Lewis Hamilton says he was “discovering new lines” throughout the Portuguese Grand Prix as he ultimately stretched out an advantage to claim a commanding win.
Hamilton recovered from a slow first lap, in which he dropped to third position, to challenge Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas for the lead.
Once through on Bottas Hamilton opened a convincing gap to and finished 25 seconds clear at the head of the pack.
“I felt through the race that I was learning, lap on lap, more about the circuit,” said Hamilton on a venue that was new to Formula 1.
“I was trying lots of different lines and discovering new lines that worked well.
“The wind direction was very, very tricky, I think, lots of crosswinds, headwinds and tailwinds and there was some positions that you could utilise to your favour and others that kind-of get in the way.
“I think the key is the times when you have a tailwind, it’s minimising the loss through those stages. Set-up was something that I really focussed on.
“It was less about qualifying set-up, and more for the race set-up and I think that enabled me to go one better, I guess, than before.
“I just felt like I was generally getting faster and faster throughout the race – but I had to keep up the pace for these tyres. That was really the key.”
Hamilton dropped to third in the space of a handful of corners after ceding position to Bottas and McLaren’s fast-starting Carlos Sainz.
But he said he was not overly worried by the situation.
“It was very tricky and obviously it started to spit [with rain] so when you’re often the first car into the corners at the start of a lap when it is spitting, you’re the first one to hit those raindrops, you’re the first one to hit those patches of circuit,” he said.
“It’s different when you’re in second, because you can react, often, to the car ahead but I struggled.
“I got to Turn 5 which was not so bad but then in Turn 6 I had that massive oversteer moment and realised I still had low grip and Valtteri came by.
“I was overly cautious, I would say, through seven and kind of just generally let them by into eight, didn’t even defend and he seemed to have more grip than me at that moment.
“Of course, I didn’t understand why, but I was sure that at some stage I would get there and I knew that it’s a long, long race here, so I just kept my cool and just focused on trying to keep the car, the thing on the track, not make mistakes, and keep myself in the race.”