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