and during their initial laps on the wets in the last session.

But after Mercedes called its drivers to take the inters, Hamilton was able to improve more, as Bottas set a personal best on his final run but still ended up down in ninth.

Ocon and Raikkonen ended up ahead of the Mercedes, with Antonio Giovinazzi rounding out the top ten.

Q2 ran uninterrupted throughout, with the drivers finding chunks of time with each lap they set.

Verstappen led the way, nearly two seconds clear of anyone else, while the Alfa Romeo cars reached Q3 for the first time in 2020.

All of the eliminated runners set personal bests on their final laps, but they could not improve by enough, headed by Lando Norris in P11.

Norris and teammate Carlos Sainz had run with the inters at the start of Q2, but came in for wets ahead of their final runs.

This took them inside the two-minute mark, but they were still big chunk behind the top 10 cutoff, as Norris finished nearly 0.7 seconds slower than Ricciardo.

Sebastian Vettel split the McLarens in P12, with Charles Leclerc also out in Q2 in P14, despite his strong pace in the dry practice sessions on Friday, and his P2 in FP3.

Pierre Gasly was knocked out in P15 despite a late visit to the AlphaTauri pits to take fresh wets, while Sainz faces a post-qualifying investigation after possibly impeding Perez during one run in Q2.

In Q1, Kevin Magnussen was eliminated in P16 as he was caught behind several incidents following the second red flag, one of which was Daniil Kvyat spinning at Turn 3, which cost him the chance to escape the opening segment as he complained about poor visibility.

Kvyat therefore ended up out in P17, ahead of George Russell, who also lost time running behind the incidents after the second restart – the second of which was Nicholas Latifi spinning off exiting the middle apex of Turn 8 and beaching his Williams in the gravel on the outside.

Russell will start last after his replacement power unit parts will drop him to the rear of field, which will boost Grosjean and Latifi a spot each from P19 and P20.

Verstappen and Albon headed Q1 with the only times under two minutes – as they lapped at the head of the field after the second restart, ahead of the two incidents taking place in their wake.

All laps completed by drivers passing the yellows flying for Kvyat’s spin and Latifi’s beached Williams will be investigated after the session, which could yet change the order for the grid.

The was also a strange incident at the start of Q2, where the session was allowed to get underway despite Latifi’s Williams still being craned away.

So such an exciting and dramatic qualifying session. Congratulations to Lance Stroll in scoring his first pole position in Formula 1 and to Racing Point with a top three thanks to Sergio Perez. As for Max Verstappen, he was unlucky to miss out on P1 but his speed was really impressive following the practice sessions and the two segments in qualifying.

Turkish Grand Prix qualifying positions:
1 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:47.765
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:48.055
3 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:49.321
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:50.448
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:51.595
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:52.560
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:52.622
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:52.745
9 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:53.258
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:57.226
11 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:54.945
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:55.169
13 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:55.410
14 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:56.696
15 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:58.556
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 2:08.007
17 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 2:09.070
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 2:12.909
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 2:21.611
20 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 2:10.017

Hamilton victorious at Imola as Mercedes wins constructors’ title

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton beat Valtteri Bottas to victory in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, where Mercedes clinched their seventh constructors’ title, as a puncture took out Max Verstappen.

Hamilton easily survived a five-lap shootout to the finish following the Red Bull’s dramatic spinning retirement, racing away from Bottas, who had led the early stages before losing ground due to floor damage as he ran ahead of Verstappen.

At the start, Bottas comfortably led away on the long run to the Tamburello chicane, but Hamilton, although he reacted well, lost ground to Verstappen as they progressed through their acceleration away from the grid.

Verstappen was alongside by the time they arrived for the braking zone for the left first part of Tamburello and he easily moved into second place, with Hamilton even forced to defend slightly against Daniel Ricciardo, who had moved up fourth when Pierre Gasly was crowded out by the second Mercedes ahead on the approach to the race’s real first corner.

The top three quickly raced clear, much as they have at many other events this season, with Hamilton tracking Verstappen within a second early on, before falling back out of DRS range after he had reported difficulty following the Red Bull.

By the start of lap eight of 63, Ricciardo was already over ten seconds off first place, as the top three were able lap in the 1m19s bracket – more than a second quicker than the rest at this stage.

