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92nd win makes ‘a very good day’After breaking Schumacher’s mark, Hamilton calls it a privilege to work with his Merc guys
Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and his father, the man behind his success, hug after he won the first Portuguese Grand Prix in 24 years yesterday at the Algarve circuit.
PORTIMAO (Portugal) • Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton became the most successful Formula One driver of all time in terms of race wins yesterday with a dominant 92nd career victory at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver, who took the chequered flag a massive 25.592 seconds ahead of second-placed teammate Valtteri Bottas, had equalled Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record 91 wins at the previous race at the Nurburgring.
Victory, along with a bonus point for fastest lap, stretched the Briton’s championship lead over the Finn to 77 points with five races remaining.
“You are re-writing the history books,” Mercedes technicians told Hamilton over the team radio, with Austrian team boss Toto Wolff saying: “Lewis, 92, 92”.
“I owe it all to these guys here and back at the factory,” said the six-time world champion, who was joined on the podium by Silver Arrows race engineer Peter “Bono” Bonnington after setting his biggest win margin this season.
“It’s just been such a privilege working with them. Today was tough but it was all about temperatures.”
Dutchman Max Verstappen finished third for Red Bull at the Algarve circuit that was hosting the country’s first grand prix in 24 years.
Hamilton lapped all but the three drivers behind him, but it had not looked so simple at the start when he dropped to third from pole position on a lively opening lap with occasional rain complicating matters.
Bottas, who had gone ahead, was then passed on lap 2 by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, who had started seventh on the soft tyres, with the Mercedes pair struggling to get heat into the medium rubber.
Verstappen had, meanwhile, dropped to fifth after tangling with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, who pitted and dropped to last but recovered to finish seventh.
Bottas retook the lead on lap 6 as the tyres fired up, with Hamilton moving up to second, and stayed ahead until his teammate overtook him on lap 20 to lead for the first time since the opening lap.
71 in 92
Grand prix victories Lewis Hamilton has came from driving for Mercedes.
- Four of the best
2008 BRITISH GP, SILVERSTONE
In his second season in Formula One, McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton put on arguably still his most dominant race in the sport with a virtuoso display in the rain.
He lapped everyone up to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in fourth spot and after finishing 1min 08.6sec ahead of BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld in second, he then said it was “by far my best victory”.
2014 BAHRAIN GP, BAHRAIN
Before the race, Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg was leading the championship, had qualified on pole position and set the fastest lap, but the German left here second best to Hamilton.
After winning the head-to-head fight, the Briton, who would become world champion for a second time that season, said it was “one of the best calculated races I’ve ever had”, and the victory helped set the tone for future battles down the road.
2018 GERMAN GRAND PRIX, HOCKENHEIM
This remains Hamilton’s only win when starting outside of the top 10. The Briton started in 14th place due to hydraulic problems in qualifying.
However, he sensed the “possibility to win when it started to rain”. The Briton, long known for his mastery in wet weather, made up ground until Lap 52, when he capitalised on leader Sebastian Vettel crashing out and went on to claim a “miracle” win.
2018 ITALIAN GP, MONZA
Ferrari had been faster than Mercedes all weekend at their home circuit, with Finn Raikkonen on pole and the home fans turned out in droves, expecting a one-two finish alongside title contender Vettel.
However, the Tifosi did not count on the German spinning out at the start, enabling Hamilton to stay on the heels of Raikkonen before passing him with eight laps left and taking the chequered flag with an 8.7sec margin – a win he hailed as “right up there”.
PORTUGUESE GRAND PRIX
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 29min 56.828sec *fastest lap
2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes +25.592sec
3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull +34.508sec
1 Hamilton 256pts
2 Bottas 179
3 Verstappen 162
1 Mercedes 435pts
2 Red Bull 226
3 Racing Point 126
Hamilton, whose father was at the circuit to see his triumph, reported cramp with seven laps to go but then proceeded to set a series of fastest laps in Portugal – the 24th different country in which he has won. He has won in more countries, including Singapore where he has four wins, than any other driver.
“I could never have dreamed of being where I am today,” he said after his eighth win of the season and 71st since joining Mercedes in 2013.
“I didn’t have a magic ball when I chose to come to this team and partner with great people, but here I am and what I can tell you is I’m trying to make the most of it every single day. It’s going to take some time to sink in. I was still pushing flat out coming across the line. I have got my dad and my stepmum here so it’s a very good day.”
His former team McLaren tweeted their congratulations, while Wolff told Sky Sports it was a remarkable achievement.
Hamilton also holds the record number of pole positions (97) and is odds-on to equal Schumacher’s record of seven championships.
“Who would’ve have thought when we started this project in 2013… it’s almost a surreal amount (of wins),” he said.
“It’s absolute passion and energy and everything he puts into the sport – and the talent and the ability. He’s just standing out.
“This season, he has ramped up his weekend. It’s a lot of learning, understanding the tyres and after the first couple of laps, he was just sitting comfortably – then he just ramps it up even more.”
On the likelihood of an extension, with Hamilton’s contract running out at the end of the campaign, Wolff joked: “It’s huge! We have to sell plenty of inventory just to come up with the money.”
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