Bottas takes pole position at Portimao

Valtteri Bottas denied his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by coming out on top in qualifying for 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix with Imola winner Max Verstappen only third for Red Bull Racing.

The sport’s top two teams opted for different tyre strategies for the final runs in Q3, with the Mercedes drivers returning to medium compound with which they had dominated in Q2, and used to top qualifying at Portimao in 2020, while Verstappen stuck with the softs throughout.

But the tyre change did not work for either of the Black Arrows drivers, as Valtteri’s lap of one minute, 18.38 seconds that was set on the first Q3 runs on the softs ended up being the pole time.

Both Bottas and Hamilton could not improve on their final efforts, which meant the former’s 0.007 seconds advantage from the soft tyre runs gave him his first pole of 2021.

Verstappen had lost his first Q3 saving an oversteer snap to the right as he ran through Turn 4 and beyond the track limits onto the back straight and so was under extra pressure for the final runs.

The Red Bull driver was also only taking a single warm-up lap on the tricky low-grip surface compared to the two most other drivers completed.

Despite having to pass traffic on what would be his sole legal Q3 lap, Verstappen reached third but ended up 0.398 seconds slower than Bottas.

Behind the leaders came Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz, who outqualified Charles Leclerc for the first time as a Ferrari driver.

Esteban Ocon was sixth ahead of Lando Norris and Leclerc, with Pierre Gasly ninth for AlphaTauri.

Sebastian Vettel, making his first Q3 appearance since the 2020 British Grand Prix, took tenth for Aston Martin. This is a great result for the four-time world champion after a difficult period of racing. Hopefully this will build up his confidence.

In Q2, the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers progressed through on the medium tyres as has become typical to start on the preferred rubber for the opening stint of the race, but here they were joined in this by Leclerc.

Both Ferrari drivers started Q2 on the mediums, but while Sainz switched to softs to ease his Q3 progression, Leclerc preserved with the harder rubber and did enough to get by with a personal best on his second flying run on the same set at the end of the end of the segment.

Behind the top ten runners, George Russell took P11 for Williams, ending up 0.057 seconds adrift of Gasly’s P10 time in Q2 – crossing the line as the last of the runners setting flying laps in the middle segment.

Behind him came Antonio Giovinazzi for Alfa Romeo, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda – the trio all completing personal best laps on their final Q2 runs but still being eliminated nevertheless.

Kimi Raikkonen could not improve on his final run and ended up P15 as a result in the Alfa Romeo.

In Q1, Daniel Ricciardo suffered a shock exit ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, with Norris putting the other McLaren second in the opening segment, which featured Alonso spinning exiting the penultimate corner and Perez losing the rear running through Turn 4 and spinning through the gravel on the exit.

Ricciardo and Stroll not finding enough time on their final efforts in Q1 preserved Russell’s perfect record of getting through to Q2 at all three races so far in 2021, as they failed to jump ahead of the Williams.

But it was Ocon’s late jump to fourth on his last lap that meant Ricciardo could not progress.

At the back, Nicholas Latifi led the two Haas cars, with Mick Schumacher finishing ahead of Nikita Mazepin.

So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas with pole position. After his big crash with George Russell at Imola, this P1 is the perfect result following a tricky start to the championship. The two title contenders are behind and it’s going to be fascinating in the race. Bring it on.

Qualifying position, Portuguese Grand Prix:

1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:18.348
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.355
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:18.746
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1:18.890
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:19.039
6 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:19.042
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.116
8 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:19.306
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:19.475
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:19.659
11 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:19.109
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:19.216
13 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:19.456
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1:19.463
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:19.812
16 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.839
17 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:19.913
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:20.285
19 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1:20.452
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:20.912

5 thoughts to “Bottas takes pole position at Portimao”

  1. Portimao qualifying review as reported by

    Valtteri Bottas made Lewis Hamilton wait for his 100th pole position as he pipped his Mercedes team mate by the slimmest of margins to take pole position for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

    The Finn set the pace on soft tyres after the first run, pipping Hamilton by 0.007s, with Mercedes opting to send both cars out on the mediums, which they seemed to be quicker on, for the second runs.

    However, the wind had picked up for the second runs, and both failed to improve, meaning Bottas will be third different pole sitter in as many races this season, as Mercedes locked out ther 71st front row with ease.

    Max Verstappen, who won from the third on the grid last time out, ended up third quickest – having been forced onto the back foot when his best lap was deleted for track limits infringements.

    His second run was only good enough for third, around 0.4s off the pace, with his Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez running shotgun in fourth.

    Carlos Sainz was best of the rest in fifth, the Ferrari driver needing softs to get through to Q3 after a mistake on his medium run in Q2 but getting it together when it mattered, edging Esteban Ocon’s Alpine by just 0.003s.

    Lando Norris failed to replicate his impressive pace in the first two segments of qualifying, when he troubled the top three, ending up seventh for the third straight race – but that was well clear of McLaren team mate Daniel Ricciardo who made a surprise exit in Q1.

