Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix was a fitting way to break the record for most F1 wins because it demonstrated how he has improved as a driver, says Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin.
Despite losing the lead at the start of the race, Hamilton overtook team mate Valtteri Bottas and went on to win by a comfortable margin of 25 seconds.
Shovlin said the performance was “one of those days where you saw Lewis at his best” and showed the qualities of “the more recent version of Lewis”.
Hamilton showed patience in waiting for his time to strike, said Shovlin. “He was pretty calm losing places off the start, he didn’t take risks – he acknowledges that he was a bit cautious in those conditions. But he knew that it would all come back to him.
“He clearly had pace in hand a bit behind Valtteri. As Valtteri started to struggle with the tyres a little relatively early on in that first stint – Valtteri was feeling the car was quite inconsistent – you saw that Lewis was suddenly just up behind him. With Valtteri struggling a bit with the balance, Lewis was able to make that pass.
“Then he just managed the race. His pace was incredible at times, just how much he actually had in hand. So I think it was definitely one of his races where it was sort of fitting to go to the top of the all-time winners chart with a performance like that.”
Although Hamilton is yet to confirm his plans for the 2021 F1 season and beyond, Shovlin believes he is in the peak of his form and capable of adding many more victories to his record-breaking tally of 92.
“You do get some records over time – you realise you’re reaching either 100 races for the team or whatever – but I think with this one, with Lewis, when you look at the names on that list, you can’t believe that we’ve been a part of it as a team getting into the top of the list.
“His achievement is just phenomenal. He doesn’t show any signs of giving up or slowing down or anything either. So I suspect he’s going to go on and hit some more milestones.
“But it’s just a phenomenal achievement. The way that he works, the way that he’s driven to win and driven to improve, to be honest he improves by putting a lot of hours in outside of the car trying to learn everything from every difficult day that he ever has. When you see how he works, it’s almost not surprising that he’s achieved it. But it’s a phenomenal number of races.”
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2020 Portuguese Grand Prix