Portimao played host to the exact same results as last year. Valtteri Bottas clinched pole, but teammate Lewis Hamilton beat him to secure P1.

The only thing different was the means by which Bottas struggled, as he was hindered by an exhaust sensor issue in his car that prevented him from charging at Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.

Bottas ensured damage control by gaining the fastest lap point, but even before his sensor issue came up, he was considerably slower and less stable than his teammate.

Hamilton cruised to P1, never looking like throwing his lead away. He won 25 seconds ahead of Verstappen. This blistering race from the Brit was down to a car setup.

According to Motorsport, both Mercedes drivers ran with a different rear-wing setup. Bottas raced with a much lighter wing and less vertical thrust than his teammate. Hamilton had the advantage of a double support pylon of the wing, and the lack of a central ‘V’ around the flap.

During qualifying, the heavier wing meant Hamilton couldn’t beat Bottas. But during race day, as the wind started blowing stronger, Bottas’ rear stability was compromised.

This meant Hamilton, with his greater power due to the recent thrust engine mapping, came out of Portimao’s tricky final corner and onto the main straight much faster than Bottas.

These differences helped Hamilton go from a safety-car-enforced P3 to overtaking Bottas and Verstappen.

These automotive setups will be key in the WDC, and it will boil down to the drivers using them effectively.

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