Some sublime overtaking helped the seven-time world champion recover from a poor start to score the 97th victory of his F1 career and take his second win from the first three races of the season following Verstappen’s triumph last time out at Imola.

Verstappen finished second after passing Valtteri Bottas at mid-distance, with the Mercedes driver unable to convert his first pole position of the season as he completed the podium in third despite encountering a late engine issue.

Sergio Perez was a distant fourth in the second Red Bull ahead of Lando Norris, who continued his outstanding start to the season for McLaren in P5.

Charles Leclerc finished four seconds adrift of Norris’ McLaren as the lead Ferrari to beat the Alpine duo of Esteban Ocon and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso in seventh and eighth respectively.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo turned in an impressive recovery drive to battle his way into the points in ninth following his shock Q1 elimination in qualifying, while Pierre Gasly pulled off a late pass on Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari to snatch the final point for AlphaTauri in 10th.

A good start saw Bottas maintain the lead over Hamilton and Verstappen when the lights went out, but the race was soon interrupted by an early Safety Car when Kimi Raikkonen went off after losing his front wing in a clumsy clash with Alfa Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi on the main straight.

An excellent piece of opportunistic driving helped Verstappen mug Hamilton at the restart, but the Briton fought back to repass the Red Bull driver on Lap 11.

Following a small error from Verstappen coming out of Turn 14, Hamilton used the benefit of DRS to get a great run on the Dutchman along the main straight before diving down the inside at the first corner to grab second.

Verstappen immediately looked to get back past at Turn 3 but Hamilton kept him at bay by cleverly running his rival out of road in a demonstration of some close but fair racing.

Hamilton then set about hunting down Bottas, and after spending several laps sitting within DRS range of his teammate, the reigning world champion struck on Lap 20, pulling off a stunning around-the-outside overtake on Bottas at Turn 1.

Red Bull pulled the trigger by pitting Verstappen first, and a quick stop enabled Verstappen to get within striking distance of Bottas after the latter made his own pit stop a lap later.

Despite initially retaining track position over Verstappen, Bottas, struggling on cold tyres, got out of shape at Turn 3 and Turn 4, allowing Verstappen to capitalise with his tyres fully up to temperature as he dived past the Finn into Turn 5.

By this stage, Hamilton had pulled a comfortable buffer over his rivals on his way to an important win that sees him move eight points clear of Verstappen in the championship standings heading into next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

FULL RACE RESULTS FOR THE 2021 F1 PORTUGUESE GRAND PRIX.

 

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