Lewis Hamilton has an opportunity to make history at this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix, but can the defending world champion record the 92nd race win of his career or will he be upstaged in the Algarve?
Hamilton’s victory in Germany a fortnight ago saw him move level with the legendary Michael Schumacher on 91 career race wins, but such has been his dominance of the sport in recent years it is only a matter of time before he passes the former Ferrari and Bennetton star to become the all-time leader in race wins, and his first opportunity comes at a circuit where he does not have a great deal of experience.
The Portuguese Grand Prix has not appeared on the Formula 1 calendar since Jacques Villeneuve took the chequered flag back in 1996, but that race was held in Estoril and this one is taking place at the Algarve International Circuit, a track that is more well known for hosting Superbikes, the Le Mans Series and MotoGP. So could the unfamiliar track delay Hamilton’s passage into the Formula 1 record books?
Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas will be hoping that that is the case as they desperately try to gain ground in the race for the Drivers’ Championship, but right now it is impossible to bet against the Mercedes star, even though he has won only two of the last four races. And that tells you the high standard that he has set, when winning half of the last four races is considered a slump in form.
Hamilton has won seven of the 11 races so far this season and not only has he largely been top dog on Sunday, he has also been the dominant force on Saturday’s too, claiming pole position on eight occasions and turning that into a race win six times. With that sort of track record, and his track record on the whole over the past few years, you immediately have to be confident about him starting the race from the very front and still being there at the end. A Pole Position/Race Winner double is on the cards as Hamilton makes history.
The odds are backable but hardly lucrative, so a bigger priced bet worth considering is backing Sergio Perez to force his way onto pole. The Mexican has enjoyed a strong season so far and over the past month or so he has been very impressive, following a fifth-place finish in the Tuscan Grand Prix with fourth-place finishes in Russia and Germany. His result in the Eifel Grand Prix could have been even better though, as he admitted. Perez was gaining ground on Daniel Ricciardo when a safety car scuppered his push for a podium place, but given his form recently he many to have to wait much longer for a spot alongside the first two finishers.