2020 Portuguese Grand Prix – what the drivers said

Read the drivers' thoughts following Lewis Hamilton's 92nd Grand Prix win

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix, Sunday - Steve Etherington

Lewis Hamilton broke Michael Schumacher’s record for most career race wins in Formula 1 at this afternoon’s Portuguese Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz and Valtteri Bottas both led early on, but the reigning world champion opened up a commanding lead once hitting the front of the field at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao.

Bottas finished second, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen secured the final spot on the podium.

Here’s what the drivers said following the race:

Lewis Hamilton – 1st (Mercedes):

“First, I owe these 92 wins to the team here and back and the factory for their tremendous work. They are continuously innovating and
pushing the barrier, even higher every year. It’s been such a privilege working with them and I am so grateful for all the moments. The reliability has been incredible thanks to the Mercedes team, PETRONAS and all our partners who are continuously pushing. No one is sitting back on the success, everyone is pushing and pushing and pushing. That’s the most incredible thing to be surrounded by: it inspires you, that collaboration, and there’s nothing quite like it. Today was tough. It was all about tyre temperatures today and that’s something I was able to, with the set-up, I pre-empted it. They said it was going to rain only after the race would be finished, but we got some drops at the start and going into Turn 7 there was a huge oversteer moment and then you didn’t know what was next. I really backed up massively and I should have probably defended from Valtteri, but I said to myself that I’d come by later and fortunately that’s what I was able to do. It’s an incredibly physical sport but I had a cramp in my right calf and I had to lift quite often down the straight because it was about to pull. Pretty
painful, but I had to get through it because it is what it is and you can’t lift the whole lap!

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix, Sunday – Steve Etherington

“I could only ever have dreamed of being where I am today. I didn’t have a crystal ball when I chose to come to this team and partner with these great people. What I can tell you is that I am trying to make the most of it every single day. Everything that we do together, we are all rowing in the same direction and that’s why you’re seeing the success that we’re having. My dad is here which is amazing, my step-mum Linda is here, Roscoe too. I feel very blessed. It’s going to take some time for it to sink in. I was still pushing flat out coming across the line and I am still in race mode mentally. I can’t find the words at the moment.”


Valtteri Bottas – 2nd (Mercedes):

“The opening lap on the race was really good, there was a bit of drizzle which made it tricky and some cars with the soft tyre had the upper hand, but I was pretty pleased to get the lead. To be honest, after that I just didn’t have the pace today, and I don’t understand why – no pace whatsoever. Of course, I tried to defend when Lewis came closer, but there was nothing I could do, like I said I don’t know where the pace was today. I was pushing hard but I couldn’t go faster. Later on in the race I was hoping to extend my first stint a bit and go for the Soft tyre at the end but I don’t think it would have made a difference to the result today. It was a tough one for me, and I will be working hard with the team to understand why, then come back stronger next weekend in Imola.”

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix, Sunday – LAT Images


Max Verstappen – 3rd (Red Bull):

“Overall I’m happy with third and I think it’s where we expected to be. I tried everything I could and the beginning was of course not so easy with a little bit of rain and low grip, which meant the tyre temperatures were very low for the first few laps. I had a little touch with Sergio but luckily I had no damage and then it started raining a little bit so I just tried to keep the car on the track and stay out of trouble. I don’t know how but the McLarens had a lot of grip on the opening lap so once the rain had passed I overtook them to get back into P3 and then focused on my own race. For some reason the soft tyre wasn’t working so well today but once we pitted and went onto the medium tyres we had good pace and it was quite ok. Of course by then already the gap to Mercedes was so big so we couldn’t really do anything but we can still be happy with another podium. I am not sure what the time of the pit stop was but it felt very fast today, so I think the mechanics all deserve a beer tonight for being the best in the paddock.”

PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL – OCTOBER 25: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 locks up during the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 25, 2020 in Portimao, Portugal. (Photo by Joe Portlock/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202010250418 // Usage for editorial use only //


Toto Wolff – Team Principal (Mercedes):

“92 race wins, who would have thought that when we embarked on the project in 2013? It’s almost a surreal number of wins. It is absolute passion, energy, and everything that Lewis puts into the sport. The talent and the ability just stand out. I think what I’ve seen this year for the first time with Lewis is that he ramps up his weekends. There is a lot of reflection, a lot of learning, understanding the tyres for the race, and he was just sitting comfortably at the beginning during opening laps, then he just ramped it up and then had unbelievable pace. I think he did it a couple of times now that he was applying pressure, and he was putting Valtteri in a worse position in relation to the tyres. He’s
just very good at that strategically. The opening laps were very enjoyable. It was amazing to see the McLarens when they were heating their tyres very well when they were on the Softs. You could hear the public screaming when Sainz got into the lead, so I think this is what the sport needs; I was happy for us that we were able to catch up, but I like the situation. It’s been a very good day. I’m not sure how I’m going to celebrate because we are living like hermits at the moment, but I am flying to see my wife and my son today, and I’m sure we will have a dinner with maybe a few drinks.”


Charles Leclerc – 4th (Ferrari):

“We had a strong race and we are seeing some progress, which is very encouraging for the whole team and for me personally. We worked very hard on our race pace and finally we have had a weekend with both a decent qualifying and a good race, so I am very pleased. The first stint was tricky. In the first few laps I had to keep focused as I was losing quite a lot of positions because we started on the Mediums. Lap after lap we got back to where we wanted to be and it was amazing. It’s good to see the progress the team is making race after race. If I look at my personal performance so far it has been a good season. I still have work to do, there are definitely a lot of things I still need to improve and I hope that looking back at this year I will remember it as a positive one.”


Pierre Gasly – 5th (AlphaTauri):

“I really enjoyed this race! It was very entertaining inside the cockpit and I had a lot of fun with the close battles on track. I felt very good with the soft tyres, I was able to manage them well at the start of the race and when the others started to struggle, I could push to pass the Renaults, McLarens and a Racing Point in the end. For us, as a midfield team, it almost tastes like a small victory to finish P5 behind the top three teams, so I’m really pleased with this result. Especially after all the work the guys in the garage have done on Friday night to rebuild a completely new car for me, they put in a lot of effort and I’m really happy to give them this fifth place today.”

PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL – OCTOBER 25: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT01 Honda on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 25, 2020 in Portimao, Portugal. (Photo by Joe Portlock/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202010250444 // Usage for editorial use only //


Christian Horner – Team Principal (Red Bull):

“Once again Max got everything he possibly could out of today’s race with another well-deserved third place, claiming his 40th Formula 1 podium. After a tricky start he got pretty close to Lewis through the first couple of corners but we really struggled to get the soft tyre working, with McLaren switching them on instantly and passing everyone. Max was then lucky not to sustain damage in the racing incident with Sergio and from there he was able to keep in touch with the leaders before switching onto to the medium tyre, which turned out to be the better tyre in the allocation today. It was a difficult race for Alex who lost quite a few positions at the start, coming around the first lap in P11 and like Max struggling to get the soft tyre switched on. Once he did get going he was stuck in a DRS train and wearing through the tyres pretty quickly so we pitted him early for the medium. He then had decent pace but got stuck behind Kimi and with high tyre wear we pitted him for a second time. Finishing twelfth was unfortunate for Alex and it’s disappointing for him to be outside the points. Congratulations to Lewis for breaking the record for F1 victories and also to our pit crew who look to have broken the world record once again, also completing all three pit stops in under 1.9 seconds. Quite an achievement.”


