Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix Star Performers

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Portuguese Grand Prix. Here’s why.

Stars

Charles Leclerc

Leclerc’s qualifying lap was a thing of beauty to behold even for the non-tifosi. Making the cut for Q3 on medium tyres was even more impressive.

Unlike in the Nurburgring, he found similar performance from his car on race day, and held on to an excellent fourth place.

Pierre Gasly

Despite a badly disrupted Friday, Gasly was immediately quick on Saturday morning. Oddly, he got slower throughout the day from that point on, yet still beat his team mate into Q3 and took ninth on the grid.

After losing a place at the start Gasly ran the longest stint of any driver on the soft tyres, before a run to the flag on mediums which ended with him making a superb pass on Perez for fifth.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020
Hamilton bided his time, then attacked
Qualifying was a tricky affair in deteriorating conditions, and while Valtteri Bottas was capable of wringing more speed out of the Mercedes, Hamilton read the session perfectly and beat him to pole position.

He spooked himself with a twitch of oversteer on the first lap, drove a cautious couple of corners in which he lost two places, then got back on with it. Having easily passed Carlos Sainz Jnr for second, he bided his time behind Bottas, then unleashed his pace and brushed his team mate aside to win by 25 seconds.

Kimi Raikkonen

Those who started on the medium compound had to take it easy, while some of those on the softs were more circumspect than they needed to be. Kimi Raikkonen sussed the conditions to perfection and drove the best first lap of the year, dodging past car after car to hold sixth place.

He deserved to at least take a point on the strength of that, but was powerless to stop faster rivals passing him in the DRS zone once the track dried out.

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Strugglers

Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020
Stroll had two crashes with rivals at the same corner
A weekend so poor you have to question whether he was back to full fitness after his bout of Covid-19. Stroll was never on the pace throughout practice, during which he was involved in a collision with Max Verstappen which both could have avoided. Perez left him behind in qualifying.

While DRS-ing his way back towards the front of the midfield, Stroll tripped over Lando Norris at turn one, ruining both their races. After falling to last place, making an extra pit stop and urging his team to dwell on the benefits of saving mileage on his engine, Stroll’s car was retired.

Alexander Albon

According to Christian Horner, dropping Albon is the decision the team don’t want to take. That may very well be the case, but on the strength of this performance you have to wonder how they’re going to avoid it.

Again he was over half a second off Verstappen in qualifying. While neither of them made particularly good starts, Albon continued to lose ground on lap two, leaving him 12th. After a long spell stuck behind Raikkonen the team brought him in for an extra pit stop, which didn’t help, and he lost a huge chunk of time having to let Verstappen lap him.

Daniil Kvyat

Things have become almost as one-sided at AlphaTauri as they are at Red Bull. Kvyat couldn’t accompany his team mate into Q3, then made a poor start which dropped him six places to 19th. A gamble on a second pit stop with nine laps to go achieved nothing, and left him two laps down in last place. “A bad race,” he admitted.

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And the rest

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020
Bottas led the early stages
Bottas was quickest in all three sectors in qualifying, which made his failure to take pole position particularly galling. He drove a feisty first lap, re-passing Verstappen and pouncing on Hamilton as well, but couldn’t conjure the same pace from his team mate on the hard tyres.

Verstappen normally has a great touch in the wet, so it was surprising he didn’t make the same kind of gains the McLaren drivers or Raikkonen did at the start. After that it was a routine run to the ‘best of the rest’ spot behind the Mercedes.

Perez deserved plaudits for his recovery drive following his first-lap tangle with Verstappen. However graining set in late in his second stint, and he lost places to Gasly and Sainz. The latter must have thought he was on for a great result after leading four laps with a brilliant start. But McLaren’s race pace was less good as the track dried, and Norris’s race was wrecked by Stroll.

