Brilliant Lewis Hamilton wins Portuguese Grand Prix to extend championship lead

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Phil Duncan
·35-min read
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British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes-AMG Petronas celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One Grand Prix of Portugal at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve near Portimao, Portugal, 02 May 2021 - Gabriel Bouys/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes-AMG Petronas celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One Grand Prix of Portugal at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve near Portimao, Portugal, 02 May 2021 - Gabriel Bouys/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Lewis Hamilton said he will be sick of the sight of Max Verstappen by the end of the year following a victory his former rival Nico Rosberg labelled as “phenomenal” in Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix.

Hamilton was staring down the barrel of defeat after a sloppy restart dropped him to third in Portimao.

But the British driver pulled off two supreme moves – first on Verstappen, and then a beleaguered Valtteri Bottas in the other Mercedes, to win for a 97th time and lay down a statement of intent in his quest for an unprecedented eighth world championship.

It is the third time in as many races Hamilton and Verstappen have gone wheel-to-wheel, with the former striking back after his rival’s triumph in Imola to move eight points clear in the standings ahead of next week’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland leads Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands during the Portugal Formula One Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit near Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, May 2, 2021 - AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland leads Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands during the Portugal Formula One Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit near Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, May 2, 2021 - AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

“What a phenomenal race by Lewis,” said Rosberg, the only man in the last seven seasons who has been able to stop Hamilton from winning the title.

“Max is starting to get a better understanding of just how good Lewis is. He has to do everything to beat him in the championship and at the moment it is 2-1 Lewis.”

Hamilton missed out on pole to Bottas by just seven thousandths of a second, and by lap seven he was third.

The safety car was deployed to deal with the debris caused by Kimi Raikkonen running into the back of Alfa Romeo team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi and Hamilton was caught napping by Verstappen at the restart.

But he was back ahead of the Red Bull just four laps later. In hot pursuit of Bottas, Verstappen made a mistake at Turn 14 allowing Hamilton to move into the Red Bull’s slipstream.

Racing at 200mph, Verstappen, aggressively, but fairly, moved to his right and squeezed Hamilton towards the pit wall.

However, the world champion held his nerve to slide up the inside of his rival at the opening bend. Verstappen eyed up Hamilton three corners later, but the world champion planted his Mercedes on the apex and Verstappen was forced to yield.

Hamilton was soon crawling all over the back of Bottas. One wondered whether the Mercedes pit wall would order the Finn to move aside with Verstappen in striking range.

But perhaps mercifully for team principal Toto Wolff, Hamilton took the decision out of his hands with a dazzling pass on lap 20 of 66.

Bottas defended the inside line heading into the first corner. Hamilton followed in the tow of his Mercedes team-mate before suddenly darting to the left in the braking zone and passing a dumbfounded Bottas around the outside.

F1 driver standings - top six

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Such was Hamilton’s speed advantage, he moved two seconds clear of Bottas inside just four laps and from there he never looked like losing.

Bottas, who later fell behind Verstappen, is already 37 points adrift of his team-mate the title race.

“None of us here are under any illusions as to just how hard it is, how close the battle is, and how we are all giving absolutely everything in our day-to-day lives to be the best prepared and to deliver,” said Hamilton, 36.

“The pressure is immense. Of course it is great when you have a race like today where you are able to overtake and capitalise on the small margins.

“But at the same time, Max gave us a great run for our money. We will continue to keep it clean and on the edge. It is down to the respect we have for one another and that is what makes great racing and great racing drivers.

“It is going to be like this for the rest of the season. It is a great fight between Mercedes and Red Bull and it is clear we will be pushing right until the last race. We will be sick of each other by the end of it.”

Responding to Rosberg’s comment, Verstappen, 23, said: “I don’t need Nico to make me realise how good Lewis is. I know he is very good otherwise you don’t win so many championships.”

Verstappen probably should be a point closer to Hamilton in the standings. On the final lap, he bolted on fresh tyres in pursuit of a bonus point for the fastest time, but his effort was chalked off for exceeding track limits. It is on fine margins that championships are won.

Sergio Perez finished fourth for Red Bull ahead of Lando Norris, who delivered another fine drive to take fifth. The young Briton is third in the standings.

04:31 PM

Thanks for joining me today

Decent race, but nothing on what we had in the previous two races. Hamilton did what Hamilton does and now has an eight-point championship lead. Verstappen not quite there. Better from Bottas and Pérez. Norris doing what Norris does, again.

If you refresh your page you should be able to see Phil Duncan's race report.

We'll be back next week for the Spanish Grand Prix, but stay tuned for more reaction and analysis from Telegraph Sport tonight and tomorrow.