Carlos Sainz – 6th (McLaren):

“Quite an interesting race for us. Obviously I was very happy with the start and the first laps in the rain and the mixed conditions, managing to get up to P1 and leading the race for a few laps. It was good fun and I always enjoy those tricky conditions. I knew as soon as the track dried that it was going to be impossible to maintain the lead, but until that moment I hope the fans at home enjoyed it as much as I did! Unfortunately, in dry conditions we struggled with graining, which meant we went backwards through the field, and only towards the end we managed to recover some well-fought positions and finish in a good P6. It’s been a very tough race, but in the end, we scored good points which are important for the championship. Congratulations to Lewis for that impressive record.”


Sergio Perez – 7th (Racing Point):

“When you consider how the race started, P7 is a very good result and we can be proud of the recovery. The contact with Max [Verstappen] at the start was really unfortunate. The Mercedes at the front were struggling with the Mediums and Max was closing on them. I saw that Valtteri [Bottas] pushed Max wide and then he came back onto the track too aggressively causing a collision. It was then made worse by having a puncture and having to stop on the first lap. I had to drive to the pits with a big vibration too. We then ran a really strong stint on the mediums, which put us right back up towards the front, but the final stint on the soft tyres was tough. We probably lacked full knowledge of the soft – because the practice sessions were disrupted – and we weren’t able to protect against graining enough in the last stint, so [Pierre] Gasly and [Carlos] Sainz were able to get by at the end. Still, it’s some important points and we recovered well from being in last place after the first lap. I’m looking forward to racing at Imola next time out.”


Esteban Ocon – 8th (Renault):

“That was a good race for me. It was very hard at the start being on the Mediums, but I kept calm and together with the team we managed it extremely well and made sure we remained competitive throughout. I completed 53 laps on them! They seemed to last a long time and my pace was strong even towards the end of the stint. It kept raining too in short spells, so we had to be mindful of that with the grip levels. In the end I think we did a good job to get both cars inside the top ten.”

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Renault F1 Team RS20.
Portuguese Grand Prix, Sunday 25th October 2020. Portimao, Portugal.


Mattia Binotto – Team Principal (Ferrari):

“Overall this was quite a positive race. We scored points with both drivers, with Charles finishing in his start position, while Sebastian managed to take the last available point. Charles had an excellent race, very mature. We knew that the first lap would be treacherous and so it proved, not least due to the drops of rain that fell right at that moment. Once his tyres were up to temperature, he was able to make up places and get himself into the position we had been hoping for before the race, consolidating fourth place and running at a strong pace.
Sebastian also found himself in difficulty at the start, losing some positions and in the end he didn’t manage to get any higher than tenth.
Now we must confirm the progress seen in recent races as we go into the last part of this championship. We are still a long way back in the Constructors’ Championship but it’s possible to make up ground: this must be our target and we must do everything to achieve it.”


Daniel Ricciardo – 9th (Renault):

“It was a crazy start to the race, and we did manage to make up some places on the first lap moving up to eighth. Once it settled, we struggled for grip on the Softs and so we pitted quite early. We had the Mediums on for a lengthy spell, so we had to spend a lot of the second stint managing the tyres. I never really had the tyres in the right window so I couldn’t push too hard. Eighth and ninth for the team isn’t a bad result so I think we’ll take that from this weekend.”

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Renault F1 Team RS20.
Portuguese Grand Prix, Sunday 25th October 2020. Portimao, Portugal.


Otmar Szafnauer – Team Principal & CEO (Racing Point):

“We had a quick car today and it’s unfortunate we didn’t score as many points as we deserved. Checo was unlucky to be hit by Verstappen on lap one, which caused a puncture and dropped him to the back of the field. He was fully deserving of the driver of the day accolade as he recovered to seventh place at the flag. It was very nearly fifth place, but we really struggled with the soft tyres in the final few laps. For Lance, his race was looking strong until he got tagged by Lando [Norris] into turn one. I think the resulting penalty was unfair because Lance was ahead going into the apex and it was just a racing incident. There was significant damage to the car – the floor especially – and despite Lance persevering we chose to retire the car as a precaution. Despite a mixed and challenging day, we’ve scored some valuable points, retaining third in the championship.”


