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F1 Portuguese Grand Prix: Hamilton holds off Verstappen again

Portimão, Portugal, May 2/21 (GRW): Despite the promise of Max Verstappen’s fast lap in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton came from a second-place start to overcome both his teammate Valtteri Bottas and Verstappen to win his second Grand Prix in three starts this year. Verstappen finished second, 29 seconds behind after pitting for soft tires to record the fastest lap on the as the checker came out after 66 laps. Bottas, who had fallen to third behind Verstappen also tried for the fastest lap with a lap to go but he was bested by Verstappen and he had to settle for a third-place finish after starting on the pole.

In the final Q3 round of qualifying, Verstappen actually set the fastest lap but it was disallowed because he went too far over the track limits. He only managed one more attempt and, on that final lap, he failed to make a perfect alp and he had to settle for a third-place starting position behind Bottas and Hamilton.

Most of the race’s action took place in the early laps. On the first lap, Verstappen made a run at Hamilton but he failed to get past. Meanwhile Kimi Räikkönen tangled with his Alfa-Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi, damaging the front of his car. He was unable to make it back around to the pits and this brought out the Safety Car.

When the track went green again, Verstappen go the jump on Hamilton and he took over second place briefly until Hamilton was able to get back past him into second on lap 11 of the 66 lap race. On lap 15, Sergio Perez, in the second Red Bull, passed Lando Norris, moving up into fourth place behind Verstappen. Now Hamilton bore down on his teammate and he passed Bottas to take over the race lead on lap 20 – setting up the podium finishing order of the race.

A number of those behind the front four started to make their next round of planned pit stops but the front-runners waited a bit longer looking to make this pit stop their final ones of the race. They started to come in for tires when Verstappen pitted on lap35. Bottas came in a lap later but he failed to overcut Verstappen and he dropped back to third place again. Hamilton pitted the next time around and he had enough of a lead over Verstappen that he easily held on to his lead ahead of the Dutchman.

Actually, at this point, Perez had yet to pit, so he had inherited the race lead over Hamilton, Verstappen and Bottas. Perez continued to lead until he pitted for tires on lap 51, restoring the order at the front to Hamilton, Verstappen and Bottas.

After that in the remaining laps, the race wound itself out to the seemingly inevitable conclusion. Hamilton had earlier set the race’s fastest lap but in the final two laps first Bottas and then Verstappen were able to pit for soft tires and make a run at the fastest lap – with Verstappen claiming the point with a fastest lap set on the very last lap as the checker came out.. [Correction: The TV broadcast credited Verstappen with the fastest lap but the final results give the credit to Bottas.]

After the race, Hamilton said, “That was such a tough race, physically and mentally, just keeping everything together. It was very windy out there, obviously, so it was easy to put a foot wrong. I didn't quite get as good a start as Valtteri, then lost out on the restart which was not good. I was not happy about that, naturally. But that race was satisfying, when you're in third and have to overtake two amazing drivers - amazing! Having races like that is what I live for.

“The [championship] gap between us all is so close and every single point is going to count this year. I love the battle, I've loved it since my days in karting and as a team, we can't leave any stone unturned - we've got to continue to push this car, squeeze everything out of it.”

• Click HERE for the Race Results + Points

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