The Algarve International Circuit in Portimao hosted its first-ever Formula One Grand Prix in 2020.
The front of the grid was filled with the usual suspects of Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in P1 and P2, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third on the grid, whose teammate Alex Albon took off from P6.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc started fourth, after making the most of the underperforming SF1000 ahead of Sergio Perez in the Racing Point at P5.
Further down the grid, Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri managed to qualify in P9 ahead of the two Renaults.
Daniel Ricciardo started the race in P10 after missing Q3 in qualifying following a Q2 spin into the barriers.
At lights out, Hamilton shot into the lead with Bottas dropping behind Max Verstappen into turn one.
Verstappen and the Racing Point of Sergio Perez made contact coming into turn four, ensuring an early pit stop for the Mexican driver.
Hamilton had a lock-up on turn 5 allowing Bottas to take the lead, but after struggling to get heat into the tyres, both Mercedes were passed by the McLaren of Carlos Sainz.
By Lap 8, normal service was restored on the track, with a one-two for Mercedes and Verstappen chasing them down in third, with Sainz falling back into P4 ahead of his teammate Lando Norris who was swiftly overtaken by Leclerc.
Leclerc continued to push the Ferrari to the limits and made his way up to fourth getting around Sainz to chase Verstappen’s Red Bull for a podium place with 5s between them on Lap 16.
Verstappen began struggling with his tyres on Lap 14 announcing over the radio that the front right was dead.
Bottas was now leading the race 2.5 seconds from Lewis Hamilton who was also struggling with his tyres.
After a battle with Lando Norris on Lap 18, Stroll spun off the track having made contact with the McLaren, rejoining with a broken front wing as the nightmare continued for the British team.
Following an investigation by the stewards, Stroll received a 5-second penalty for causing the collision and later received another 5-second penalty for exceeding track limits.
Hamilton took his familiar position out front after making his way past his Finnish teammate on turn one of lap 18.
At the halfway mark of the Portuguese Grand Prix, Hamilton remained well ahead of his teammate Bottas by 8.08s after the Finnish driver complained about a lack of grip from his tyres.
Further back in third position, 26s adrift was Leclerc who remained ahead of Verstappen by 10.1s.
Meanwhile, a battle for the final points position on track was ensuing between Kimi Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz with Sainz landing 10th by Lap 34.
Albon was now running outside the points in 12th and had just been lapped by race leader Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen overtook Leclerc on Lap 35, as the Monegasque driver pitted, and was running 31s behind the two Mercedes.
By Lap 45 Verstappen was beginning to close the gap to Bottas which sat at 8.3s while Leclerc remained in 4th with Perez and Ocon following just 4s behind.
Daniel Ricciardo’s attempts to keep Pierre Gasly at bay came to an end on Lap 46 as the AlphaTauri made its way up into seventh behind the Racing Point of Sergio Perez.
While Verstappen remained comfortably in third, 13s ahead of Leclerc’s Ferrari, the second Red Bull of Albon was just .9s behind Raikkonen as he pushed to get himself up into the points.
With 15 laps to go in today’s race, a one-two finish for Mercedes looked likely as Verstappen chased 9s behind Bottas, and Leclerc remaining 16s astray.
Charles Leclerc was running solidly in fourth by Lap 53, while his teammate Sebastian Vettel trailed behind just outside the points in eleventh.
Lance Stroll’s Racing Point retired from the race, damage to the car making it more and more difficult to handle and the team opted to pull him out of the race early.
His teammate Sergio Perez remained on track, running in sixth place.
With five laps to go Verstappen remained 10.4s behind Bottas who had a gap of 19s to his leading teammate Lewis Hamilton, Leclerc remained in fourth followed by Perez in the Racing Point, who had Gasly on his tail for fifth.
Sainz, who was leading the race for a number of laps at the beginning, now sat in seventh ahead of the two Renaults in eighth and ninth.
Crossing the finish line after the day’s battle, Hamilton set a new Formula One record with 92 race wins.
His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas crossed the line in second.
Max Verstappen finished in third with the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in fourth, and Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri in fifth.
Carlos Sainz in the McLaren finished sixth followed by Sergio Perez in the Racing Point and the two Renaults of Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo in eighth and ninth respectively.
The final points position that day went to the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel who so far had only scored one point this season.
Speaking about his record-breaking win in 2020, Hamilton said; “Today was tough, it was all about temperatures.
“That was something with the setup, I pre-empted. We got some spitting right at the start, I had a good start but then into Turn Seven had a huge oversteer moment.
“I should have tried to defend from Valtteri but I thought I’d come back later on, and that was what I was able to do.
“I could never have dreamed of being where I am today. I didn’t have a magic ball when I chose to come to this team and partner with great people, but here I am and what I can tell you is I’m trying to make the most of it every single day.
“It’s going to take some time to sink in. I was still pushing flat out coming across the line, I’m still very much in race mode mentally.
“I can’t find the right words at the moment.”
The 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit takes place this weekend, with lights out on May 2 at 3:00 pm.