Lewis Hamilton knows how to run to attack and also defend himself, take cover and show that he is touched, half injured, and turn suddenly to throw himself at the neck of his victim, who normally remains paralyzed, without response. That dynamic is what took place this Sunday in Portimão, where the current world champion starred in an authentic exhibition, both in speed and at a strategic level. A waste of power that led him to accumulate his second victory of the course and allowed him to catch some air in front of the Formula 1 World Championship, after the close duel held with Max Verstappen in the first two stops of the calendar. The Dutchman was farruco in the first laps of the race, but the punch that his Red Bull exhibited in both Bahrain and Imola was not enough to measure himself short with Hamilton on the slides of this spectacular Algarve circuit. Verstappen held the pull and crossed the line in second, while Valtteri Bottas did it in third and was again in evidence, after having started from pole position. Fernando Alonso finished eighth, ahead of Carlos Sainz, who made it eleventh.
Mercedes seems to have half corrected the potential deficit caused in its car by the tweaks to the aerodynamic restrictions applied in this year’s regulations. On a route as particular as that of Portugal, where the tremendous unevenness expose the cars to the brutal gusts of wind that usually hit the area, Mercedes took oil despite having lost that untouchable status that since 2014 has led it to chain seven consecutive doublets. Hamilton won after hitting Verstappen twice (lap 11) and his workshop neighbor (on the 19th), this last one of those overtaking that will be part of the summary of the year: out of the blue, in the first corner and on the outside.
Once he was in front, the rider from Stevenage (Great Britain) was able to manage the difference and the wear of the tires, low in this case – the one-stop test was proposed -, before going under the flag of frames with almost half a second of advantage over Verstappen, who the stewards took away the fastest lap for exceeding the track limits. The rivalry between Red Bull and Mercedes goes to the extent that both manufacturers fight to the point where it takes the fast lap on Sundays. Bottas visited the garages with three laps to go to fit his car with a set of new compounds, rejoined the track and gave his car a full spin. But Mercedes’ plan opened the door for Red Bull to do the same immediately after with Mad Max, with whom everything indicates that Hamilton will be waxing throughout the season for the happiness of the fans, who have long awaited a high-voltage duel like this.