Bottas gradually edged his lead up to the two-second mark by the start of lap 16, where he was told to push as the soft-starting runners behind the top three began to pit to get rid of their suffering rubber.

Valtteri set a string of fastest laps in the one minute, 18 seconds, with Verstappen only able to reach that pace two laps later, with the Red Bull coming in at the end of lap 18 to take the hard compound tyres.

Bottas followed him in on the following tyre, easily rejoining in front, while Hamilton was told he would be extending his stint in a bid to jump Verstappen.

Hamilton had been nearly two seconds behind the Red Bull before it stopped, and so now Mercedes concentrated on how to get the world champion back into second place.

He produced a series of fastest laps, briefly reaching the one minute, 17 seconds, before Mercedes asked if he could go considerably longer as he reached the rear of the pack to lap the backmarkers.

Bottas, who was informed he had picked up floor damage on the left-hand side of his car in the second lap, possibly as a result of striking debris from another car, was just keeping Verstappen out of DRS range, but was regularly lapping slower than his teammate, before being told he was “one-second unsafe” to Hamilton on lap 30.

The lap before, Esteban Ocon had pulled over on the run to the Variante Alta with a suspected gearbox problem, and as the Renault was being recovered, race control opted to activate the virtual safety car.

This gave Hamilton the chance to pit and he rejoined easily still in the lead, with a near four-second margin to his teammate.

In the second half of the race, Hamilton quickly extended his lead over Bottas as he lapped in the low one minute, 18 seconds, reaching a 10-second advantage at the end of lap 40.

As Hamilton was untroubled up front, Bottas had to fend off Verstappen with his hobbled car.

He was able to stay ahead despite dipping his wheels into the gravel trap on the outside of the two Rivazza turns on lap 36, but when he went deeper into the gravel at the same spot six laps later, Verstappen got his chance to retake second.

He used DRS to close on the momentum-robbed Mercedes, and roared ahead around the outside on the approach to Tamburello at the start of the next lap.

Verstappen immediately reached Hamilton’s pace, but was unable to close his 13 seconds lead before he dramatically retired from the race on lap 51, when a sudden puncture of the right-rear of his car spun him off and out in the gravel at the Villeneuve chicane, coming to rest with his right-rear tyre destroyed.

Bottas pitted for used softs immediately as the safety car was called, but Hamilton was forced to wait an extra lap, and just rejoined ahead of his teammate, warned urgently to respect the delta time to avoid a penalty.

The race restarted on lap 58 – extended after George Russell crashed while following the safety car on the approach to the first part of the Acqua Minerali double-right, going into the wall on the outside of the track and out of P10.

This was such a disappointing result for Russell as he was about to score his first championship point for Williams. But alas, this crash under the safety car was heartbreaking.

Hamilton streaked clear from a 0.6 seconds lead at the restart, lowering the fastest lap considerably in the final tours, setting it for good on the last lap, to win by 5.7 seconds over Bottas and seal Mercedes’ seventh constructors title in succession.

In the pack behind, Ricciardo took what had at one stage looked like an unlikely best-of-the-rest finish in third for Renault.

The Australian was boosted up to the final podium spot by not stopping under the safety car, while Sergio Perez, who had risen up ahead of Ricciardo from P11 on the grid, starting on the advantageous mediums and running longer in the first stint as a result, did come in.

That dropped Perez back behind Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon, with Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris also taking fresh soft rubber during the interruption.

Kvyat used it best, shooting up to fourth when the race resumed – including a brave pass on the outside up the hill to the Piratella turn – but he could not cut into Ricciardo’s advantage and finished 0.8 seconds adrift at the flag.

Leclerc held onto fifth, with Perez sixth after passing Albon at the Villeneuve chicane and the Red Bull spinning down to last place on the exit.

Sainz was seventh ahead of his teammate Norris, with Alfa Romeo pair Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi rising up from P18 and last on the grid to take the final points positions.

Raikkonen ran longest of anyone before stopping, getting into the points after the two late crashes, with the safety car boosting Giovinazzi who had run the reverse strategy to his teammate, stopping early after starting on the softs.

Nicholas Latifi finished 0.7 seconds off the first point of his Formula 1 career in P11, leading home Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll and Romain Grosjean – who all stopped under the safety car while the Williams did not (Stroll knocking over his Racing Point jack-man as he slid into his pitbox with cold brakes).

