Lewis Hamilton can reach the pinnacle in F1’s first trip to Portimao in Portgual

Lewis Hamilton Schumacher wins
Joe Portlock/Getty Images

On a circuit hosting its first Formula One race, Lewis Hamilton finally can stand alone among F1 greats by beating the record for wins by Michael Schumacher.

Victory at the Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday would move the British driver onto 92 race victories, and surpass the German legend’s mark of 91 that for so long had been considered untouchable.

“I remember sitting at home watching the Grand Prixs and watching Michael win,” Hamilton said. “I remember going upstairs with my brother afterward, and we would play computer games together and I would be Michael. So it’s very, very surreal.”

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A victory also would bring Hamilton a step closer to matching Schumacher’s record of seven F1 championship titles. He leads the championship by 69 points ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas after winning seven of the first 11 races, and with only five remaining after Sunday’s contest at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve.

When Hamilton moved level with Schumacher on 91 wins at the Eifel GP in Germany two weeks ago, Schumacher’s son Mick Schumacher — who leads the F2 championship — presented a visibly moved Hamilton with one of his father’s racing helmets from his time at Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton was touched after being presented by Mick Schumacher with a helmet of Michael Schumacher for matching his record of 91 race victories (Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images).

“I was really honored by Michael’s family when they presented me with this helmet,” Hamilton said.

It was Schumacher’s retirement from Mercedes — and F1 itself — which opened the door for Hamilton to make what was then considered a risky move when he left McLaren to join the Silver Arrows.

Bottas led the Eifel GP after taking pole position but then ceded first place to Hamilton after a clumsy braking error. A despondent Bottas had to retire the car after 12 laps due to a failed electrical component in the engine.

“Seeing Lewis cross the line in Germany and take his 91st victory was a very special moment. Valtteri’s race, however, could not have gone much worse,” Mercedes’ head of motorsport Toto Wolff said. “But one of Valtteri’s biggest strengths is his resilience and his ability to bounce back.”

Still even a win in Portugal would do little for Bottas’ chances of catching Hamilton, unless his teammate endures some bad fortune of his own in the handful of races remaining.

Portugal’s 4.65-kilometer (2.9-mile) circuit — known as Portimao — is an undulating one with frequent elevation changes and where overtaking is expected to be difficult. It is the second new race of a coronavirus-hit campaign after the Tuscan GP at Mugello last month.

If Sunday’s race is anything as intense as that crash-marred event at Mugello, then F1 fans will be in for a treat.

For Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen it represents a chance to put themselves in the market for a seat next season. The U.S.-owned team with Ferrari engines announced on Thursday that the duo will be replaced next year, having scored only three points between them so far.

“The last chapter is closed and the book is finished,” said Grosjean, the veteran French driver.

For Hamilton, the story continues.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.