Enjoy the rest of the Bank Holiday weekend.

04:10 PM

Is Max Verstappen making too many mistakes?

It's a poser. They have been small, really, but they have been costly. Overtaking off the track in Bahrain, making a mistake in qualifying in Imola and again here. Small mistake cost him a place to Hamilton when he was closing up on Bottas as well. Track limits cost him on the fastest lap this time, too.

That said, Hamilton has made one big error in crashing at Imola, which barely cost him at all. So, you do have to look at that as well.

04:04 PM

Driver of the day?

I mean, Hamilton was excellent once again. Nico Rosberg on Sky Sports F1 said that Verstappen is starting to realise how difficult it will be to beat Hamilton. Yep. Norris with an excellent fifth, but I think that is probably where he should have finished. Likewise Leclerc, Ocon, Ricciardo, Gasly. Who else out-performed their machinery? Mick Schumacher in 17th, I reckon. Ahead of Mazepin by 67 seconds! And ahead of a Williams.

Formula One F1 - Portuguese Grand Prix - Algarve International Circuit - Portimao, Portugal - May 1, 2021 Haas' Mick Schumacher in action during qualifying - REUTERS/JUAN MEDINA 
Formula One F1 - Portuguese Grand Prix - Algarve International Circuit - Portimao, Portugal - May 1, 2021 Haas' Mick Schumacher in action during qualifying - REUTERS/JUAN MEDINA

03:56 PM

Constructors' standings after three rounds

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03:51 PM

Not a brilliant race today

But decent enough. On-track battles with all top three, Verstappen passing Hamilton and Bottas. Hamilton passing Bottas and Verstappen. Beyond that there was not much, however. Mercedes and Hamilton just had the pace in their pocket. Red Bull not quite there but certainly not too far away.

03:49 PM

Verstappen reacts to second place

I tried to put the pressure on Valtteri, but in the end I think we just lacked a little bit of pace out there today.

Think he means for fastest lap? Or does he mean Hamilton? I don't think second is a terrible result. Mercedes looked the better package overall in the race this weekend. A bit of damage limitation. Eight points the gap between Verstappen and Hamilton and 18 points between Red Bull and Mercedes in the teams' championship.

03:46 PM

Verstappen is informed he lost his fastest lap bonus point

"That's a bit odd as they were not [measuring] track limits at 14,". Not sure if that's true.

03:45 PM

Updated driver standings: Top 12

Hamilton extends his lead. Not exactly "healthy" at this early stage but it'll do.

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03:43 PM

Verstappen LOSES his fastest lap point to Bottas

He exceeded track limits (again), so his lap does not count.

03:42 PM

Portuguese GP: Classification

  1. HAM - 25pts

  2. VER - 18pts

  3. BOT - 16*pts

  4. PER - 12pts

  5. NOR - 10pts

  6. LEC - 8pts

  7. OCO - 6pts

  8. ALO - 4pts

  9. RIC - 2pts

  10. GAS - 1pt

  11. SAI

  12. GIO

  13. VET

  14. STR

  15. TSU

  16. RUS

  17. MSC

  18. LAT

  19. MAZ

OUT: RAI

*fastest lap bonus point

03:40 PM

LEWIS HAMILTON WINS THE 2021 PORTUGUESE GRAND PRIX

He didn't have it easy. He had to fight for it early but overtook Verstappen and Bottas to do it. He had the pace throughout, conserved his tyres and takes yet another win. Many, many of them so far. Approaching 100 now...

Verstappen crosses the line and takes second, including the fastest lap of the day for a bonus point. Bottas third, Perez fourth. Norris fifth.

03:38 PM

FINAL LAP

Well, we know who is going to win. Ricciardo up into ninth. Decent recovery from 16th. Bottas posts the fastest lap with just one lap to go...

Will he keep it? Verstappen goes quickest in the first sector...

03:37 PM

Lap 65 of 66 - Verstappen pits

Now they are going to try and get the fastest lap point...

Quick stop and he is out again, albeit on used softs compared to Bottas's fresh softs. Will it matter? Who knows? It means Hamilton is going to win by nearly half a minute, whatever... Not that it was in doubt.

Hamilton wonders if he should too... but decides against it. Sound choice.

03:35 PM

Lap 64 of 66 - Bottas going to pit and go for the fastest lap point

Should be a slam dunk, really. A fresh set of softs. Slight risk there in that a slow pit stop could have cost him third place. But it's not slow and he keeps third. A much better weekend from him. And Pérez, too.

03:34 PM

Lap 63 of 66 - Latifi locks up at turn three

And Schumacher sails by. Good move and an impressive weekend. Ricciardo within a second or so of Carlos Sainz, gets DRS on the Ferrari...

