Hamilton takes pole from Portuguese Grand Prix pace setter Bottas


Lewis Hamilton achieved his 97th pole position in Formula 1, edging out his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas – who set the pace in every session leading up to the top ten shootout. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen tried his best and will start P3.

After a 30-minute delay to fix a drain cover, the teams were unleashed for the first-ever contemporary Formula 1 qualifying at the Algarve International Circuit.

In the top ten shootout, Bottas set the bar at one minute, 16.986 seconds, 0.047 seconds quicker than Hamilton. For the second runs, Mercedes switched to the medium tyres, with Hamilton taking provisional pole with one minute, 16.934 seconds, to pip Bottas by a tiny margin of 0.052 seconds.

Bottas struck back with a lap of one minute, 16.754 seconds, only for Hamilton to respond with one minute, 16.652 seconds on his second flying lap (Bottas only did a single run) that sealed pole position.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start third, having briefly split the Mercedes, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Sergio Perez qualified fifth for Racing Point, ahead of Alex Albon’s Red Bull. The McLarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were next up, ahead of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri followed by Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo who didn’t run after his Q2 off.

In Q2, Bottas was fastest on the medium tyres with one minute, 16.466 seconds, 0.358 seconds faster than Hamilton on similar compound. Verstappen was 0.572 seconds off in third, complaining of “no grip” despite using the softs, while Ricciardo escaped a spin at Turn 11 on his last lap to just make Q3.

Knocked out at this point were Renault’s Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll in the Racing Point, Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri, an impressive George Russell for Williams and a less impressive Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari, whose gamble to make Q3 on mediums, like teammate Leclerc, failed by a long way.

In Q1, Hamilton set the fastest time at one minute, 16.828 seconds, 0.051 seconds quicker than Verstappen, with Bottas a tenth off the pace.

Falling at the first hurdle were the Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, the soon-to-be-dumped Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, and Nicholas Latifi in the Williams.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with the pole position. That’s his 97th in Formula 1. Incredible qualifying performance from the six-time world champion. Feel sorry for Valtteri Bottas, who set the pace in every session leading up to Q3, but when it matter, his Mercedes teammate found that extra edge to go on top.

Portuguese Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:16.652
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:16.754
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:16.904
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:17.090
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:17.223
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:17.437
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:17.520
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:17.525
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.803
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault –
11 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:17.614
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:17.626
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.728
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:17.788
15 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.919
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:18.201
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:18.323
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:18.364
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:18.508
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:18.777

5 thoughts to “Hamilton takes pole from Portuguese Grand Prix pace setter Bottas”

  1. Portuguese Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Out of nowhere, Lewis Hamilton delivered his best lap of the weekend to topple Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas and take a sensational pole position for the returning Portuguese Grand Prix…

    The reigning world champion was second-best to Bottas through all three practice sessions and the first two segments of qualifying, and was slower after the first runs in Q3 at Portimao.

    Mercedes changed strategy for the final runs, swapping over to the medium tyres on both cars. However, Hamilton opted to head out early to squeeze in two flying laps on that compound, while Bottas went for one.

    The Finn beat Hamilton with his lap, but the Briton had one more lap in his pocket, and he made it count to take his 97th career pole position, relegating Bottas to second spot, in an all-Mercedes front row.

    Max Verstappen took up his now customary position of third on the soft tyres, impressively only one-and-a-half tenths adrift of the Silver Arrows, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc delivered one of his best laps of the year to go fourth.

    Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was an impressive fifth, one place ahead of Alex Albon, half a second slower than Red Bull team mate Verstappen, while Carlos Sainz won the battle of the McLarens but only just with 0.005s separating him from Lando Norris.

    Pierre Gasly ended up a strong ninth, getting the better of his AlphaTauri teammate once more, with Daniel Ricciardo completing the top 10, albeit without setting a timed lap having run off track at the end of Q2.