The other non-finishers were Kevin Magnussen, who retired in the pits after reporting his car’s upshifts were giving him a headache, and Gasly, who also came into retire – in his case on lap seven

So congratulations to Mercedes in winning this year’s constructors title. That’s seven consecutive times in the turbo-hybrid era. Incredible achievement in this sport.

Imola race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:28:32.430
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 5.783
3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 14.320
4 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 15.141
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 19.111
6 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 19.652
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 20.230
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 21.131
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 22.224
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 26.398
11 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 27.135
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 28.453
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 29.163
14 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 32.935
15 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 57.284
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda DNF
– Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari DNF
– Esteban Ocon Renault DNF
– Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda DNF

Bottas takes pole position at Imola

Valtteri Bottas rises to the challenge to his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position for Formula 1’s 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, with Max Verstappen third despite needing a rapid Q2 spark plug change.

Both Mercedes drivers and Verstappen will start the race on the medium Pirelli, giving them an expected additional strategy advantage over the rest of the top ten runners in the race.

Hamilton had the advantage after the opening runs in Q3 had been completed on the soft compound, with his one minute, 13.781 seconds putting him 0.031 seconds clear of Bottas despite the defending world champion dipping his rear wheels into the gravel exiting the final corner.

But Bottas responded on the second Q3 run, beating Hamilton to the fastest time in the first sector by just over 0.1 seconds, and then holding on for the rest of the lap to claim pole by just a tiny margin on 0.097 seconds.

Verstappen took up third position but was 0.567 seconds, with his former Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly taking an impressive fourth for AlphaTauri.

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Renault, with Alex Albon sixth after a complex session containing a spin and a track limits violation – something that applied to several drivers down the grid.

Charles Leclerc was seventh for Ferrari’s third home race of the revised 2020 season, ahead of Daniil Kvyat and the McLaren duo Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, who rounded out the top ten in Q3.

In Q2, Sergio Perez was eliminated when Albon leapt up the order with his final lap in the middle segment, after the Red Bull driver had had to switch from the mediums to softs following a spin at the exit of the Variante Alta chicane.

Esteban Ocon took P12, ahead of Williams George Russell, who was P11 after he’d completed his final lap before being shuffled back.

But Russell will start ahead of Sebastian Vettel after the Ferrari driver lost his best time in Q2, his last flying effort, for running too wide out of Variante Alta – after he too had attempt to get through on the mediums in the early Q2 running.

Lance Stroll also lost a time for running wide at Variante Alta, but it was not his personal best in Q2 as he nevertheless ended up P15 and out.

In Q1, Bottas and Albon only jumped up the order on their final runs after losing earlier times for exceeding track limits at the exit of the Piratella corner at the top of the hill in the second sector, while Hamilton lost what would have been the segments best time for the same infraction late-on.

The Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were the highest placed of the drivers eliminated after the opening session, with the latter running wide into the gravel trap out of the second Rivazza turn – the track’s last corner.

Then came Kimi Raikkonen, who lost a lap time good enough to get through, which would have eliminated Stroll in Q1, for running wide out of exiting Variante Alta – although the Finn insisted over his team radio his “left wheels were on the kerbs”.

Nicholas Latifi and home hero Antonio Giovinazzi brought up the rear of the field, with the latter setting a personal best on his final run, which was still not enough to lift him out of last place.

So well done Valtteri Bottas in taking pole position from Lewis Hamilton. Hopefully he has the confidence to take victory and fight his Mercedes teammate to the championship.

Qualifying positions, Imola:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:13.609
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.706
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:14.176
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:14.502
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:14.520
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:14.572
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:14.616
8 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:14.696
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:14.814
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:14.911
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:15.061
12 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:15.201
13 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:15.323
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:15.385
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:15.494
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:15.918
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:15.939
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’15.953
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:15.987
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:16.208

Hamilton achieves record-breaking achievement with 92 race victories

Hamilton-Portuguese-GP-2020-winner

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his 92nd Formula 1 victory, becoming the most successful driver in the history of the sport.

As light rain fell on the first lap, Hamilton slipped off the track and fell behind his teammate Valtteri Bottas, but was able to recover to take his eighth win of 2020 and with it the outright record for Formula wins on 92, with Max Verstappen completing the Portuguese Grand Prix podium after clashing with Sergio Perez on the dramatic opening lap.