03:34 PM

Lap 62 of 66 - Mick Schumacher closing up on Latifi

Can he get him?

03:33 PM

Lap 61 of 66 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. HAM

  2. VER +4.9

  3. BOT +10.6

  4. PER +38.7

  5. NOR +49.4

  6. LEC +52.3

  7. OCO +60.2

  8. ALO +64.6

  9. SAI +69.6

  10. RIC +70.7

Pérez told to go for the fastest lap with full battery. He holds it currently.

03:31 PM

Lap 60 of 66 - Stroll gets Vettel for 13th

Another tough weekend for Aston Martin. Norris has been in a race of his own for much of the day in fifth. Which is as good as it could get, really in the McLaren. Really solid race again.

03:29 PM

Lap 59 of 66 - What's happening at the front, then?

Not a great deal. Hamilton holding onto a five second lead, Verstappen holding onto the same lead over Bottas. Bottas says he's slow on the straights but he is 26s ahead of Pérez at the moment

03:28 PM

Lap 58 of 66 - Mick Schumacher closing in on Latifi for 17th

Finishing ahead of him would be a feather in his cap, as it were. He's destroyed Mazepin this weekend. I thought Haas might be well adrift of everyone else for the entirety of the year but this is encouraging. Ish.

03:26 PM

Lap 57 of 66 - Alonso closing on on compatriot Sainz for eighth

Nice work.

Hamilton leads by 5.1s and seems to be comfortable here...

03:25 PM

Lap 56 of 66 - Pérez sets the fastest lap

Seems it was a temp sensor error which cost Bottas time. Seems to be fine now. Slim hopes of getting second now, though...

03:24 PM

Lap 55 of 66 - Bottas with a problem?

He was 1.5s down on the last lap and has lost two seconds nearly in the first sector... is this a terminal problem? Is it a problem at all? He seems to be okay now, whatever the problem was. But Verstappen has been giving some room now.

03:23 PM

Lap 54 of 66 - Verstappen and Hamilton exchanging quickest sectors

But the gap is still nearly five seconds. Mercedes with the better car at this track, I think we can comfortably say. Second then perhaps not such a bad result for Verstappen. If he can keep his car there, that is...

03:20 PM

Lap 53 of 66 - Five second time penalty for Mazepin

Fair. No excuses. He is currently last by nearly an entire minute.

Hamilton now in the lead and five seconds ahead of Verstappen. It's now or never for the Dutchman, isn't it? Bottas has not been able to close up a great deal and is still hovering around 1.4-1.6s behind Verstappen.

03:18 PM

Lap 52 of 66: "Blue flags" Hamilton says as he approached Pérez for the lead

"No. You're racing him, he's yet to stop."

Meanwhile Alonso gets his best moves out to overtake Daniel Ricciardo around the outside of turn one. Into ninth now. Ocon in the sister car is seventh. Much better from Alpine.

Pérez will surely stop and change for soft tyres now and try and get the fastest lap point.

03:17 PM

Lap 51 of 66 - Full order as Hamilton gets Perez for the lead

  1. HAM

  2. PER

  3. VER

  4. BOT

  5. NOR

  6. LEC

  7. OCO

  8. SAI

  9. RIC

  10. ALO

  11. GAS

  12. VET

  13. GIO

  14. STR

  15. TSU

  16. RUS

  17. LAT

  18. MSC

  19. MAZ

OUT: RAI

03:16 PM

Lap 50 of 66 - Hamilton complaining about his tyres again

Which means all is good with them, in code. Hamilton now 1.3s off Pérez.

03:15 PM

Lap 49 of 66 - Incident between Mazepin and Pérez being investigated

Should be a clear penalty for Mazepin. You have to let the leaders through. Simple. You can't cut across them as if they are not there. Pay attention.

03:14 PM

Lap 48 of 66 - Bottas looking likely to close onto Verstappen in the next couple of laps

Mercedes working their hard tyres much better than the Red Bull. Hamilton three seconds off Pérez in the lead now.

03:13 PM

Lap 47 of 66 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. PER

  2. HAM +4.7

  3. VER +8.5

  4. BOT +10.5

  5. NOR +43.6

  6. LEC +46.2

  7. OCO +50.7

  8. SAI +52.3

  9. GAS +54.5

  10. RIC +56.7

Suppose this means Pérez will have Hamilton behind him in the next couple of laps. Think the pace differential is too much. Pérez won't be able to keep him behind all that long.

