Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has become Formula One’s record all-time race winner with a dominant 92nd career victory at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver took the chequered flag a huge 25.592 seconds ahead of second-place team-mate Valtteri Bottas on Sunday, and 34.5 seconds clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for his eighth win of the season.
Hamilton had equalled Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record 91 wins at the previous race at the Nuerburgring.
He also took an extra point on Sunday for the fastest lap to extend his huge championship lead to 77 points over Bottas with just five races left in the coronavirus-affected season.
Hamilton is within reach of equalling Schumacher’s record of winning seven championships.
He took a record-extending 97th career pole position, starting ahead of Bottas and Verstappen on a track being used for the first time in F1.
“I only ever dreamed of being where I am today,” he said after the race and a long hug with his father Anthony, who managed his early career.
“I didn’t have a magic (crystal) ball when I chose to come here (Mercedes) – and all we have ever tried to do is make the most of it every single day. We are all rowing in the same direction.
“I have got my dad here which is amazing and my step-mum Linda – and Roscoe (his dog) – so it’s a very special day. It’s going to take time to sink in, but I was still pushing coming across the line.”
On the team radio, he emotionally told Mercedes that it was “such an honour to work with you” and his race engineer Peter ‘Bono’ Bonnington replied, saying: “It’s the same here, an honour, genuinely.”
After the race, Hamilton added: “I really owe it all to these guys for their teamwork, continually innovating and pushing the barrier ever higher every year.”
He had cramp, he said, in his right calf in the closing stages of the race.
“Lifting my foot down the straight, it was pretty painful. I could feel it pull, but I had to get through it. It is what it is.”
His Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff, who has helped guide Hamilton to five of his world titles and the team to an unprecedented six in a row, said: “Who would’ve thought when we started this project in 2013? It’s almost a surreal number of wins.
“From Lewis, it’s his absolute passion and energy and its everything he puts into the sport – and the talent and the ability. He’s just standing out.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished fourth with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly fifth at the Algarve circuit near Portimao that was hosting Portugal’s first Grand Prix in 24 years.
Sainz was sixth with Renault’s Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo eighth and ninth.