A good Saturday qualifying put Carlos Sainz in fourth and Charles Leclerc in eighth place for the Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit, the drivers looked forward towards a possible good race for the Scuderia.
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Photos: Scuderia Ferrari
As the lights went out and the race got underway, Carlos Sainz used his soft compound tyres to get the jump on fourth placed Sergio Perez and held onto the position, while Charles Leclerc held onto eighth place. A Safety Car was then deployed after a collision between Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi broke Raikkonen’s front wing and took the Finn out of the race.
As the race restarted on lap seven, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas maintained the lead as Max Verstappen took second from Lewis Hamilton. Sainz lost out to Perez on the restart and as a result dropped back to sixth place, as Leclerc moved up a position into seventh.
On the start of lap 20, Bottas lost the move to teammate Hamilton, the battle between the pair allowing Verstappen in third to catch up. Meanwhile, Sainz was the first of the two Ferrari drivers into the pits on lap 22, re-joining 15th place on a second set of medium compound tyres.
Sainz’s stop triggered stops for Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel, as Leclerc continued on, now in fifth position. Sainz found himself in a battle with former teammate Norris for tenth after his stop, but was unable to find a way past the McLaren.
Leclerc then pitted on lap 26 for hard compound tyres, coming back onto the track behind Sainz and in tenth. Verstappen stopped for hard compound tyres with thirty laps left to run, urging Bottas to pit on the following lap, handing third to Verstappen.
Leclerc and Sainz swapped positions as Leclerc appeared to be the faster of the two cars on the harder compound tyre, allowing Leclerc to push on and challenge the cars in front. After pitstops for Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll ahead, Leclerc took sixth place, while Sainz followed him behind into seventh.
Heading into the final third of the race, Sainz was coming under pressure for the Alpine of Ocon behind, the Frenchman getting past the Ferrari for seventh on lap 44. Leclerc set about chasing Norris for fifth place, with McLaren concerned of the threat from behind.
With Sainz struggling on the medium tyres, he lost eighth place to Alonso, with Ricciardo closing in behind. As Bottas and Verstappen pitted in order to go for the fastest lap, Sainz lost out on another position to Ricciardo, leaving him the last of the points scorers in tenth.
As Hamilton came home to take the win for the second year in a row in Portugal, Leclerc was unable to pass Norris and took sixth position, while Sainz finished just outside of the points in eleventh after losing the position to Pierre Gasly on the last lap. After the race, Verstappen lost the fastest lap for track limits, handing the point for fastest lap back to Bottas.
A good day for Charles scoring good points in sixth place, while it was unlucky for Carlos, just losing out on the final lap as he struggled on the medium tyres.
Written by Cóilín Higgins.