03:12 PM

Lap 46 of 66 - Mazepin just chopped right across Pérez at turn three

He was being lapped, Pérez had to get on the brakes and locked up. He would have had blue flags and clearly was not paying attention. Rubbish, but that is exactly how he has been. Back to the bad old days of pay drivers. That cost Pérez about 1.5s if not more, I reckon.

03:10 PM

Lap 45 of 66 - Bottas closing in on Verstappen

Just two seconds the gap now. If he gets within a second that should be a simple overtake, given how much quicker the Mercedes is on the straight. Perez told he is "plan A+10" which means... well, who knows. It means he might stop in the next seven or eight laps, I guess.

03:09 PM

Lap 44 of 66 - Mercedes looking better at the moment

Toto Wolff on the radio to Bottas telling him to get on with it. Ocon around the outside of Sainz and takes seventh from Carlos Sainz. Pérez's pace is still decent, you know... relatively.

03:07 PM

Lap 43 of 66 - Bottas sets a new fastest lap

He's three seconds behind Verstappen, who is 3.7s behind Hamilton, who is 9.9s behind Pérez. A safety car in the next couple of laps would work out well for Pérez...

03:06 PM

Lap 42 of 66 - Slow stop for Ricciardo

Nothing disastrous but far from ideal. 4.8s, so probably two seconds or so cost. Missed his marks in the pit box.

03:05 PM

Lap 41 of 66 - Hamilton is 3.3s ahead of Verstappen

Not a great deal of progress being made by the Red Bull. Still, if second is the best Verstappen can get then second it will have to be. It's better than third.

03:03 PM

Lap 40 of 66 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. PER

  2. HAM +11.9

  3. VER +15.0

  4. BOT +18.6

  5. RIC +27.0

  6. ALO +29.7

  7. NOR +43.4

  8. LEC +46.8

  9. SAI +48.6

  10. OCO +49.6

03:02 PM

Lap 39 of 66 - Pérez leads by 12.4s

But he has yet to stop. I can't see them using him as a blocker here, he's too far ahead, I think. Would potentially ruin his race, depending on pace.

Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional Do Algarve on May 02, 2021 in Portimao, Portugal. - Clive Mason - Formula 1 
Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional Do Algarve on May 02, 2021 in Portimao, Portugal. - Clive Mason - Formula 1

That said, he could go long enough to go onto the quicker soft tyres for the final... 20 laps?

03:01 PM

Lap 38 of 66 - Where does Hamilton end up here?

Ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, of course. But by how much? He has backmarkers to negotiate. Verstappen is still 3.5s down the road in the end. Which is closer than he was before and with no Bottas between him. Sainz seems to let Leclerc through for ninth place.

02:59 PM

Lap 37 of 66 - Bottas keeps ahead of Verstappen at the pit exit

But he's all over the track at the start of the lap and Verstappen nabs him in the middle of the lap! That'll do...

Hamilton in to the pits now...

02:58 PM

Lap 36 of 66 - Bottas about to pit now

Obviously. It's not a brilliant stop. A second slower than Verstappen. He is also onto the hards. Has Verstappen got him?

02:57 PM

Lap 35 of 66 - Verstappen pits

The trigger has been pulled. A brand new set of hard compound tyres are fitted and quite quickly... a 2.3s stop. Could the undercut work here? Verstappen has pretty clean air ahead of him as he exits but can he get the tyres working quick enough? He locked up heavily going into the pits but hopefully no penalty...

02:56 PM

Lap 34 of 66 - Hamilton leads by 3.8s

Verstappen stays 1.3s behind Bottas. Ocon gets Gasly for 11th. Pérez still going quite well, nine seconds off Verstappen and lapping a tenth or so quicker. I wonder if he could be a blocker for Hamilton and Bottas if they decide to go long. Decent stint from the Mexican here, after getting a bit stuck behind Norris.

02:53 PM

Lap 33 of 66 - Order at half distance

  1. HAM

  2. BOT

  3. VER

  4. PER

  5. RIC

  6. ALO

  7. STR

  8. NOR

  9. SAI

  10. LEC

  11. GAS

  12. OCO

  13. VET

  14. GIO

  15. MSC

  16. TSU

  17. LAT

  18. RUS

  19. MAZ

OUT: RAI

02:52 PM

Lap 32 of 66 - Well, we are just waiting for the trigger to be pulled by someone in the top three

Very much stasis, with Hamilton just edging out a tenth here or there every lap. Verstappen drops out of DRS range...

02:51 PM

Lap 31 of 66 - Verstappen closer to Bottas this time

But still not close enough. Wonder if it's an aero or an engine thing that means the Mercedes is quicker on the straights.

Meanwhile, Hamilton extends his lead even more. 3.7s now. That's not huge but it is pretty comfortable.