    Charles Leclerc finished three tenths adrift of team mate Sainz in eighth, ahead of Pierre Gasly, as Sebastian Vettel ended a 15-race streak of failing to reach Q3 by closing out the top 10.

    Q1 – Ricciardo gets knocked out for the first time since Japan 2019

    Hamilton put himself under a little bit of pressure when he ran wide at Turn 1 at a gusty Portimao and as he exceeded track limits, the stewards deleted his timesheet-topping time.

    But the championship leader regrouped to clock another lap on the same set of softs which was comfortably good enough to see him through, with team mate Bottas going quickest of all.

    His Red Bull rival Perez lost the rear end at Turn 4, which pitched him into the gravel, but he recovered to the pits content in the knowledge his earlier time would be good enough to make Q2.

    As the session went on, the track got faster and faster, with Sebastian Vettel leaping up from 15th – on the bubble – to a brilliant fourth, that ultimately become eighth.

    But his Aston Martin team mate Lance Stroll didn’t have so much luck, the Canadian – who was given the sole new upgrade package this weekend – getting knocked out in 17th.

    That wasn’t the biggest shock, though, with Daniel Ricciardo missing the cut in 16th, ending the day over a second slower than McLaren team mate Lando Norris, who ended up second quickest, for his first Q1 elimination since the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix.

    Esteban Ocon improved late on to progress, with George Russell just scraping through in P15, as Nicholas Latifi, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin were the last three to exit in Q1.

    Knocked out: Ricciardo, Stroll, Latifi, Schumacher, Mazepin

    Q2 – Russell just misses out on the top 10 as Mercedes impress

    Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Russell opted to head out on the mediums for Q2, which appears to be the best tyre to start the race on, with everyone else on the softs.

    Hamilton didn’t make the same mistake twice, this time doing a build lap followed by a mistake-free push lap that was mighty, dipping into the 1m17s to comfortably set a pace that would not be beaten.

    After the first runs, Russell, Tsunoda, Sainz, Giovinazzi and Raikkonen found themselves in the drop zone, with Norris impressing again with third behind the two Mercedes.

    Red Bull didn’t seem to get as much performance out of the mediums as their silver rivals, with Verstappen and Perez down in fifth and sixth, but it was enough to make Q3.

    Vettel made the top 10 for the first time since last year’s British GP, with the ninth quickest time, with Sainz having to turn to the softs to make it through in seventh, a fraction behind his medium-shod team mate Leclerc.

    Russell missed out on Q3 by just 0.05s, and will start 11th, ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who was nearly a second adrift of team mate Ocon. Yuki Tsunoda and Kimi Raikkonen also failed to make the cut.

    Knocked out: Russell, Giovinazzi, Alonso, Tsunoda, Raikkonen

    Q3 – Bottas gets the job done as Red Bull fail to shine

    The majority of the field opted to do a preparation lap to get heat into their soft tyres before doing a push lap, but Verstappen was not one of them, the Dutchman opting to crack on.

    Unfortunately, he lost the rear end at the top of the hill at Turn 4, which sent him so wide he exceeded track limits and had what would have been a table topping time deleted.

    Behind him, Mercedes made no mistake, with Bottas winning the first battle, pipping Hamilton by the smallest of margins. They then switched to medium tyres, a rubber they had been quicker on than the soft this weekend.

    Neither managed to improve, thanks in large part because the wind picked up, which made driving on what is a very slippery surface even more challenging, meaning Bottas took his first pole since last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix.

    Verstappen and Perez made it two Red Bulls in the top four for the second consecutive race, with Sainz outqualifying Leclerc for the first time in a Ferrari with fifth.

  2. Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton “only had one good lap” in “messy” Portimao qualifying. has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton was left ruing a “messy” qualifying session for the Portuguese Grand Prix on Saturday after missing out on his 100th Formula 1 pole position.

    Hamilton entered qualifying at Portimao looking to become the first driver in F1 history to hit triple figures for pole positions.

    But after setting the fastest time in Q2, Hamilton was unable to match his lap in the final stage of qualifying as he qualified second, 0.007 seconds off teammate Valtteri Bottas on pole.

    Hamilton explained after the session that he found the session difficult due to the windy conditions and lack of grip on the circuit, making it hard to consistently put in good laps.

    “It was a difficult session,” Hamilton said. “I think for everyone it’s not that easy here, particularly as it’s windy and quite slippery on this surface.

    “I think it was challenging for everyone, and quite a messy session really for me. Q1 wasn’t good, Q2 I only had one good lap, and I would say in the whole session, I only had one good lap.

    “Q3 was pretty poor. Valtteri did a great job, given the conditions that we’re in.”

    Hamilton’s Q2 time of 1m17.968s on the medium compound tyre was almost four tenths of a second faster than Bottas’s pole time, which was set on softs.

    Mercedes sent both Hamilton and Bottas back out on mediums for their final runs in Q3, but neither driver could improve on their initial benchmarks.

    “I don’t think it was probably the right decision at the end,” Hamilton said.

