Lewis Hamilton emerged victorious from a thrilling three-way fight for the lead in the early stages of Sunday’s Portuguese GP to claim the 97th victory of his remarkable F1 career, having passed both Max Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas

It was a great race for those who starred, while some drivers will be thankful for another race next weekend to try and quickly move on from their respective lows.

Here are five winners and five losers from the third round of the 2021 F1 season…

Winners: 

Lewis Hamilton 

Despite giving it their all, Verstappen and Bottas ultimately had no answer to Hamilton in what marked another supreme showing from the seven-time world champion on race day in Portimao. 

Hamilton bounced back from narrowly losing to Bottas in the battle for pole on Saturday to turn in another vintage Sunday drive, despite having to fight back from a poor Safety Car restart early on that saw him drop behind Verstappen. 

But Hamilton pulled off a pair of spectacular passes on Verstappen and Bottas within 10 laps of each other to wrestle his way back into a lead that he would never relinquish thanks to his excellent race pace. 

The win gives Hamilton an eight-point championship lead over Verstappen after the opening three races. 

Lando Norris 

Lando Norris followed up on his fourth place finish in Bahrain and podium in Imola with another superb drive in Portugal to take fifth and continue his outstanding start to the 2021 F1 season. 

A stunning around-the-outside pass on Esteban Ocon saw Norris move into sixth on the opening lap, and he underlined his speed with further passes on former teammate Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez

While keeping Perez’s faster Red Bull behind proved too great a task for Norris, a strong P5 capped off another standout performance from one of the drivers of the season so far. 

Norris’ latest ‘best of the rest’ finish for McLaren ensures both he and the team remain in third place in both world championship tables. 

Fernando Alonso and Alpine 

Fernando Alonso bounced back from a disappointing qualifying performance in style, largely thanks to a brilliant long first stint on the Medium tyres. 

The returning two-time world champion then came alive in the final stint with a gladiatorial like showing, dispatching the likes of Sainz as he charged to eighth place, just one position behind his Alpine teammate Ocon who had started sixth. 

All in all it was a great day for Alpine, with the rebranded French squad moving up to fifth place in the championship thanks to a second consecutive two-car points haul and its best result of the season so far. 

Mick Schumacher 

On paper, 17th might not look like a result to see a driver be considered a ‘winner’, but Haas rookie Mick Schumacher enjoyed a great weekend in just his third grand prix start in F1. 

Schumacher comprehensively outperformed struggling teammate Nikita Mazepin all weekend. The reigning Formula 2 champion was nearly half a second quicker than the Russian in qualifying and also outpaced him in the race, finishing two places ahead. 

An opportunistic late pass on Nicholas Latifi’s Williams capped off a fine weekend for the young German. 

Portimao

Complaints about the Algarve circuit’s low-grip surface early on in the weekend were quickly forgotten about following an entertaining race. 

For two years in a row now, Portimao has provided a great spectacle with some excellent duels and thrilling racing. Sunday’s latest edition threw up a swashbuckling three-way battle for the lead and some great battles further down the field. 

“What a great track!” exclaimed Hamilton after the race. “It really enabled us to fight close in that first stint. 

“I think that’s really what the fans want and that’s definitely what I want from a racing point of view. This track is really great because you can take different lines and different corners, a bit like Austin. So it was really awesome."

We’d like to think Portugal has staked a claim for a more permanent slot in the future F1 calendar and would love to see it return as a more regular fixture. 

Losers: 


Valtteri Bottas 

It was all going so well for Bottas until it all went wrong - again. 

Having claimed a surprise pole after usurping both Hamilton and Verstappen in qualifying, the Finn had hoped to recover from a disastrous Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in style, but it was not to be. 

Bottas made the best start to maintain position at the start and did a good job keeping Hamilton behind initially, but falling behind both Hamilton and Verstappen seemed inevitable given he didn’t have the same raw pace when it mattered. 

Poor tyre warm up out of the pits cost him as he lost out to Verstappen and was forced to settle with third, missing the chance to strike back and potentially thrust himself into title contention. 

On today’s evidence, he looks very much like being cast into a supporting role along with Sergio Perez. 

Carlos Sainz 

Carlos Sainz’s great qualifying lap was undone by Ferrari’s gamble to switch onto Medium tyres while drivers behind him took on Hards at their respective stops. 

It failed to pay off and the Spaniard ended up tumbling down the order, finishing 11th at the flag after being passed by the likes of Alonso and Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri late on. 

A frustrating end to a weekend in which Sainz ultimately made a promising step forward at his new team. 

George Russell and Williams 

Points continue to go begging for Williams and George Russell. 

Another sensational qualifying lap put Russell 11th on the grid and left him confident he could finally break his duct for the Grove squad on a Sunday. 

Much like at Mugello last year, an awful Safety Car restart saw Russell drop several positions that he was never going to be able to recover from amid a messy lap that ended in a massive lock up into Turn 1 while defending his position.

A P16 finish was not the result Russell was hoping for after the events of two weeks ago at Imola. 

Kimi Raikkonen 

The Portuguese GP was far from Kimi Raikkonen’s finest hour in F1.

Raikkonen may be F1’s most experienced driver but he made a rookie-like mistake as he clumsily ran into the back of Alfa Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi on the main straight at the start of the second lap, losing his front wing in the process. 

The Finn’s miserable race continued for a few more forgettable seconds before he ended up in the Turn 1 gravel - marking his first DNF since the 2020 season-opening Austrian Grand Prix. 

Nikita Mazepin 

Another race - and weekend - to forget for Nikita Mazepin, who endured a woeful outing in Portugal. 

Nowhere near the pace of his teammate Schumacher, Mazepin was left in a race on his own at the back but he still managed to frustrate drivers. 

Having already annoyed Latifi for a block in qualifying, he got in Perez’s bad books for holding the then race leader up during Sunday’s grand prix. 

Mazepin was given the first penalty point on his F1 licence and also received a five-second time penalty for ignoring blue flags on his way to finishing last.

 

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