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The 2019 Italian Grand Prix was Formula 1 at its best – at least for the first 41 laps. Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton didn't trade the lead once, but from the moment the race started until the Mercedes driver's mistake on the brakes at Turn 1 on lap 42 through to Valtteri Bottas's late chase, it was a race on a knife edge. Tense, tight, briefly explosive and relentless, it had echoes of the legendary Michael Schumacher versus Fernando Alonso battles at Imola in 2005-6.
For 63 minutes, Leclerc could not let up. Save for the two laps on which first the Ferrari driver and then Hamilton pitted, there was never more than 1.589 seconds between them at the end of the lap. On average, the gap at the line was just 0.951s. Leclerc's first win at Spa the weekend before might have been the breakthrough, but it was his victory at Monza under the most intense pressure from one of grand prix racing's true greats that signalled he has come of age in a race where teammate Sebastian Vettel made yet another costly error.
OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.
Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition
Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory
Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.
As a highly-rated Mercedes junior, George Russell is naturally billed as Lewis Hamilton's heir apparent where Britain's next Formula 1 champion is concerned. But he may face competition for that accolade from Lando Norris, fresh from a confidence-boosting run to third at Imola whose rise is being accelerated by his McLaren team’s revival
The news this week that F1 has green-lit 'sprint qualifying' races that will determine the grid for three grands prix in 2021 was met with a blend of excitement and scepticism. But before those in both camps can be vilified, F1 must first work out what its criteria is for success - and what will justify making them a more permanent fixture
A rapid ascent through the junior categories meant Yuki Tsunoda's arrival in Formula 1 was always going to be much-hyped. It's not been smooth sailing for Red Bull's latest protege so far, but his confidence has never wavered - something he'll need to rely on to continue his progress into the driver he believes he can be.
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