Esteban Ocon, Renault, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020
Ocon reckoned he could have non-stopped
The Renault pair took eighth and ninth: Ocon ran a monster first stint on mediums (which he reckoned could have taken him to the finish) while Ricciardo, who crashed in qualifying, was somewhat tentative at the start. Vettel’s qualifying was poor again but he grafted away in the midfield during the race and came away with a point to show for his efforts.

After another stellar qualifying performance George Russell ran 13th early in the race. Vettel and Perez inevitably came by him during the race, so it’s hard to see how points were possible for him on this occasion. Nicholas Latifi qualified last and was lapped once more than his team mate.

Between them were Antonio Giovinazzi, whose first lap on impressive given that he started on mediums, and the two Haas drivers, who hoped for rain but needed more of it to have a chance of coming away with points.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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21 comments on “2020 Portuguese Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Motor racing fans [as opposed to others] can still see that Kimi first lap on the Sky website, commentated by Davidson instead of Crofty, an added bonus.

    1. It’s on F1’s Youtube channel as well, but without any commentary.

  2. Can’t really argue with these choices. As a race it was notable for a number of thoroughly dominated (or dominating) team mates. I can’t recall a season with so many one-sided intra-team battles. Hamilton, verstappen, leclerc, perez, gasly, raikkonen and russell were all vastly superior in Portugal, and this has largely been the case all season long*. you could even add Ricciardo to that list though yesterday Ocon was uncharacteristically competitive.

    *I’m going to pre-empt people saying Stroll and perez have been evenly matched this year – they haven’t. Stroll is terrible albeit less terrible than in previous years.

    1. @frood19, I’m not gonna bite re. Stroll as he has been clearly weaker the past couple of weekends (where he raced).

      I have some doubt still around Russell. He is clearly stellar on Saturday, but on Sundays he doesn’t seem to stand out as much compared to his rookie teammate.
      More than anything this means that I really want to see Russell in a better car and against a better known/quality teammate.

    2. @frood19

      Well, I think perez has edged Stroll now with his recent performances, but taking into account Stroll has had 3 DNFs and 1 race due to illness (not including this one obviously) that were not his fault and missed quite a chunk of points, I don’t think Perez has been that much better. This is about the only weekend Stroll has been very poor. He’s actually been impressive many times this year. Just take a look at his start in Russia a few weeks back as well as in many other races. He tends to be weak in qualifying, but most of the time, his starts are really good and he has beaten Perez on merit quite a few times. Such as Hungary, Spain, Spa and even the Tuscan grand prix. Stroll got outqualified there like spa, but both times, made a much better start then perez and finished ahead in Spa and was on target for a podium at Tuscany (ahead of Perez until his failure.

      Even Stroll’s performance in russia was sort of masked by leclerc taking him out. He had a poor qualifying session again, but had the advantage of new tyres. Despite both starting on the dirty side of the grid, Perez lost 2 places and Stroll also lost a few off the line, but then gained about 8 places within a few corners lining himself up right behind Perez. Who knows what would have happened then? If anything, Stroll may have had the chance to get by based on his first few corners and tyre advantage, but he got taken out.

      The races that were very clear that Perez did a better job were in the first 2 races although Perez nearly ruined his result in Styrya when he hit Albon. You also could say that he did better in italy, but then that would sort of be similar to saying Kvyat was better than Gasly and Kvyat was far quicker than his team mate despite being on slower tyres until the chaos messed up his strategy. Then there was this weekend where Perez truly dominated Stroll performance wise.

      That is basically 4 – 4 in races that are reasonable to compare. With Perez’s performance recently looking so strong, that is why I think he has now edged it. But as a season on the whole, if you think Stroll is still terrible, Perez hasn’t been a lot better. I think Perez is still solid, and Stroll is now at least decent most of the time and has some stand out and underwhelming performances.