02:49 PM

Lap 30 of 66 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. HAM

  2. BOT +3.1

  3. VER +3.7

  4. PER +12.8

  5. RIC +32.8

  6. ALO +34.7

  7. STR +40.2

  8. NOR +48.6

  9. SAI +50.6

  10. LEC 53.0

Ricciardo and Alonso yet to stop. Pérez dropping a little behind Verstappen now but not by a great deal.

02:48 PM

Lap 29 of 66 - Verstappen worried about third gear

Says it's lagging. Hamilton with another fastest lap to extend his lead to three seconds. This is all very Hamilton and all very familiar.

02:46 PM

Lap 28 of 66 - Top three all lapping remarkably similarly

Bottas is now 2.6s behind. Verstappen just half a second to a second behind him but cannot seem to get a big enough tow on the pit straight to make it work.

02:45 PM

Lap 27 of 66 - Hamilton's pace is okay now

Just sets another new fastest lap, a 1.22.138s. Now he is in clean air and Verstappen is not.

Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 leads Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional Do Algarve on May 02, 2021 in Portimao, Portugal - Lars Baron/Getty Images
Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 leads Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional Do Algarve on May 02, 2021 in Portimao, Portugal - Lars Baron/Getty Images

02:43 PM

Lap 26 of 66 - "You've got the pace here," Verstappen is told

He cannot get quite close enough on the pit straight, though. Hamilton mentions his tyres again but seems to be lapping okay. Are Red Bull holding something in reserve? A longer first stint? Leclerc pits and goes onto fresh hards. Need to see his pace. Verstappen is closer to Bottas this time around... a little.

02:42 PM

Lap 25 of 66 - Hamilton extends his lead to two seconds

Verstappen still within DRS range of Bottas but a little further back this time. Leclerc is probably stopping Red Bull from pitting at the moment, but perhaps not for too long. Think Verstappen has to try something here.

02:40 PM

Lap 24 of 66 - Verstappen getting ever closer to Bottas

Half a second now. Good exit at turn 14/15 is necessary.

02:40 PM

Lap 23 of 66 - Hamilton leads Bottas by 1.6s

Verstappen now within DRS range of Bottas but does not get close enough to even think about having a look. Perez's pace looks good, in fairness. Still eight or so seconds off the back of Verstappen. Sets the fastest second sector time.

Norris pits to cut off Sainz and manages it... just! Sainz all over the back of him.

02:38 PM

Lap 22 of 66 - This is where it gets interesting on the strategy

Sainz is the first man to pit, he started on the softs and goes onto mediums that should last until the end. He comes out behind George Russell in 15th. The gaps are not gigantic. Leclerc is in play if the frontrunners were to stop now. I don't think they will, mind you.

02:37 PM

Lap 21 of 66 - Hamilton: "Tyres are pretty shot"

Not surprised. He was behind Bottas for a fair amount of time. Within a second for about 10-12 laps. If Mercedes go onto fresh soft tyres they have to make them last a long time.

02:36 PM

Lap 20 of 66 - Hamilton takes the lead!

He came from a long way back, with DRS and dived around the outside and stuck with it! Bottas tried to defend on the right of the track but opened it up for his team-mate, leaving the racing line. Verstappen now closing up on Bottas...

Hamilton pulls out a whole second by the end of the lap. Red Bull's undercut may not be so powerful as they are likely to go straight onto the hard tyres for the rest of the race.

02:34 PM

Lap 19 of 66 - Full order

  1. BOT

  2. HAM

  3. VER

  4. PER

  5. NOR

  6. SAI

  7. LEC

  8. OCO

  9. GAS

  10. RIC

  11. VET

  12. GIO

  13. ALO

  14. STR

  15. TSU

  16. RUS

  17. LAT

  18. MSC

  19. MAZ

OUT: RAI

02:33 PM

Lap 18 of 66 - Pérez is in fresh air now

And has just set the fastest time in sector one. He is eight seconds behind Verstappen, so all isn't lost just yet. Hamilton closer to Bottas this time...

02:32 PM

Lap 17 of 66 - The second stint is the crucial one, of course

Hamilton has a bit of a moment and does not get DRS on the pit straight this time. He gets a big tow, however. Ricciardo is lining up Vettel for the final points spot. And he gets it on the pit straight. Into the points.

02:31 PM

Lap 16 of 66 - Bottas lead Hamilton by 0.5s

Hamilton makes up 0.2s through the first sector, but loses in the middle sector. Such is life. Such as it ever was. Not sure this is great for Hamilton's tyres, but he isn't backing off. Verstappen is lurking 1.4s behind, so he can't.