    Q1 – Mercedes cruise through as Russell delivers again

    Qualifying was delayed by 30 minutes as repairs were carried out on a handful of drains around the race track, one of which was dislodged by Vettel during final practice on Saturday morning.

    With those complete, most of the field wasted no time in heading out on track to crack on, with the Mercedes duo waiting for a few minutes before leaving the comfort of their garage.

    Bottas followed up his FP3 pace-setting time with top spot on his first attempt, which included a slide in Turn 13, with Hamilton backing out of his first lap – with traffic a real issue – and then going second with his next tour.

    Hamilton and Verstappen opted to do cool down laps before going again for another push lap, with Hamilton improving to go quickest, just 0.050s ahead of Verstappen, the duo both having down six laps on their respective sets of softs.

    Vettel gave himself lots to do, after having a time deleted for exceeding track limits, but did what was required on his final run, jumping up to eighth. Russell impressed, too, with his final flyer, leaping out of the drop zone to get through in P15, 0.8s quicker than Williams team mate Nicholas Latifi.

    Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen plus Latifi were kicked out, the former 0.25s adrift.

    Knocked out: Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Grosjean, Magnussen, Latifi

    Q2 – Bottas beats Hamilton again as Vettel gets the boot

    Bottas kept his grip on top spot once again as Hamilton appeared to be baulked by Vettel, forcing him to back off and go once more. That next lap was easily good enough for second, albeit it three tenths of a second adrift of his team mate.

    Impressively, they eased to those times on the medium tyres with only Ferrari following suit with that strategy. Leclerc did a stunning job, to get through on that rubber, which gives him a great strategic option for Sunday’s race. His team mate Sebastian Vettel didn’t make it work though, ending up 15th, one place behind the Williams of George Russell.

    Esteban Ocon backed out of his final lap to get knocked out in 11th, one place behind Renault team mate Daniel Ricciardo who made it through despite a spin into the gravel – which he recovered – in the closing stages of the session.

    Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, returning having missed the Eifel Grand Prix with Covid 19, and the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat were the other two drivers to take an early bath.

    Knocked out: Ocon, Stroll, Kvyat, Russell, Vettel

    Q3 – Hamilton delivers when it matters

    It was as you were at the start of Q3, with Bottas going quickest by just half a tenth of a second from Hamilton, with Verstappen just a tenth slower in third, setting up a tantalising battle for pole position.

    Mercedes then delivered a shock by heading out on the mediums, rather than the softs, for their final runs, the Silver Arrows feeling that compound is quicker in the current conditions. Albon headed out on the same rubber, too.

    Hamilton used the new boots well to go quickest, by half a tenth of a second, but Bottas kept his head, setting purple times in the first two sectors and finishing off with a personal best to go quickest of all.

    But Hamilton had left the garage early, allowing him to do two flying laps on the medium tyres, and that made the difference as the six-time world champion was able to improve again, doing enough to take pole – his ninth of 2020.

    This was Mercedes’ 13th consecutive pole position, the sixth longest streak of all time with Williams leading the way with 24 across 1992 and 1993, while Bottas’ defeat comes after he was quickest in every practice session leading up to qualifying.

    Leclerc starts fourth for the second consecutive race, the Monegasque outqualifying Vettel for the ninth consecutive race.

  2. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton explains “counter-intuitive” medium tyre choice in Q3. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Portuguese Grand Prix pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes let its drivers choose between taking the soft or “counter-intuitive” medium Formula 1 tyres at the end of qualifying at Portimao.

    Although both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas had progressed to Q3 on the harder rubber to give themselves a strategic advantage at the start of the race on Sunday – not an uncommon tactic given the big pace differences between the teams in 2020 – unusually they completed their final qualifying runs on the mediums.

    Hamilton prevailed with his last lap right at the conclusion of the session, which came at the end of a rare double run, which he said he chosen to complete to get “an extra stab” at overturning the narrow advantage Bottas had held throughout practice and after the opening runs in Q3.