      1. Well just for considering, on both Austria and Styria, Per was superior in both races from the beginning, specially in Styria; In Spain, Per finished ahead of Stroll but was penalized akwardly, and finally in Tuscan GP Stroll had the updated car, that Per didn’t… I think Stroll has been performing much better compared to previous years, specially in Hungary, don’t get me wrong, I just think that Perez is still better week-in week-out overall

        1. Yea as i implied, I still think Perez is better, just hasn’t been by a huge margin really. Styria pace wise Perez was far better, but he very nearly got beaten by Stroll (under a tenth of a second seperating them). This was due to Perez crashing into Albon, which was certainly a big mistake that could have cost him badly. Stroll also did a dirty move on Ricciardo which should have got him a penalty, but still, due to that mistake, the gap between them still only will have been small. In terms of general pace, Perez is far better, but they both certainly make mistakes. One area I think Stroll is better is his first lap runs. He is arguably the best driver on the grid here somehow getting so many overtakes done without any contact. At least two occasions, he instantly made up for a poor qualifying by instantly getting by Perez, and I think the same may have occurred in Russia. I think Stroll’s weaknesses can be partly forgiven for many of his strengths.

      2. Finally some sanity

    3. My impression is that coming to a new circuit or circumstances that can throw you off (cold, limited/no testing) increases the differences between them. It gives more opportunity to excel

  3. No honorable mention of Perez. His drive back to P5 from a spin and a flat tyre was epic.

    1. I agree he should have been mentioned for his great recovery, but arguably, the incident at the start wasn’t just Verstappen’s fault. He played a part in it too and was a bit optimistic for the conditions. He also got a reprimand twice this weekend. It was a mix of good and bad overall this weekend for Perez.

      1. Although somehow we both missed that. We both need to read more carefully!

  4. Stars: HAM, LEC, GAS with honorable mention to PER.
    Strugglers: STR, ALB, and KVY.

  5. Keith actually forgot to add that when Stroll was running without hitting anyone he managed to receive a 5 second penalty for track limits as well…

  6. Gasly deserves another shot at Red Bull. What does he have to do to prove himself now?

    Unlike Kvyat, he bounced back after being dropped from the main team. I like Albon, but he’s not done any better than Gasly, and they are giving him a lot more chances. Yesterday’s race was a very mature drive from him, taking care of the tyres well and battling his way up the order.

    As much as I’d LOVE to see the likes of Hulkenberg landing that spot at the second Red Bull, Gasly thoroughly deserves another promotion. After all, he’s a F1 race winner, the only one of those currently available for a seat next year (except for Kimi ofc).

    1. @fer-no65 Nah he doesn’t deserve that imo. He’s driving well at Alpha Tauri and would likely continue to perform well at another team. Putting him back into Redbull will likely produce similar results to his previous stint, or Albon’s current year. Albon was seemingly happier with the car last season so it appears the current car, and recent developments are just making it harder and harder to get the most out of it. No guarantee that they would be able to make it any more drivable next year without sacrificing ultimate pace, which would make no sense since Max is the only one likely to challenge Mercedes (well, Bottas) regularly.

      Gasly doesn’t deserve to have his career destroyed by getting repeatedly pummelled by Verstappen race after race. He’d be better to stay where he is and look for other opportunities. Redbull can either stick with Albon or if they lose faith then use an experienced driver like Perez or Hulkenberg. They might get slightly better results, and they are both quite far into their careers so they have less to lose than Albon or Gasly if it doesn’t work out for them.

      1. @keithedin those are good points. In the end I just don’t see the point of him being in Alpha Tauri… he better off do a Sainz…

  7. Lapping your teammate seems so easy. Just another day in the office for Max

    1. Well, not to take anything away from verstappen, but it’s albon that is underperforming here.

  8. “He deserved to at least take a point on the strength of that, but was powerless to stop faster rivals passing him in the DRS zone once the track dried out.”
    Another example that demonstrates the tremendous stupidity that has been the creation of this artificial and unsportsmanlike way of overtaking another car.
    It is shameful how the FIA gives up its sporting authority in the face of the demands of “show” on the part of the mercenaries who run the category, who do not care about the sport at all.

    1. Yes, raikkonen did a great job!

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