Algarve International Circuit - Portimao, Portugal - May 2, 2021 Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action - REUTERS/Juan Medina
Algarve International Circuit - Portimao, Portugal - May 2, 2021 Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action - REUTERS/Juan Medina

Hamilton has DRS again on the pit straight but Bottas is far enough ahead and is driving fairly well. Hamilton by no means all over the back of him... yet. But not far away.

02:29 PM

Lap 15 of 66 - Hamilton continues to close up on the pit straight

But the twistier middle section it is harder to stay so close behind. At least without damaging your tyres. Verstappen not really able to stay on the back of this fight. I wonder if that is him trying to save his tyres. Pérez back up into fourth now. Pérez had complained about Norris passing him earlier off the track.

Russell has dropped back down to 16th... just ahead of Latifi in the other Williams.

02:27 PM

Lap 14 of 66 - Top 10 and gaps

  1. BOT

  2. HAM +0.8s

  3. VER +2.0s

  4. NOR +7.4s

  5. PER +8.3s

  6. SAI +11.0s

  7. LEC +12.7s

  8. OCO +14.5s

  9. GAS +15.2s

  10. VET +15.9s

02:26 PM

Lap 13 of 66 - Hamilton within a second of Bottas

This could work out better for Verstappen. Think Bottas could get pretty fighty in defending the lead. Or at least he should. Verstappen now within 1.3s but Hamilton a little further back on Bottas as he gets in the dirty air of his team-mate.

02:25 PM

Lap 12 of 66 - Verstappen: "We're just a sitting duck on the straight"

In fairness, it was largely caused by a poor exit out of the final couple of turns. Hamilton looking very racy here.

Formula One F1 - Portuguese Grand Prix - Algarve International Circuit - Portimao, Portugal - May 2, 2021 Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action during the race - REUTERS/Juan Medina/JUAN MEDINA 
Formula One F1 - Portuguese Grand Prix - Algarve International Circuit - Portimao, Portugal - May 2, 2021 Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action during the race - REUTERS/Juan Medina/JUAN MEDINA

02:23 PM

Lap 11 of 66 - That is far from ideal for Verstappen

Can be patient and take the place again, though. He had a little go again at turn three but Hamilton blocked the way.

Verstappen now two seconds behind Hamilton. Hamilton within a second of Bottas in the lead.

02:22 PM

Lap 10 of 66 - Verstappen gets an awfully strong tow behind Bottas on the pit straight

He will have DRS next time but is RIGHT up to his rear wing in the middle sector. Hamilton a little further behind but can still close up on Verstappen if he gets a good exit. But the Verstappen>Bottas pass for the lead looks much more likely here. In fact, it looks a certainty here given how close he is... or was!

Verstappen got out of shape at the end of the lap and would have been ready to pounce for the lead but instead it is Hamilton who takes second place from Verstappen!

02:20 PM

Lap 9 of 66 - Hamilton with the fastest lap that time around

Verstappen only 0.7s behind Bottas and Hamilton within a second of Verstappen ahead. DRS will be available shortly. Should make it interesting...

02:19 PM

Lap 8 of 66 - New order as race restarts

  1. BOT

  2. VER

  3. HAM

  4. NOR

  5. PER

  6. SAI

  7. LEC

  8. OCO

  9. GAS

  10. VET

  11. RIC

  12. GIO

  13. ALO

  14. STR

  15. RUS

  16. TSU

  17. LAT

  18. MSC

  19. MAZ

OUT: RAI

Russell and Stroll having a right ding-dong battle.

Verstappen got a a much better restart and even had to get out of it in turn one. Bottas went well enough. One down, one to go for the Dutchman.

02:17 PM

Lap 7 of 66 - SC in... we restart!

Bottas backs the pack up and gets the jump quite well. Verstappen gets alongside Hamilton on the outside of turn one and takes him! Bold move! He went for it and it stuck! Great move. Was Hamilton caught napping there? A little.

Norris takes Perez for fourth as Sainz slips back down to sixth...

Russel down to 14th, Ricciardo up to 11th.

02:15 PM

Lap 6 of 66 - SC in this lap, rolling restart

Bottas leads Hamilton, Verstappen, Sainz and Pérez. Sainz on the soft tyres.

02:14 PM

Lap 5 of 66 - SC continues around

Not sure why. Suppose there could be some debris somewhere else, but still. This seems a bit odd...

02:12 PM

Lap 4 of 66 - They are going to start using the main straight again

So why don't they just bring the safety car in, then? Bottas told his rear brakes are very hot. He's not in dirty air. Well, other than behind the safety car...

SC should be in shortly, surely?