    Both Mercedes drivers had initially set their Q3 times on the red-walled soft rubber, which is proving hard to warm up on the front wheels and provide the usual advantage over the harder tyres on the new, low-grip Portimao asphalt.

    “Combined with the smoothness of the track, the difficulty that we have with these tyres, and the battle that I’m having with Valtteri, it’s making it hard and harder for me each weekend,” said Hamilton.

    “He’s been quickest all weekend this weekend, all through practice, and even into some of this session. So, I didn’t know whether or not I was going to get a lap that would be able to compete with his.

    “I was always off by a tenth, half a tenth, whatever it is, but that last decision I took at the end is what I think really created the opportunity.

    “We were both given the opportunity to choose between the soft and the medium tyre, which is kind of counter-intuitive going to the medium, because we usually just stay on the soft throughout Q3.

    “But the idea of having an extra lap, an extra chance, an extra stab at getting pole looked good to me.

    “So I chose to go that extra lap, and I think Valtteri chose the one. But he still did a great job.

    “It was still very, very tough, I had to dig very deep – luckily I think I got the last sector just about right. But still, it was so close.”

    When asked by Motorsport.com how pleased he was to be starting on the medium tyres for tomorrow’s race, which may yet be impacted by wet weather in Portugal, Hamilton said: “I think it’s going to be a very tricky race.

    “Particularly [with] the harder tyre – it doesn’t work for several laps, so it’s going to be interesting at the beginning.

    “We’ll obviously lose a bit of performance to Max [Verstappen, who used the softs in Q2] and the guys behind on the softs.

    “Really don’t know what to expect tomorrow – it’s supposed to rain. So that means it’s going to be the hardest day for us all if it does.

    “Wind and rain – that would really be ice [on the low-grip asphalt].”

  3. Valtteri Bottas says he regrets opting for just a single lap run in his final qualifying effort at the Portuguese Grand Prix after losing pole position to Lewis Hamilton.

    The Finn had looked on course to take the top spot at the Algarve circuit, but was pipped in the closing seconds by Mercedes F1 teammate Hamilton, who had opted to do two timed laps at the end of Q3.

    Reflecting on how the session had panned out, Bottas reckoned that his call to just go for a single lap with the medium compound was the wrong one.

    “The medium actually felt a tiny bit quicker than the soft, and then it was choosing if we do two timed laps, with a cool down in between, or just one timed lap,” said the Finn.

    “Obviously, with one timed lap you can have less fuel in the car, but you might struggle with the tyre warm-up. I went for that. It was my decision to go for one timed lap, because it worked in Q2, but apparently it seems like doing two timed laps for Lewis was better.

    “It was a decent lap, not perfect. It’s been tricky here to get really clean laps this weekend because of the way the track is, but I mean the lap was good. I think ultimately I should have gone for two timed laps as well.”

    Hamilton said that with Bottas having been so quick throughout practice, he felt going for a three-lap run was the only way he was going to have a chance to get ahead.

    “Valtteri has been so quick this weekend,” said the world champion. “He’s topped every session and I’ve just been digging and digging and digging and trying to find that extra time.

    “At the end there, I chose to do three laps to give me a chance to have a stab at beating his time. And I think he decided to do one. So I was like, ‘okay this could provide me an opportunity and it worked.’ That last lap got better and better as I went through.”

    Hamilton said Mercedes left the call on the length of the final runs down to each driver, and he opted for the two timed laps because of the difficulties in getting the tyres working on the smooth asphalt surface.

    “We had the choice of going on to the soft or to the medium,” he said. “We both chose to go to the medium. He chose to do one lap, I chose to do three, because we had the time.

    “So I got out there nice and early. And, you know, the medium tyres…the tyres are very hard here this weekend. We’ve got the hardest of the compounds and getting them to work here is, believe it or not, it’s very, very difficult. So that’s why I wanted to have an extra run just in case the first one wasn’t that great. And it worked perfectly.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  4. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen admitted grip levels left him ‘confused’ in qualifying. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Max Verstappen found qualifying for the Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix “confusing” as changing grip levels meant he ended up setting his fastest time in Q1.

