A record once thought to be untouchable has now finally been broken. Lewis Hamilton has set the new all-time F1 win record after emerging victorious in the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday, Oct. 25.
Despite a rocky start, Hamilton put on a masterclass to claim his 92nd career F1 checkered flag. It puts Hamilton in sole possession of the all-time wins list, surpassing Michael Schumacher’s record set back in 2006.
Hamilton passed teammate Valtteri Bottas on lap 20 and never looked back, cruising to a margin of victory of over 25 seconds. The outcome was never in doubt down the stretch.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took the final spot on the podium.
Charles Leclerc was able to race his way to a fourth-place result with Ferrari while Pierre Gasly completed the top-five finishers. Despite taking an early lead in the race by starting on soft compound tires, Carlos Sainz Jr. faded back to a sixth-place finish. Sergio Perez recovered from a first lap spin to claim seventh and the Driver of the Day Award.
The Race… And A F1 Win Record
Like any brand new circuit, the drivers all had to go through some growing pains in Portugal. The challenge was amped up due to the threat of rain and a light shower that hit during the first handful of laps.
Hamilton started out strong, getting the jump on Bottas. Perez got a superb jump on the softs, climbing up the leaderboard before contact with Verstappen sent him spinning.
But he wasn’t the only one flashing speed early. As the rain fell, Hamilton started to slip, allowing both Bottas and Sainz to get past. As Sainz was rocking the soft compound tires, he blew past both Mercedes cars to lead for a few laps.
Eventually, though the softs wore down on the McLaren. The Mercedes, who started on mediums, regained their speed and rocketed past Sainz.
The new track was especially tough on the backmarkers. After hours of repairs were done during yesterday’s qualifying sessions to repair manhole covers, track limit breachers were plentiful. Nicholas Latifi, Kevin Magnussen, Stroll and Romain Grosjean were among those assessed warnings for continuous track limit breaches.
On lap 20, Hamilton got back around Bottas and then set sail. Gapping Bottas by almost three seconds in one lap, Hamilton put on yet another of his world-class drives.
Behind him, a bad day for Lance Stroll got even worse. In an identical situation to what occurred between Stroll and Verstappen yesterday, Stroll cut down on Norris, sending the Racing Point entry spinning. The FIA slapped Stroll with a five-second penalty for his antics while Norris was furious after having to pit with damage. The Canadian’s disastrous day concluded with a DNF.
At the drop of the checkered flag, history would be made. Hamilton, who was in a league of his own most of the day, would finally take sole ownership of the title “winningest driver in F1 history.” Having dominated the sport since joining Mercedes in 2013, it was a well-earned record for arguably the sport’s best driver of all-time.
- If anyone had counted Sergio Perez out after his lap 1 spin, they were very, very wrong come the checkered flag. Contact with Verstappen sent Perez around and all the way back to last place. Suffering no damage, however, Perez and his Racing Point team got to work. Using different strategies and relying on Perez’s skill behind the wheel, they managed to work him back to seventh by race’s end. Salvaging what nearly became a double DNF for Racing Point, the team recovered in what was the one of the best drives all day long.
- Charles Leclerc and his Ferrari team have struggled all year. In what can only be described as a “hot mess,” it seems nothing has gone right for Ferrari. However, the team saw a glimmer of hope today after Leclerc qualified and finished P4. That was Leclerc’s first top-five result since August, when he logged a podium and a fourth during the Britain doubleheader. As Ferrari looks to improve, the performance from Leclerc can only give the Tifosi hope of a dramatic turnaround.
- Carlos Sainz Jr. is due to drive at Ferrari next year, but until then, he has been driving the wheels off of his McLaren. Gaining six positions on the opening lap, Sainz led his second Grand Prix of the year before fading. Despite clocking in sixth at the checkered, his amazing drive was one that makes Ferrari fans excited to see what Sainz can do in a higher-funded ride next season.
Questions? Where Does The F1 Win Record Go From Here?
- How many more wins will Hamilton achieve? Records are meant to be broken, but unlike Schumacher, it seems Hamilton isn’t slowing down. With 92 wins under his belt and at least one more year at Mercedes, it’s completely possible Hamilton can surpass the 100-victory mark. It’s a feat nobody has ever accomplished. Hamilton said during the F1 pre-race show that he doesn’t see himself doing too many more years as a driver but wants to make use of the time he has left. Hamilton is a generational talent in the sport and fans are eager to see just how much damage he can do next year in the quest for 100.
- What the heck is going on with Lance Stroll? The youngster over at Racing Point has not had a good last three Grand Prix events. Stroll hasn’t completed a full race since his podium in Italy, crashing out at Mugello and Russia, withdrawing from the Nurburgring after contracting COVID-19, then finally retiring from Portugal after a slew of incidents plagued his weekend. Stroll just hasn’t seemed to be himself and many pundits have questioned if he even still has the desire to race anymore. As the season winds to a close, Stroll’s 2021 seat isn’t in jeopardy due to his father’s stake in the team. However, even a dad can get fed up with their son so Stroll needs to produce or he could find himself out of a ride.
The teams will now need to hustle to the quaint community of Imola, located in the north of Italy. The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari will play host to its first Grand Prix race since 2006. The circuit will play host to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, as well the third stop to Italy in 2020. The lights are set to go green on November 1.