Hamilton overtakes Schumacher in number of wins, but can we really compare them?
TWO VERY DIFFERENT PERIODS BUT SIMILARITIES. It was expected and it is now a reality, Lewis Hamilton exceeded the total of victories in Grand Prix of Michael Schumacher with his 92nd victory this Sunday in Portimão. A first step before joining the German with a seventh world title at the end of the season … or even an eighth in 2021 if he decides to extend his contract with Mercedes, which has not yet been acquired. Two exceptional performances which will each mark their era but which, objectively, can hardly be compared even though the German and the British have some common features. After creating the feat to launch their respective careers, the title with Benetton for Schumacher, with McLaren for Hamilton, they both put a legendary manufacturer back at the top of the hierarchy. If Michael Schumacher personified the return to the forefront of Scuderia Ferrari in the late 1990s, Lewis Hamilton took over from the German to become the flagship of Mercedes, who returned with a team to his name in 2010. Like Fangio, Lauda, Prost or Senna, they are part of the greatest caste and will be remembered for that.
What first for Portimao?
VERY DISAPPOINTING. Built in 2008, the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve is a circuit that offered a new challenge to the drivers, just like the Mugello. But if the Grand Prix of Tuscany was the scene of a mad race, it was not the case of the Grand Prix of Portugal apart from a tricky first lap. With the current F1 cars, which are struggling to keep up, it is difficult to have a race rich in action with drivers who can compete on the track. But, with Mercedes on another planet, the suspense was not there if we except the charge of Pierre Gasly in the last laps to climb to fifth place. There was clearly something better to do for this return to Portugal 24 years after the last race in the country, but no reason to point the finger at the “roller coaster” route of Portimão.
What happened in the first round?
THE RAIN HAPPENED, BOTTAS AND HAMILTON DIDN’T FORCE. If the Mercedes did not miss their flight to keep the first two places, the Silver Arrows experienced a much more difficult end of the first round, leaving the lead to a surprising Carlos Sainz Jr. Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, shod of medium tires, therefore harder and more difficult to heat up than the soft ones used by the Spaniard and most of the drivers, showed extreme caution on a track that was singularly lacking in grip. The result was two places lost to the Briton when the Finn, after overtaking his teammate, moved back to second behind the McLaren driver. Once the track had become optimal again, the two Mercedes riders were able to give the full measure of their equipment and, after taking over the controls, quietly dominated the race for the result that everyone could expect and with the consequences that l ‘we know.
Too long a DRS zone?
YES ! For this first race in Portimão, the FIA has decided to offer drivers only one DRS activation zone, in the pit straight line. However, this zone encompassed almost all of this portion of the circuit, the activation point being placed 125 meters after exiting the last corner. However, the straight line of the pits being 969m long, the pilots were able to use the DRS in the race over nearly 800 meters. In other words, with the speed differential linked to the opening of the rear wing maintained over a relatively long period of time, a pilot had almost no chance of defending himself, except to use more than limit tactics, such as the “blow”. du dragon ”made famous by Simon Pagenaud in the last lap of the Indianapolis 500 in 2019 or to move in the braking zone as Max Verstappen has long been able to do. No doubt that if F1 were to return to Portugal, this area would be significantly reduced, even if it meant adding a second, shorter, between turns 4 and 5, towards the hairpin which was not sufficiently used as a overtaking.
Has Albon already lost his seat at Red Bull Racing?
THE COUPERET APPROACHES. After having worn out Pierre Gasly in less than half a season, Max Verstappen seems on the point of overcoming Alexander Albon. Arriving at Red Bull Racing a little over a year ago, the Thai has lost all the credit Christian Horner had given him. The boss of the Milton Keynes-based team has made no secret that an ultimatum has been given to former driver Toro Rosso, who has two races to raise the bar. However, in Portimão, Albon missed the boat. Starting sixth after a good qualifying session, the Thai quickly plunged into the hierarchy, pointing to 12th place after two laps without ever having been able to come back up, finishing the Grand Prix in this same position while his teammate took third place and that Pierre Gasly, author of a magnificent race, finished fifth. Everything suggests that there will be change at Milton Keynes in 2021 … with Christian Horner who agreed that he will no doubt have to look beyond a Red Bull sector dried up in talent to hire a driver of experience and many names keep coming back, including that of Nico Hulkenberg, who impressed during his three freelance years with Racing Point.