    Drivers have been struggling with grip levels at Portimao throughout the race weekend so far due to a combination of the recently resurfaced track and the hardest possible tyre selection.

    Verstappen was able to qualify third for Red Bull on Saturday, finishing just 0.252 seconds off the pole position time of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

    But the Dutchman set his best time of qualifying in Q1, going 0.025 seconds faster than on his Q3 lap, as he struggled for grip amid minimal track evolution or improvement.

    “Already the whole weekend has been really tricky with getting the tyres to work,” Verstappen said. “Besides the tyres, the Tarmac is slippery. [There is] just one line you can take.

    “Overall, still good of course to be third, but a bit confusing throughout qualifying. I did my fastest lap time in Q1, and after that I couldn’t replicate it, just because I didn’t have the same grip.

    “Of course the time runs down in Q2 and Q3, you have less time to do your laps. It seemed like it was a bit more difficult for us to get the tyres in a better window, even though I think in Q3 to Q2, it felt a bit better on let’s say the one timed lap, on the very first timed lap.

    “It was better, but for me, not very enjoyable to drive at the moment with the tyres and grip on the track.

    “I was here in January and I thought it was going to be amazing to drive a Formula 1 car, the grip we have. For me personally, you can’t push. You’re just driving on ice. It’s a bit of a shame.”

    Verstappen appeared to be in contention for pole position ahead of the final runs in Q3 as both Mercedes drivers opted to switch to medium tyres, with Hamilton improving to take pole ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas.

    It marked the second race in a row where Verstappen had looked closer to the Mercedes drivers in qualifying than at previous races, but he felt it was hard to judge if Red Bull had truly cut the gap.

    “Again we were very close, [it’s] just difficult to really judge again the performance because of the tyres and the grip,” Verstappen said.

    “I think we have to go to a track again where we have driven before, like the last few years, and see where we ware, because we have a bit more knowledge there.

    “These kind of events are sometimes hit and miss. Sometimes you can do them better than others. But still, to be P3 and be quite close to them is a good achievement I think.”

  5. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel commented that Charles Leclerc is in a “different class” after another Q2 exit. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc is simply in a “different class”, after another frustrating qualifying result at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

    While Leclerc was able to grab fourth place on the grid to confirm Ferrari’s recent progress, Vettel endured difficulties switching his tyres on in Q2 and ended up in 15th spot.

    Speaking to Sky Germany afterwards about the difference between him and Leclerc, he said that his teammate was miles away.

    “It’s not just beating, it’s like a different class,” he said. “I try everything I can. I think the laps I hit, and I’m satisfied with them, are still too slow. At the moment there is nothing more I can do than to get what I have inside me.”

    Vettel tried to get through Q2 on the medium tyre but his efforts were in vain. And although his pace on the soft in Q1 would have been enough to make it, he still thinks he did the right thing in committing to the medium for both runs.

    “I actually had a pretty good feeling after the first try,” he said. “But in the second run, the tyres didn’t get up to temperature at all. I locked a wheel right at Turn 3 and then the lap was already messed up.”

    The German said that he had no answer as to why he had those difficulties, considering how good he had felt with the first medium lap effort.

    “I don’t know why I have such a hard time getting the tyres up to temperature, and that it feels a bit different every time. As I said, the car felt good the first time I tried it.

    “I thought that with the medium I could easily repeat the time of Q1. That was the target, but it wasn’t that easy.”

    Vettel said that there was also a reluctance to go for the soft because he had experienced graining with it in free practice.

    “I’ve been struggling a bit with the soft tyres all weekend,” he said. “For me, the tyres quickly let go and we got graining.

    “The medium tyre seemed to be more durable. In the first attempt I had a good feeling and it was a good lap. Then I thought the time should be easy. But I couldn’t get the tyres to work.”

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