Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton holds up the trophy on the podium after his record breaking win at the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday. Associated Press
Lewis Hamilton became Formula One’s record all-time race-winner on Sunday when he claimed his 92nd victory at the Portuguese Grand Prix to pass Michael Schumacher at the top of the list.
His win lifted him one clear of Schumacher’s 14-year-old record of 91 triumphs after a thrilling inaugural F1 race at the Algarve International Circuit.
After a long hug with his father Anthony who, together with step-mother Linda, had witnessed his historic achievement, Hamilton heaped praise on his Mercedes before joining his race engineer Peter ‘Bono’ Bonnington and Bottas on the podium.
In this 2012 photo shows Michael Schumacher (left) with Lewis Hamilton. File/Reuters
“I owe this and so much to all these guys here and the team at the factory,” said Hamilton.
“For their tremendous work, they are always pushing the barrier higher and higher. It is a privilege working with them... Working with them is inspiring.”
Hamilton fought back after an early scare, when he led but dropped to third after a rain shower, to demonstrate impeccable tyre management and flawless judgement as he claimed an eighth win in 12 races this year.
The six-time world champion finished 25.5 seconds clear of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen a familiar third.
Hamilton’s triumph added another unprecedented feat to his roster of records. He now has the most wins, a record 97 pole positions, a record 161 podium finishes and a record 45 consecutive points finishes.
The 35-year-old Briton extended his championship lead over Bottas to 77 points.
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton (right) celebrates his victory on the podium in Portimao. AFP
A seventh world title, which would equal another Schumacher record, now looks all but inevitable with only five races remaining this year.
The 35-year-old Hamilton said the race had been “tough” and he had suffered cramp.
“Yes, it’s a very physical sport and I had it in my right calf. I was lifting down the straights and it was painful.”
Sainz claims early lead: Charles Leclerc was fourth for Ferrari ahead of a surging Pierre Gasly after an excellent drive in his Alpha Tauri.
Carlos Sainz came home sixth for McLaren to beat Sergio Perez, who recovered from a first lap clash with Verstappen, to finish seventh for Racing Point ahead of the two Renaults of Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, in his final season at Ferrari, finished 10th.
On a cool and breezy day, with light rain forecast, an appreciative crowd of 27,500 were scattered around the new 90,000-capacity circuit, hosting the first Portuguese Grand Prix since 1996, as the drivers completed the pre-race ceremonial, including an anti-racism salute led by Hamilton, in a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, taking a knee.
At the start, Hamilton led away from his record 97th pole while, from third, Verstappen passed Bottas before the Finn surged back to pass him and his team-mate to take the initiative.
As gentle rain fell, Hamilton slithered, while Sainz, on softs, found grip to take the lead, evading a Verstappen-Perez collision, which sent the Racing Point car spinning. Briefly, it was wild stuff.
In the “ice-rink”-like conditions, the Mercedes men, on mediums, needed time to warm their tyres before catching and passing Sainz on laps six and seven respectively.
After two stunning wins in three races, the force in Formula One is with Max Verstappen who will this weekend bid for another victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
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