Sebastian Vettel – 10th (Ferrari):

“I can’t be satisfied with any race where I only manage to take a single point. Unfortunately I didn’t make a good getaway, so instead of gaining places I lost one – and for us this season it is not so easy to overtake. When I had an empty track ahead of me the pace was quite good and this is what I will take away as the positive from here. With better qualifying we could have ended up with a more satisfying result.”

GP PORTOGALLO F1/2020 – DOMENICA 25/10/2020
credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office


Andreas Seidl – Team Principal (McLaren):

“It’s obviously a positive that we outscored both Racing Point and Renault today in our Constructors’ Championship battle, thanks to a great drive from Carlos that resulted in P6 and eight very important points. It was a shame losing Lando on lap 18, after Lance collided with him, destroying his chances of also having a good result. Compliments to the team here at the track and back home at the factory who put a competitive car on track, and to the drivers who delivered all weekend. We confirmed we have a car that can keep alive the battle for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship. Congratulations also, to Lewis on his record. A truly incredible achievement.”


Kimi Raikkonen – 11th (Alfa Romeo):

“We had a very good first couple of laps, I put myself in a good position and was able to pass a lot of cars, but it doesn’t really matter in the end as we got nothing out of it. We did what we could, but unfortunately there was nothing I could do to keep Vettel behind at the end. The race pace was not too bad but when you start where we started, it’s not easy to make up places. The car felt good, but we still miss a little bit to finish in the points at this moment. Hopefully we can keep moving forward for next week.”


Alexander Albon – 12th (Red Bull):

“It was a tough race and we struggled for grip right from the beginning. I think the car was fast but we couldn’t show our true pace whilst we were stuck in traffic. I didn’t get off the line very well and for the first three laps we struggled with tyre temperatures, so we kept locking up the fronts. Once the tyres were hot, the car was good but recently we’ve been struggling to switch the tyres on and that just sent us backwards into traffic. Once you get caught in a DRS train it makes it very hard to overtake. We tried to react by doing something different with a two stop strategy but looking back maybe that wasn’t the best thing to do. Now we will look at what we can learn from today’s race and this weekend as a whole and make sure we put in a good performance in Imola.”

PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL – OCTOBER 25: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 and Lance Stroll of Canada driving the (18) Racing Point RP20 Mercedes lock up during the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 25, 2020 in Portimao, Portugal. (Photo by Armando Franca – Pool/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202010250473 // Usage for editorial use only //


Cyril Abiteboul – Team Principal (Renault):

“We came away from Germany with a great buzz after Daniel’s podium, it is therefore very disappointing to see that the car has struggled massively for grip all the way through the weekend. The team has managed to improve from a very poor start on Friday and eighth and ninth today is probably the best result we were realistically going to get starting from tenth and eleventh. What is interesting about today’s race is that we never managed to make the Softs work, but Esteban’s massive stint on the Mediums was extremely competitive. It is a clear demonstration that the weekend was dictated by the tyre performance: as we go towards the end of the season and we could experience similar circumstances in the next two races, we absolutely must understand what has hurt us if we are to finish strongly in the Constructors’ Championship. I am glad for Esteban as he made no mistakes in a tricky weekend and contributed to keeping the team in sight of our rivals.”


Lando Norris – 13th (McLaren):

“I had a really good start with Carlos. We risked a lot on the first lap and it paid off. We were first and fourth and it was looking really good, but then we started to suffer with graining on the Softs. Then I just got unlucky with Stroll – I’m not sure what he was thinking – and that caused us front wing damage. I had to box, have a front wing change and it put me a lot further down the order. So, a tough race that didn’t go our way, but we made a good start, had good pace and we were quicker than our close rivals before the incident. We’ll keep pushing and go again in Imola next week. Finally, congratulations to Lewis on achieving a record 92 wins, it’s a great achievement.”


Frederic Vasseur – Team Principal (Alfa Romeo):

“Finishing just outside the points is obviously frustrating, especially after running pretty much all the race in the top ten. We took the decision to split the two cars’ strategies to maximise our chances in the race and it nearly paid off. Kimi had an incredible first couple of laps and to see him overtake a Ferrari and fight with the Red Bulls is obviously a sign of the progress we have made since the start of the season. Unfortunately, our best efforts weren’t enough to bring a point home but we can be confident about the final races of the season: if we continue on this path, and keep improving and optimising our package, we can consistently be in the fight for top ten finishes.”


George Russell – 14th (Williams):

“It was a good race, the car felt great and the pace was strong. I had some massive moments behind Ocon when I was trying to overtake him and Alex (Albon), and another behind Giovinazzi later in the race. It is a shame that every time we have a good result there is not a chaotic race in front of us, and today again there was only one retirement. Points will come, but there are plenty of positives to take away from today, the car was feeling fast and I had some good battles out there.”

George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing FW43.
Portuguese Grand Prix, Sunday 25th October 2020. Portimao, Portugal.


Antonio Giovinazzi – 15th (Alfa Romeo):

“It felt like a very long race, made even harder by not having a working radio after lap one. I had no communication with the team and in the end it was just a matter of making it to the flag, which we did. The wind didn’t make things easy, the gusts made the car inconsistent from corner to corner and it was difficult to get into a rhythm. Hopefully we can have a better weekend in Imola, I think the potential is there and the track should suit us a little better.”


Kevin Magnussen – 16th (Haas):

“We started on the hard tires to make sure we were the last car to box. We were going for luck, hoping for rain, a safety car, red flag or virtual safety car – something like that. We needed that in the window where I was running long compared to the others. It was a long shot, but we knew we didn’t have a chance of points with a normal race. We went for it. That said, I still beat some people with the conventional strategies. It was the best we could do I think.”


Romain Grosjean – 17th (Haas):

“The first few laps of the race were quite slippery and fun. I managed to work my way through and put in a few overtaking moves. Sadly, the pace just wasn’t there though. We were really struggling on the straights so I couldn’t overtake anyone. We did the best we could and we extracted the maximum from the car – that’s all we can hope for.”


Nicholas Latifi – 18th (Williams):

“It was a tricky race out there today. There was a little bit of rain throughout, the wind was quite gusty, and for our car specifically we really struggle in those conditions. At the beginning of the race we seemed more on pace with our direct competitors, but then it just slipped away lap by lap. After a tough result, you just want to get straight back on track to try and put it right, so hopefully we can improve things for Imola.”

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF1000 and Nicholas Latifi (CDN) Williams Racing FW43 battle for position.
Portuguese Grand Prix, Sunday 25th October 2020. Portimao, Portugal.


Daniil Kvyat – 19th (AlphaTauri):

“It was a bad race, there wasn’t much to do after the first lap as I was already in a bad position. It was quite difficult, something felt wrong with the tyres, like they weren’t heated enough, and I just struggled for grip for the first few laps. The wind didn’t make the situation any easier but it’s normal, these conditions are always very tricky. Sometimes you have good races and sometimes you have bad ones, and today was a bad one for me. We have to analyse it and see what happened on those first few laps with the tyre temperatures and come back stronger next week.”


Lance Stroll – DNF (Racing Point):

“It’s a real shame to have retired from the race because our pace was strong and we made progress in the first stint to have a real shot at good points today. It was an awkward coming together with Lando [Norris]. I was waiting to see if he would go left or right, but he stayed towards the middle of the track at Turn 1. That meant I had a split-second to decide what to do and I chose the outside and went over the kerb a little. When I turned in, I felt I was ahead, but there wasn’t space for two cars. After the collision, the car was damaged and it wasn’t possible to continue, so we had to retire. Putting aside the result, I really enjoyed the circuit and I would love to see it on the Formula 1 calendar in the future. Today was one of those days to forget, so my focus is now entirely on Imola and turning the corner there.”

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