At the start, Hamilton held the lead off the line as Bottas made a slow getaway from the right-hand side of the grid, away from the racing line, which meant he dropped behind Verstappen into Turn 1.

But the Red Bull ran slightly wide on the exit, which allowed Bottas to move to the inside and pushed his way back into second at the tight, right-hand Turn 3.

Verstappen had to run so wide on the exit he lost momentum and Perez came alongside, with the pair making contact through the kink of Turn 4, which spun the Racing Point around and down to last – in a clash that the race stewards decided not worthy of investigation.

A few metres up ahead, Hamilton locked up into Turn 5 and slide wide, which allowed Bottas to nip by into the lead as they ran back up the hill into the second sector, where both Mercedes, struggling to fire up the temperature in their medium tyres as spots of rain began to fall, were passed by Carlos Sainz.

The McLaren driver had shot off the grid from seventh on the grid, using the grip advantage from his soft tyres and capitalising on the Verstappen/Perez collision before surging into the lead, with his teammate Lando Norris following him up the order from eighth to run fourth at the end of lap one.

Sainz’s lead was one-second at the end of lap one of 66 and he continued to pull away from the Mercedes drivers, bit-by-bit, over the next three laps.

But by lap five the Mercedes drivers had got their tyres up to temperature and back to quickly haul him back in, with Bottas sweeping back into the lead at the start of lap six around the outside line into T1.

Hamilton came by at the same place at the start of the next lap, with Sainz by this stage struggling for grip on his softs.

Verstappen had recovered from his first lap dramas to pass Norris and then follow the Mercedes cars back by Sainz by the start of lap eight, having set an early fastest lap as he began his fightback.

But by this stage Verstappen, also on the softs, was 4.4 seconds off the lead and he was not able to show better pace, quickly falling further way.

Bottas appeared to be able to hold Hamilton at bay, with the world champion complaining about the feeling of his left-front medium, the tyre under most pressure around Portimao, as they lapped clear of the rest in the low one minute, 22 seconds and medium-to-high one minute, 21 seconds.

But a series of fastest laps from Hamilton between lap 15 and 17 got him close to his teammate, and two laps later he was all over his title rival’s W11, getting back into the lead with a DRS run at the start of lap 20.

Bottas stole to the inside, running close to the pitwall, but it did not disrupt Hamilton’s run and he easily took first as he swept in Turn 1.

Hamilton rapidly pulled away from Bottas, getting his lead up to three seconds by the start of lap 23, with Verstappen nowhere near a position to threaten the Mercedes supremacy.

Verstappen then pitted to take the medium tyres, dropping back to sixth as he switched to the harder rubber, having had Charles Leclerc start to close in on his third position for he pitted.

Throughout the middle third of the race, Hamilton was able to lap consistently in the one minute, 20 seconds, with Bottas not able to get into that bracket until lap 34 – by which time Hamilton was eight seconds clear – with the Finn also reporting a dash warning to cool his car.

Mercedes had instructed Hamilton to stretch his opening stint on the mediums, which he did up to lap 40 with his lead was approaching 10 seconds, when he came into take hard tyres – despite insisting his existing tyres could go further.

Hamilton was told he had “cleared the field” and he duly pitted, retaking first when Bottas came in a lap later – with the second Mercedes also being given hards despite Bottas considering taking softs to run an alternative strategy to his teammate.

At the pit exit, which feeds directly into the high-speed Turn 1, Bottas had to slow to allow the fast-approaching Kimi Raikkonen and George Russell, which cost him time and he lost further ground coming out of the Turn 5 hairpin as he appeared to struggle for grip and tyre temperature.

Bottas’s issues meant Hamilton’s lead rose immediately to over 11 seconds, and a series of rapid times in the low one minute, 20 seconds took the world champion’s advantage towards 15 seconds.

He continued to pull away, with Bottas finally able to match Hamilton has they swapped what were then fastest laps of the race.

But Hamilton was then able to extended his gap further, despite reporting feeling some cramp in his right calf during the late stages, taking the fastest lap in the one minute, 18 seconds towards the end, as he surged clear to win by 25.5 seconds.

Verstappen briefly looked under threat from Leclerc when Ferrari stopped on lap 35, but the Monegasque driver could not compete on his hard tyres and a nine second gap between the pair became 30.8 seconds at the flag.

