F1: Hamilton vs. Verstappen Duel “warms up” Algarve

Prize will not have public

The duel between the Briton Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and the Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull) should "heat up" the Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix to be held this Sunday, May 2nd, in Portimão.

The 36-year-old Briton, seven times world champion, reaches the third race of the 2021 World Cup with the leadership pinch (made with three fingers) by a point on the young Dutchman, 23.

Hamilton started the season winning, in Bahrain, and Verstappen responded in Imola, adding a point more than the Dutchman thanks to the bonus for the fastest lap on the Italian circuit.

If, last year, the Portuguese Grand Prix took place in the final part of the season, with Hamilton already practically champion and with Mercedes dominating the performances on the track, this year the 'film' is quite different, starting with the fact that, as opposed to 2020, the presence of the public on the benches was not allowed by government decision due to the measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the track, Red Bull seems to have achieved a balance of forces with Mercedes, due to the presence of Mexican Sergio Pérez, as has not been seen for a long time in the maximum discipline of motor sport.

The rain of recent days has helped to clean the rubber left on the track by MotoGP bikes two weeks ago, which will make Formula 1 riders more difficult to grip the asphalt.

And, under these conditions, it has been seen that Mercedes faces unusual difficulties, especially in terms of the rear train, while Red Bull is showing itself more adapted to the regulatory changes introduced this year, especially in the construction of the flat bottom.

The Finn Valtteri Bottas, second Mercedes driver, is one of those who has suffered most from the technical differences this year, complaining about a lack of grip and, consequently, a lack of confidence in the rear of his Mercedes.

Details that have made the difference when it comes to achieving results and that even led to an accident in the previous race, in Imola, when Bottas tried to defend himself, in a more aggressive way, against the British George Russell (Williams), when they disputed the ninth position.

Both ended up in the gravel and with the Mercedes practically destroyed, leaving the question of how the reunion between the two drivers on the track will be.

The Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix also marks the return of a Schumacher to the Algarve track, given the presence of German Mick Schumacher, one of the season's debutants, driving a Haas.

In 2008, the year the Portuguese circuit opened, the father and former Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher took advantage of the Algarve track to test his skills on two wheels, training with a Superbike motorcycle.

The 18th edition of the Grand Prix of Portugal will take place between Friday and Sunday.

The first day will be reserved for the first free practice, Saturday will be marked by qualification for the formation of the starting grid in the race, which, on Sunday, starts at 15:00 for 66 laps or a maximum of two hours.