Despite starting second on the grid and being passed by Max Verstappen in the early stages of the race, Lewis Hamilton delivered a stern message to his title rival to claim the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The Brit drove relatively undisturbed after getting past his Red Bull rival and teammate Valtteri Bottas, with his biggest troubles coming from a lack of grip from the Pirelli tyres. Although Hamilton made it clear more than once on the radio that he wasn’t all that happy with his tyres, the Mercedes star extended his lead at the front by recording fast lap after fast lap.
In the end Verstappen will be happy to have finished second, as he never really put his title rival under threat in the closing stages of the race. While it means Hamilton extends his lead in the standings the Dutchman limited the damage as best he could by finishing ahead of Bottas, who took third. Sergio Perez and Lando Norris rounded out the top five.
Mercedes surged off the grid to keep their position over Verstappen, while Perez was passed by Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari for fourth as the Mexican struggled for grip.
The relative calm ended after just one lap as Kimi Raikkonen clipped teammate Antonio Giovinazzi’s left rear tyre down the front straight, causing the loss of his front wing and forcing the Finn to retire. As a result the safety car was brought out to clean up the debris on track.
The action resumed on Lap 7 with Verstappen getting the best of Hamilton around the outside of Turn 1, snatching second place from his championship rival. While it looked as though the Dutchman would then go and challenge Bottas for the lead, a mistake in the final corner a few laps later opened the door for Hamilton to retake second place heading into the first corner.
Elsewhere Norris and Perez made their way past Sainz to take fourth and fifth, with Charles Leclerc getting past Esteban Ocon for seventh. Daniel Ricciardo, who started 16th, quickly made his way up to 11th just behind Sebastian Vettel.
Perez eventually found his way past Norris for fourth as the leading trio of Bottas, Hamilton and Verstappen started to break away from the rest of the pack, with the Finn controlling the pace.
That all changed on Lap 20 as Hamilton played his angles right and surged past a defending Bottas around the outside of Turn 1. It was all the more impressive considering the Brit told Mercedes on the radio that his tyres were shot, before clocking a 1:21.995 on Lap 28 – the fastest lap up to that point.
Further down the grid Leclerc began to show good pace after switching to hard tyres, closing up on teammate Sainz for ninth as several drivers in the middle of the pack, including the front three, continued to put off their pit stops.
Verstappen was the first to blink at the end of Lap 35, switching to hard tyres with Bottas coming in the following lap. The Finn initially came out in front, but on cold tyres he was no match for the charging Dutchman who moved past the Mercedes driver. Hamilton eventually pitted as well, maintaining his gap over Verstappen with Perez in P1 having not pitted yet.
Perez stayed out longer than the top three, eventually giving way to Hamilton before pitting and rejoining in fourth as the closing stages of the race played out with the top three miles ahead of the Mexican.
Further down the grid Norris stayed in front of Leclerc to take fifth, while Ocon – who finished seventh – was joined in the points by teammate Fernando Alonso, who worked his way through the field to finish eighth after a late pass on the fading Sainz, who finished outside the points after being passed by Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly in the closing stages.
In the end there was no denying Hamilton from his 97th career victory to sit eight points clear of Verstappen in the drivers’ standings.
|2||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull-Honda|
|11||55||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Ferrari|
|12||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari|
|13||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes|
|14||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes|
|20||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari|