Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he ‘love the battle’ after fighting his way to a dominant victory at 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix.
Having initially dropped to third on a safety car restart on lap seven after Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen crashed out on lap two, Hamilton quickly fought back to pass Max Verstappen before clinching the lead and eventually victory on lap 20 from Valtteri Bottas.
Speaking post race on how satisfied he was with his 97th F1 win, Hamilton said; “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!
Portimao however contains many undulating elevation changes and the winds created a tricky race, which Hamilton struggled with, adding; “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.”
Bottas meanwhile finished third after losing second to Verstappen on his outlap after pitting on lap 37 before encountering a sensor issue as he chased the Dutchman down, which left the Finnish driver disappointed after starting on pole position.
Explaining where he believes his race was lost after controlling the opening stint despite failing to escape DRS range of one second, Bottas said; ” I think ultimately the main issue was the first stint – I was struggling for pace and I still don’t understand why.”
Bottas however is pleased to have claimed the point for fastest lap after Verstappen’s lap time was deleted for exceeding track limits, which he believes “could be an important point” in the title fight, despite sitting 37 points of championship leader – Hamilton.
Mercedes Team Principal, Toto Wolff praised Hamilton for an “Absolutely stunning drive” with control to win from Verstappen by over 29s.
Wolff also rued an “unfortunate” sensor issue on Bottas’ exhaust which cost the Silver Arrows a possible one-two finish, with Bottas losing five seconds as his car went into safety mode.
Reflecting on Mercedes’ progress after a difficult pre-season test, Wolff admitted that there is “a buzz that I have not felt in the Team since 2013 when we had that first sniff that we could be there.”