    “It’s tricky out there, you see us all having to do multiple laps. The tyres are too hard here, so they don’t work very well with the surface so we have to do extra laps to get temperature in.

    “At the end, just didn’t have very great grip, so couldn’t do the greatest job.”

    Hamilton anticipated that tyres would be an issue following practice on Friday, after which he questioned why Pirelli had brought such a hard selection to Portimao given the low-grip asphalt.

    “I don’t think they’re any more difficult than the previous year’s tyre to be honest,” Hamilton said after qualifying.

    “I think last year here, we were faced with the same issue of a very peaky grip and very narrow grip window. I think that’s really the case today, it felt quite good in FP3 today, and as I said on the Q2 lap, it felt solid, and I thought that we were in the right window.

    “It’s temperatures, there are gusts of winds, so you can be unlucky and get tail winds that perhaps you wouldn’t get on particular corners.

    “It’s a combination of things, and generally not the tidiest and not great laps from myself really. I only had that one in Q2.”

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen thought he could replicate deleted laptime. But will start the Portimao race in P3. has the details.

    Max Verstappen believes he was held up by Sebastian Vettel at the end of Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix qualifying, leaving him third on the grid.

    Red Bull driver Verstappen managed to set the fastest time out of all the first runs in Q3, only for his effort to be deleted after the stewards deemed he exceeded track limits at Turn 4.

    It left Verstappen with just a single run at the end of the session to try and claim his second pole of the season, but he fell 0.398 seconds short of the fastest time, leaving him third on the grid.

    Immediately after qualifying, Verstappen was heard swearing over team radio about traffic from Vettel on his final lap, saying: “Why do the guys not move? I’m on a fast lap!”

    Verstappen’s deleted time of 1m18.209s would have been good enough for P1 had it counted, eclipsing Valtteri Bottas’s pole time of 1m18.349s.

    After having the time scrubbed, Verstappen was confident he could replicate it, only to lose time due to Vettel in the final sector.

    “I thought I can do that lap again, so I go out, I was within a tenth of the lap,” Verstappen explained.

    “Then in the last sector, I lost all my laptime with an Aston Martin in front, and then taking my tow on the line as well.

    “So yeah, messy, but it is what it is.”

    Asked how frustrated he felt immediately after qualifying, Verstappen said the weekend had been “a bit hit and miss anyway” as he struggled to find balance on the low grip surface at Portimao.

    “I didn’t enjoy one single lap this weekend, just because of the state of the track,” Verstappen said.

    “The layout is amazing, but the grip we are experiencing, I don’t think it’s nice. I know it’s the same for everyone, but for me personally, it’s not enjoyable to drive.

    “I started off in qualifying really slow, I had no balance in the car. We slowly got to a point where I was happier, but I was basically compromising one thing, and then losing a bit of performance in the other thing. It was just not nice.

    “Then I had my little moment in Turn 4 in the first run in Q3. At the end, showed that was the fastest lap.

    “It just showed that it was a really difficult session to get any kind of grip in it, because that corner is flat and suddenly out of the blue, the car just snapped on me and I ran a bit wide.”

    Verstappen heads into Sunday’s race looking to take the lead of the F1 drivers’ championship for the first time in his career, currently sitting one point behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who starts second.

    Verstappen said Red Bull’s race pace “seemed alright” through practice, adding: “We’ll see tomorrow what we can do. It’s not so easy to follow here, but if we have good pace, then for sure we’ll put the pressure on.”

  4. A shocked Daniel Ricciardo said he had no proper explanation for finding himself in the “grim” situation of being knocked out in Q1 for Formula 1’s Portuguese Grand Prix.

    The Australian had had an encouraging first day of practice in Portugal, but could not pull a lap together in Q1 on Saturday to get himself through to the second part of qualifying.

    It means he will line up 16th on the grid, which is his worst start since the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix.

    Reflecting on what went wrong, Ricciardo said there was no obvious answer as to why he was lacking pace compared to teammate Lando Norris.

    “Yeah, big, big disappointment,” said Ricciardo. “I’m still in a little bit of shock actually just how the session went. To be out in Q1, it’s really like your worst nightmare as a driver.”

    Ricciardo said that being slowed by traffic did not help his cause, but that did not offer the full explanation as to why he wasn’t on the pace.

    “The medium at the beginning of the run was okay, but we just didn’t really get a clean lap. And then the soft, it was just messy, messy.

    “Already into Turn 1, I didn’t feel I was helped with some traffic. And then the end of the lap I was just trying to hang on to the rear of the car, I just didn’t really get going from really the start of the lap.

    “Then I was trying to probably play catch up at the end, which just meant a lot of mistakes. Yeah, not a good one.”

    He added: “But why we struggled or why it was difficult to put a lap together it’s not so clear at the moment. I think there’s a few things for sure and there’s some tenths left on the table.

    “But it was tricky. So yeah, 16th is grim. It’s not a result I feel good about at all.”

    Ricciardo has worked hard since Imola in trying to tweak his driving style to better suit what his McLaren car needs, but says after feeling that had helped on Friday, it was ