Lewis Hamilton won last year’s Portuguese Grand Prix from pole position, with the fastest lap, but Formula One’s most successful driver can take little comfort in that result ahead of Sunday’s 4pm return to Portimao.
Another pole would make Mercedes’ seven-time world champion the first F1 driver to reach 100 but Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is the man to beat and could keep the Briton waiting.
There is only a point between the pair after the season’s first two races, with Hamilton ahead solely by virtue of a fastest lap at Imola on April 18 despite Verstappen having the quicker car.
Both have won once and finished second once but Verstappen has led more laps – 90 to 29 – and can go top at last.
The Algarve circuit, and the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona next week, could provide a clearer indication of their battle.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner says: “If we can put Mercedes under a little bit of pressure at these tracks then that bodes well for the rest of the year.
“I always said it would take four races to get a clear picture of form, so now is the acid test.”
Alan Baldwin | [email protected]