Pierre Gasly, who had been able to keep his softs alive early as the McLarens faded from their high opening positions, took fourth – triumphing in a firm fight with the recovering Perez in the final laps.

Perez had completed a long second stint on the mediums after stopping at the end of the first lap following his clash with Verstappen, but the red-walled softs he took for a third stint to the flag gave up and he was passed by the AlphaTauri when the leaders were on lap 64, a lap after Perez had defended late to the inside of Turn 1 in a move that is under investigation by the stewards.

Sainz was able to demote Perez to seventh a lap after Gasly had swept by in fifth around the outside of Turn 1, with the Renault pair Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo taking eighth and ninth.

Ocon had run until lap 53 on his starting mediums, with Ricciardo fighting Gasly in the middle phase of the race before dropping back and ending behind his teammate when he finally stopped.

Sebastian Vettel rose from P15 on the grid to take the final point in tenth.

Norris came home P13, having fallen down the order in a clash with Stroll, when the Racing Point driver had tried a wild move on the far outside into Turn 1 in the early stages.

The pair collided as Stroll turned in on the McLaren, for which he was given a five-second penalty for causing the collision, later getting the same time penalty for repeated track limits before he retired late-on due to damage he had picked up in the crash and subsequent high-speed spin.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in setting a new record in the sport with wins. He has a comfortable lead in the drivers’ championship and title number seven is within sights after achieving the most victories in Formula 1.

Mercedes-Portuguese-GP-2020-winner

Portuguese Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29:56.828
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 25.592
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 34.508
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:05.312
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1 lap
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1 lap
8 Esteban Ocon Renault 1 lap
9 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1 lap
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1 lap
11 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
12 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1 lap
13 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1 lap
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
17 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 2 laps
19 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 2 laps
– Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes DNF

Hamilton takes pole from Portuguese Grand Prix pace setter Bottas

Hamilton-qualifying-Portugal-2020

Lewis Hamilton achieved his 97th pole position in Formula 1, edging out his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas – who set the pace in every session leading up to the top ten shootout. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen tried his best and will start P3.

After a 30-minute delay to fix a drain cover, the teams were unleashed for the first-ever contemporary Formula 1 qualifying at the Algarve International Circuit.

In the top ten shootout, Bottas set the bar at one minute, 16.986 seconds, 0.047 seconds quicker than Hamilton. For the second runs, Mercedes switched to the medium tyres, with Hamilton taking provisional pole with one minute, 16.934 seconds, to pip Bottas by a tiny margin of 0.052 seconds.

Bottas struck back with a lap of one minute, 16.754 seconds, only for Hamilton to respond with one minute, 16.652 seconds on his second flying lap (Bottas only did a single run) that sealed pole position.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start third, having briefly split the Mercedes, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Sergio Perez qualified fifth for Racing Point, ahead of Alex Albon’s Red Bull. The McLarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were next up, ahead of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri followed by Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo who didn’t run after his Q2 off.

In Q2, Bottas was fastest on the medium tyres with one minute, 16.466 seconds, 0.358 seconds faster than Hamilton on similar compound. Verstappen was 0.572 seconds off in third, complaining of “no grip” despite using the softs, while Ricciardo escaped a spin at Turn 11 on his last lap to just make Q3.

Knocked out at this point were Renault’s Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll in the Racing Point, Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri, an impressive George Russell for Williams and a less impressive Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari, whose gamble to make Q3 on mediums, like teammate Leclerc, failed by a long way.

In Q1, Hamilton set the fastest time at one minute, 16.828 seconds, 0.051 seconds quicker than Verstappen, with Bottas a tenth off the pace.

Falling at the first hurdle were the Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, the soon-to-be-dumped Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, and Nicholas Latifi in the Williams.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with the pole position. That’s his 97th in Formula 1. Incredible qualifying performance from the six-time world champion. Feel sorry for Valtteri Bottas, who set the pace in every session leading up to Q3, but when it matter, his Mercedes teammate found that extra edge to go on top.

Portuguese Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:16.652
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:16.754
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:16.904
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:17.090
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:17.223
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:17.437
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:17.520
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:17.525
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.803
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault –
11 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:17.614
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:17.626
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.728
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:17.788
15 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.919
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:18.201
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:18.323
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:18.364
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:18.508
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:18.777