02:11 PM

Lap 3 of 66 - Pérez was mugged off at the start

Sainz's Ferrari had him before turn one. Daniel Ricciardo has made up three places and has Alonso behind him. No word on the damage for Giovinazzi, though they would have brought him in if there would have been a slow puncture or something similar.

02:08 PM

Lap 2 of 66 - Order under SC

  1. BOT

  2. HAM

  3. VER

  4. SAI

  5. PER

  6. NOR

  7. OCO

  8. LEC

  9. GAS

  10. VET

  11. RUS

  12. GIO

  13. RIC

  14. ALO

  15. TSU

  16. STR

  17. LAT

  18. MSC

  19. MAZ

Cars will be going through the pit lane while they clear the debris on the straight as the red Mercedes waits at the end of the pit straight.

02:07 PM

Lap 2 of 66 - Raikkonen loses his front wing down the straight

Carbon fibre and debris on the pit straight for sure. He heads straight into the gravel and to a marshal's post and is out of the race but this will be an early Safety Car...

No idea what happened there. There must have been contact somewhere. He was right behind his team-mate. Yep, Raikkonen drove clean into the back of Giovinazzi.

02:05 PM

THE 2021 PORTUGUESE GRAND PRIX IS GO!

Both Mercedes make good starts with Bottas leading Hamilton at turn one, Verstappen behind in third but Pérez has slipped down to fourth after a poor start. He seems to be struggling badly with grip.

Lots of cars running wide as Bottas makes nearly a second on Hamilton early on, Verstappen not too far away. Ocon stays in sixth but he has competition from Norris who goes around the outside superbly at turn 12!

02:04 PM

Here we go...

Who will lead into – and out of – the first corner. It's a place where overtaking is possible, especially on the first lap...

02:01 PM

FORMATION LAP IS GO

All away cleanly at 3pm on the dot.

02:00 PM

Last year the soft tyre runners made great progress at the start

Sainz in particular. He is the highest starting driver on those tyres this year. Chances of leading by lap three again?

01:59 PM

Starting tyre types outside the top 10

Only Raikkonen and Stroll start on the softs, everyone else on the mediums. Nobody on the hards which means it must be a rubbish race tyre.

01:58 PM

Hamilton said it was windy...

...but the official information from F1 says it's just 1km/h. Which is quite still. Reckon where they measure it must be in a cupboard or something...

The overall conditions are good. 20C air temperature, 40C track temperature.

01:53 PM

Bottas is on pole, does he need a win?

He is in dire need of a good race. Ideally a win, but even being up there and in contention would be something. Pérez needs a clean weekend and a solid fourth and within 15-20s of Verstappen would not be a terrible result. What can Alonso do from down in 13th? Alpine have been much improved this weekend but Ocon is the one getting the most out of the car. We'll find out in the next couple of hours.

01:49 PM

Predictions?

Would much rather be in Mercedes' position rather than Red Bull's. I think Ferrari have an outside chance of an upset. In any case, if they stay fairly on the pace of the leaders Leclerc could be an ointment in the strategy eye of the top two teams.

I think Verstappen is going to be BOLD at the start.

01:44 PM

15 or so minutes until lights out

A word again for Mick Schumacher. Think he has had a fairly decent start to life in F1. Shoved it into the barriers weaving to get heat into his tyres under the safety car at Imola, but has been impressive in qualifying in comparison to Mazepin, which is all he can do. Young Mick is not renowned as a brilliant qualifier either. But he looks like he belongs at the moment. Shame his car isn't a bit quicker.

Haas driver Mick Schumacher of Germany and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco, left, during a news conference ahead of the Portugal Formula One Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit near Portimao, Portugal, Thursday, April 29, 2021 - Gabriel Buoys/Pool via AP
Haas driver Mick Schumacher of Germany and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco, left, during a news conference ahead of the Portugal Formula One Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit near Portimao, Portugal, Thursday, April 29, 2021 - Gabriel Buoys/Pool via AP

Not sure he'll be able to do much starting from 19th today, but you never know. He might be able to beat a Williams or an Alfa if all goes well.

01:37 PM

Potential strategies from Pirelli

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Starting on the mediums in the top 10 are the top four and Charles Leclerc. Interestingly, Mercedes have no fresh hard tyres for use in the second stint and Red Bull have no new soft tyres. Divergent strategies likely, then.

01:30 PM

The final starting grid

The grid for today's race - FIA.com
The grid for today's race - FIA.com

We will have a little about strategy in a minute. Should be a simple one-stopper, though. Should... but obviously any stoppages and safety cars will put an end to that.

