Lewis Hamilton is born to do this: Five things we learnt from the Portuguese GP
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1 Hamilton is the master of his domain
It might be silly to reiterate this, but boy, oh boy, Hamilton is a great driver. In previous seasons, and without a real threat to his dominance, it seemed like the Brit was merely going through the motions. He had the superior car, making his race day appearance a forgone conclusion more often than not.
Now that there is some competition for his crown, we are all once again reminded just how good a driver he really is. He had a flawless display in Portugal, and was ruthless in his overtaking and his decision-making and if he is to be beaten this season, well, all of Red Bull - and that includes Sergio Perez, the strategists, the technical team and pitlane crew are going to have to be on point 100% of the time.
2 Red Bull are in this fight
Despite finishing third and fourth, respectively, this past weekend, Red Bull can take a lot of comfort in their performance. They might have lost the battle in Portugal, but the war is far from over. They were not blown away, nor left behind by the Mercedes, and kept the Silver Arrows honest throughout the race. Verstappen also had the fastest lap of the race before it was deleted due to him exceeding track limits.
It is now obvious that Portimao is a Mercedes track but as we progress further into the season, Red Bull will surely have a number of circuits that will favour their car more - Austria, the Hungaroring and Mexico for sure, while Baku, and Monaco - depending on what happens this weekend in Barcelona - could all be more conducive to a Red Bull victory.
3 Lando Norris is in a purple patch
The young Brit seems to be getting the best out of his McLaren right now, and he put in another stellar performance this past weekend - finishing fifth behind the Mercedes and Red Bull. He adds that latest finish to a fourth and third-place finish from the prior races.
He was a whopping 24 second faster than his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who finished ninth, and has been constantly faster than the Australian on all race weekends around that ball-park figure. It can be argued that he should have no business being up there, if Ricciardo is used as a meter for success, but the 21-year-old is fast proving that although the machinery will get you from point A-to-B, confidence and belief still play a massive role in a driver's performance.
He has been excellent.
4 Alpine back in business
The biggest surprise this weekend was arguably the French-backed team. Estaban Ocon finished seventh, while Fernando Alonso came alive in the latter stages of the race to claim eight. They might have benefited from the poor race strategy of Ferrari regarding Carlos Sainz but there has undoubtedly been a steady improvement at the team over the three race weekends - at Imola they were ninth and tenth, respectively, an improvement from Ocon's 13th place finish in Bahrain, the same race were Alsonso failed to finish.
They could find themselves in a real scrap with Feraari and McLaren in the coming weeks if they continue that upward trajectory, and more power to them - it can only make the season all the more interesting.
5 Mazepin is the worst
It is never pleasant to call out a sportsman at the highest level of any sport, and that is especially true in such an elite sport as F1, but Nikiti Mazepin continues to make it an easy exercise. He once again showed his inexperience, disrespect and his lack of quality this past weekend - cutting of Nicholas Latifi during the Williams' driver qualifying run on Saturday, and then showing that he had learnt nothing from that encounter, doing a similar nasty on Sergio Perez on race day, despite several blue flags that warned him to move out of the way.
He received a five second penalty for that indiscretion and finished two laps behind Hamilton. His teammate also finished in a similar position, but at least showed some expertise during the race. The Haas is a terrible car, to be sure, but Mazepin - right now - is unequal to the task of being a F1 driver. He could improve in the weeks to come, for sure, but for now could he at least learn a bit of the sports etiquette.