The Formula 1 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix was held at the magnificent Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal. It was the 12th round of the 2020 F1 season, and the first time the race was held at the Algarve International Circuit.
The circuit was built in the year 2008 and F1 did a winter pre-season test in 2009. Formula 1 returned to Portugal for the first time since 1996 to hold this race. The track itself is interesting to drive with a long home straight, which is ideal for overtaking with a mix of elevation changes and gravel traps.
The teams with the highest tech resources usually benefit when coming to a track where they have never raced before. Getting the tyres up to the temperatures was the main talking point through the race weekend. The track layout and resurfacing made the job even more difficult, but Mercedes still dominated the weekend.
After taking the pole on Saturday, Hamilton drove a very commanding race with excellent tyre management skills to beat his teammate and take the win for the 92nd time in his career.
Pre-Race Preparations Thursday: Portuguese Grand Prix Teams Takes Off On Dry Zero-Grip Track
The race weekend started with dry and sunny conditions on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, however, rain crept in, spicing things up.
Roman Grosjean dropped the bombshell when he announced via Twitter that he would be leaving the Haas F1 team after this season. Kevin Magnussen followed his teammate with a similar tweet that he too would be exiting. Team boss Gunther later confirmed the forthcoming changes, saying that it was time for a fresh start in 2021.
Friday Practice: Algarve Circuit Likened To Tokyo Drift
The track felt like ''Tokyo Drift'' as expressed by Carlos Sainz during the FP1 session; such were the track conditions with zero-grip on a dry circuit. As the day passed by, the grip levels improved, and the teams managed to get useful data to prepare for the rest of the weekend.
Single lap pace data put Mercedes on top with Red Bull very close behind only 0.3 sec/lap slower on the qualifying trim mode. Renault and Ferrari equal on pace with a gap of 0.8 sec/lap to Mercedes. McLaren and Racing Point also equal on lap time and behind their direct competitors by a tenth.
Tricky track conditions made it impossible for the teams to gather the data for high fuel runs, and as a result, number-crunching was not possible.
Saturday Practice: Valterri Bottas Proves Quickest from FP1 through FP3
Valterri Bottas continued his impressive performance on Saturday and went quickest from his teammate and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Bottas also topped both the practice sessions during Friday. Pierre Gasly was the pleasant surprise of the session with the 4th quickest time in his Alpha Tauri and within three-tenths of Mercedes.
Alexander Albon, who is on a trial period by his Red Bull team, has been given the notice to step up his game with the next two races or be ready to be dropped by the team. Albon was 5th quickest but whether he was capable of sustaining that form until Sunday afternoon remained to be seen.
Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton Beats Bottas in Q3 and Takes His 97th Pole
The first session was delayed by 30 minutes due to some drain repair work being carried out at turn 14. Once the Q1 session got underway, the Mercedes of Bottas sped off the fastest from the rest of the grid. George Russell was the star of the first session by qualifying for top-15 shootout. The drivers who failed to make it into Q2 were two Haas drivers, both Alfa Romeo drivers and Williams Latifi.
The Mercedes duo and Charles Leclerc progressed into Q3 on a set of medium tyres giving them a strategic advantage on Sunday. Leclerc's teammate, on the other hand, failed to reach Q3 and was eliminated along with Ocon, Stroll, Russell and Kvyat.
Bottas took provisional pole position by half a tenth from his teammate who himself was only a tenth ahead of Max Verstappen. There is a reason Mercedes have won six consecutive constructor’s championships and are on course for the 7th. Both the Mercedes drivers bolted a set of new medium tyres for the final runs in Q3.
Bottas was fastest in FP1, FP2, FP3, Q1, Q2 but Hamilton went fastest when it mattered most. He took his 97th pole position with a time of 1m 16.652 sec, a tenth ahead of Bottas and 0.25 sec ahead of Max. Charles Leclerc with a fine 4th place on the grid, Perez 5th, Albon 6th, Sainz 7th, Norris 8th, Gasly 9th and Ricciardo 10th.
Sunday Race: Rain Spices Up Opening Lap as Lights Go Out on F1 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix
The drivers reported poor grip conditions on the way to the grid formation. Slight drizzle before the lights went out made the conditions even trickier, and as a result, it was a great opening lap of the race. Lewis made a powerful launch from the start and led into the first few corners.
Bottas, who after losing 2nd to Verstappen, regained the P2 slot. Around turn 7, he overtook his teammate, who was struggling with cold tyres. Verstappen tangled with Perez and ran wide, while Perez spun towards the barrier and dropped to the last place. Kimi Räikkönen made the best start out of the 20 drivers and was running 6th at the end of lap 1 after starting 16th.
Carlos Sainz in his McLaren was flying after firing up his soft tyres and took the lead of the race while going through turn 5 on lap 2. This was the second time this season that a McLaren lead the race. The first was at the Italian GP. On lap 6, after Mercedes had fired up the harder medium compound tyres, Bottas retook the lead from Sainz and disappeared into the distance along with his teammate.
Stroll again misjudged the overtaking move and collided with Lando Norris. Both had to make unscheduled pitstops to change broken front wings. Stroll received a 5 second time penalty for causing the collision.
Hamilton was keeping his tyres in better conditions; then Bottas, who was struggling due to excessive tyre graining, overtook him. Max swapped from softs to medium tyres on lap 23 and was out of the contention of the race. Hamilton pitted on lap 40 for hard tyres and reemerged into the lead of the race. Bottas followed the same on lap 41 and swapped to hard tyres as well.
Lance Stroll and Roman Grosjean both were handed 5 sec time penalties for exceeding the track limits more than four times.
Sergio Perez performed well that afternoon after the initial collision with Verstappen but lost two places during the last five laps to Gasly and Sainz, finishing the race in 7th spot.
At the front, Hamilton grabbed the extra point for the fastest lap and crossed the chequered flag to set a new record of 92 race wins. Bottas and Verstappen completed the podium positions.
Charles Leclerc finished 4th where he started ahead of Gasly, Sainz, Perez, Ocon, Ricciardo and Vettel.
Let’s Travel Back to Italy for the F1 2020 Emilia Romagna GP!
F1 travels back to Italy for the third race in the country this season. The race will be held at the most fearsome and iconic Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in the town of Imola. The event will also be a two-day event with no Friday running.