Venue: Autodromo Internacional do Algarve
Max Verstappen made amends for a moderate qualifying effort at Imola with a stylish victory on race day and is rated the man to beat in our Portuguese Grand Prix predictions.
The Dutchman got off to a flying start in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and never looked back once moving up from third on the grid to first place on the charge down to the opening corner.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said: “Max got a mega start and then braved it out into the first turn, and thereafter controlled the race brilliantly.
“It’s by far the best start we’ve had for quite a few years, so we just want to keep building the momentum.”
Verstappen produced a professional display in wet conditions to come home 22 seconds clear at the chequered flag.
He added: “The conditions were challenging out there, especially in the beginning, and it was very hard to stay on track, but we stayed out of trouble.
“I wouldn’t call it a dominant performance, as Lewis was following me quite well and for him to come back to second after his incident means they have a lot of pace in that car.
“We still have to work hard to improve because it’s very close, but for now I’m very happy with the result.
“I’m looking forward to Portimao, because it’s an amazing track.”
Teammate Sergio Perez did well to secure a place on the front row in qualifying but was all at sea on the Sunday, slipping back to 11th spot.
The Mexican can be backed at 8/1 to make amends with a second career victory in Portugal.
How the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix finished
1 Verstappen (Red Bull), 2 Hamilton (Mercedes), 3 Norris (McLaren), 4 Leclerc (Ferrari), 5 Sainz (Ferrari), 6 Ricciardo (McLaren), 7 Gasly (Alphatauri), 8 Stroll (Aston Martin), 9 Ocon (Renault), 10 Alonso (Renault), 11 Perez (Red Bull), 12 Tsunoda (Alphatauri), 13 Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), 14 Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 15 Vettel (Aston Martin), 16 Schumacher (Haas), 17 Mazepin (Haas), DNF Bottas (Mercedes), Russell (Williams), Latifi (Williams)
Admittedly, Hamilton was in hot pursuit of Verstappen on lap 31 of 63, before the seven-time world champion made an uncharacteristic mistake and slid off.
The Mercedes star then fought back from ninth to second in an impressive display of damage limitation.
“I didn’t think I would finish second when I was facing that barrier,” reported Hamilton.
“But I remember being there and looking at the barrier and I refused to believe the race was over.
“I could have turned the car off and got out but I was grateful I didn’t.
“After that, it was trying to switch the anger and turn it into positive energy and race forwards. That is an amazing blessing to be sent.”
He added: “If I had lost 25 points to Max today it would have been hard to recover based on the fact Red Bull have an incredibly fast car.
“They were faster than us this weekend. We have got a close battle, which we love. There are going to be a lot of exciting races up ahead.”
However, Verstappen should have won the season opener in Bahrain, but for an illegal overtaking move, and is still preferred in our Portuguese Grand Prix betting tips.
Mercedes number two Valtteri Bottas was the victim of a spectacular collision and is 8/1 to gain compensation.
McLaren’s Lando Norris made up the podium at Imola ahead of Ferrari ace Charles Leclerc and that pair are both 33/1.
Past Portuguese Grand Prix winners
2020 Hamilton (Mercedes), Bottas (Mercedes), Verstappen (Red Bull)
1996 Villeneuve (Williams)
1995 Coulthard (Williams)
1994 Hill (Williams)
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