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Portuguese Grand Prix 2021

Winners and losers from the F1 Portuguese Grand Prix

The third round of the 2021 Formula 1 season has now been and gone at the Algarve International Circuit - but who were the winners and losers of the Portuguese Grand Prix?

Analysis
To news overview © Mercedes

The Portuguese Grand Prix may not have featured quite the same level of excitement as the first two races of the 2021 F1 season, but it still proved to be a fascinating afternoon. Lewis Hamilton took his second victory of the year with an impressive drive, whilst title rival Max Verstappen held on to second place.

It was an event in which several drivers and team shone, whilst others are already looking forward to the next race in less than one week's time in Spain. Here are the main winners and losers from Sunday in Portimao.

The winners

Lewis Hamilton

It was a typically impressive performance from Hamilton, who bounced back from his lacklustre restart following the safety car to overtake Verstappen as well as Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. From then on it seemed clear that the Briton's lead was not at risk, and he remained calm throughout the rest of the Grand Prix.

Hamilton had eventually built up such a lead that he briefly discussed the possibility of a late pit stop with his engineer in order to attempt to get the fastest lap. The seven-times world champion opted not to take the risk though, evidence of his continued strategic thinking and the fact that he clearly - even at this very early stage of the season - has one eye on that eighth title.

Sergio Perez

Perez is still adjusting to the Red Bull, and at no point during Sunday's race did he appear to be able to seriously compete with the front three runners. But the Mexican put in a solid performance and managed to make his tyres last until lap 52 of the race. Before pitting, Perez was leading and seemed to contribute towards strategically allowing teammate Verstappen to close the gap slightly to Hamilton in second.

Red Bull will surely be pleased with their new driver for supporting the team in this way and bringing home a good amount of points.

McLaren

It was a qualifying session to forget for McLaren on Saturday; Lando Norris lined up in seventh, whilst Daniel Ricciardo had a particularly disappointing day, having failed to get out of Q1. Starting in 16th meant that the Australian would have a challenge on his hands in the race. Team principal Andreas Seidl stated that the aim was for Norris to reach the top five and that Ricciardo's goal would be to get to a points-paying position.

Fortunately, Seidl's hopes were realised. The papaya cars bounced back from their Saturday struggles, with Norris and Ricciardo finishing in fifth and ninth respectively. Norris continued the strong form he has shown in the previous two Grand Prix weekends and was particularly impressive in the early laps of the race, where he was able to challenge the Red Bull of Perez.

So far, the team's third place in the constructors' standings is looking pretty solid.

Alpine

After a difficult start to the 2021 F1 season, Alpine finally showed some promise with their impressive display in Portugal. Esteban Ocon almost held on to the sixth place he had obtained in qualifying and ended the race in seventh. Meanwhile Fernando Alonso finished just one place behind his teammate, a resurgent performance after a disappointing qualifying saw him start in 13th on the grid.

Ocon has spoken of the hard work that the team have put in to improve the car and it certainly seems to be paying off. It will be fascinating to see if Alpine can maintain this high level of performance in Spain.

Mick Schumacher

Despite arriving into Formula 1 with a great deal of hype, it would sometimes be easy to forget that Schumacher is now on the grid, given that he is fighting at the back of the field in the Haas. But the rookie quietly put in an impressive drive at the Algarve International Circuit.

During the Grand Prix Schumacher easily outpaced teammate Nikita Mazepin and came out on top in a battle with the Williams of Nicholas Latifi. This will surely add to the German's growing confidence as he finds his feet in the sport that his father so famously dominated.

The losers

Max Verstappen

To state the obvious, second place in a Grand Prix is hardly a poor result. But Verstappen had perhaps his weakest performance of the year so far in Portimao, and this could put him on the back foot in the title battle against Hamilton.

A couple of errors over the weekend cost Verstappen dearly, including the fact that the point he gained for securing the fastest lap of the race was immediately taken from him due to the stewards deeming that he exceeded track limits. These mistakes seemed to irk the Red Bull driver and showed cracks in the calmer demeanour he has adapted so far in 2021.

Verstappen will need to regain his equilibrium quickly to avoid any further damage to his title challenge.

Kimi Raikkonen

Sunday's race saw a rare error from Raikkonen, who became the only DNF of the Grand Prix when he collided with Alfa Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi at the end of the first lap. The Finn ran into the back of Giovinazzi and broke his front wing in the process, forcing him into the gravel.

Raikkonen took the blame for the incident, and the veteran driver will be disappointed to have missed out on what could have been a strong afternoon, given the Alfa Romeo's improved performance so far this season.

Aston Martin

It was a strange weekend for the Aston Martin team. Things looked up for Sebastian Vettel in qualifying, having managed to reach Q3 for the first time since the 2020 British Grand Prix. Yet that promise soon disappeared in the race, and the German eventually crossed the line in 13th.

Teammate Lance Stroll didn't fare much better. The Canadian had qualified poorly in 17th, but didn't make great gains in the Grand Prix and finished one place behind Vettel. It is a stark contrast from how the team were performing last year under their former guise as Racing Point.

Nikita Mazepin

Another weekend in which Mazepin added more names to the list of drivers who are not fans of his. Saturday's qualifying saw him get on the wrong side of Nicholas Latifi, who accused the Haas driver of deliberately blocking him at the end of Q1. Mazepin denied there was any intent behind this.

His actions on Sunday not only sparked the ire of another driver but also landed the rookie in trouble with the stewards. Mazepin failed to let Sergio Perez past when the Mexican was leading the race, causing Perez to call him a "f**king idiot" on the team radio. The Haas driver was given a five second penalty for ignoring blue flags.

As well as these misdemeanours, Mazepin seemed to struggle in the race and was nowhere near matching the pace of teammate Schumacher.

Portimao

Whilst some drivers had a decent afternoon in the Portuguese Grand Prix, others did not appear to have enjoyed their visit to the Algarve International Circuit. One of those was Max Verstappen, who made his thoughts very clear about the prospect of returning to Portimao in the future.

"The whole weekend I didn't enjoy because of the grip levels around here," Verstappen told Sky Sports. "I hope we don't come back."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the track's future on the F1 calendar.

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

The latest news about the Portuguese Grand Prix straight from the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve.

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