01:25 PM

Here's how the teams are shaping up in qualifying trim so far this year

This is calculated by taking each team's quickest lap of a weekend in relation to the overall quickest lap across a weekend, which is expressed as a percentage. The quickest lap would be rated at 100.000%.

Mercedes leading the way at the moment, Red Bull not too far behind and... yeah, very close in the midfield behind them. And the midfield is even closer to the front than it has been for some years, too. Encouraging for the season overall.

01:21 PM

Constructor standings

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Williams still pointless. So, what chance of their first points since Germany 2019? Russell is in 11th, yes, and with a free choice of starting tyres. But he does have a fair few other drivers in quicker cars starting behind him...

Every time he's had a shot of points in a Williams he's had a big error. Both times at Imola, funnily enough.

01:17 PM

A few standout performers from qualifying yesterday

Bottas, when he needed it, beating Hamilton. Carlos Sainz beating Charles Leclerc for the first time this season. Esteban Ocon doing the same to Fernando Alonso for the second time in a row. Sebastian Vettel in Q3 for the first time in an absolute age, and miles ahead of Lance Stroll in the other Aston Martin. And let us not forget George Russell, only 0.06s away from making it into Q3 and starting in 11th.

Williams' British driver George Russell drives during the first practice session of the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao on April 30, 202 - AFP via Getty Images)/GABRIEL BOUYS 
Williams' British driver George Russell drives during the first practice session of the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao on April 30, 202 - AFP via Getty Images)/GABRIEL BOUYS

01:09 PM

Driver standings after two rounds: Top 12

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01:04 PM

Hamilton a little concerned about the wind

Will affect everyone, obviously.

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01:02 PM

The track for this weekend

Just an hour until the lights go out.

12:58 PM

Qualifying times

  1. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1min 18.348secs

  2. Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:18.355

  3. Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:18.746

  4. Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:18.890

  5. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spa) Ferrari 1:19.039

  6. Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:19.042

  7. Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:19.116

  8. Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:19.306

  9. Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:19.475

  10. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:19.659

  11. George Russell (Gbr) Williams 1:19.109

  12. Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:19.216

  13. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:19.456

  14. Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:19.463

  15. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:19.812

  16. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:19.839

  17. Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:19.913

  18. Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:20.285

  19. Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haas F1 1:20.452

  20. Nikita Mazepin (Raf) Haas F1 1:20.912

11:25 AM

Good afternoon F1 fans

And welcome, once again to our race day liveblog. Today it's the turn of the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, just outside of Portimao. We went nearly a quarter of a century without a grand prix in Portugal, but here we are with two in a little over six months. The last edition was a pretty decent race on a super slippery surface, so let us hope today's edition is the same. Or at least similar. It might struggle to match the drama of the opening few laps, however, when Carlos Sainz's McLaren came through the pack and took the lead, quite unexpectedly.

Yesterday's qualifying was an "interesting" one. As has been the case so far this season, after third practice we have still been in the dark as to who has the best package. If indeed there is such a thing any more. The same was true on Saturday, with both Red Bull and Mercedes candidates to take pole position. This time it was our third polesitter of the season, with Valtteri Bottas denying championship favourites Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Pole position qualifier Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP looks on in parc ferme during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional Do Algarve on May 01, 2021 in Portimao, Portugal - Dan Istitene - Formula 1 
Pole position qualifier Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP looks on in parc ferme during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional Do Algarve on May 01, 2021 in Portimao, Portugal - Dan Istitene - Formula 1

In second qualifying, Hamilton set a blistering pace with a lap time of 1:17.968, with only Bottas within half a second of it, and even then only just. But when it came to final qualifying it was all a bit of a mess. Mercedes switched out to the medium tyres whilst Red Bull used the softs. Verstappen made an error with a snap of oversteer at turn four but still went quickest. However, his lap was soon deleted to a track limits infringement. Bottas pipped Hamilton by 0.007s on the first runs, but there was surely more time to be found? Or so we thought...

By the second runs the winds had picked up and the track conditions had also possibly worsened, with hardly any driver improving and Hamilton and Bottas not getting close to their first-run times. Verstappen could get nowhere near either Mercedes, in truth. The mistake on the first run cost him – even with it he would have been quickest. Track limits is his downfall again.

You could tell that he was pretty gutted afterwards. He probably should have had pole in Imola and here, too. Instead, he starts third (though at least on the clean side of the track), behind both Mercedes cars and alongside his team-mate Sergio Pérez.

It's lights out at 3pm BST, and who knows what will happen? Hopefully something of the magnitude of the first two races of the season. Can Red Bull fight their way back. Can Bottas get a much-needed win? Will Hamilton and Verstappen clash on track again? We'll be here to find out...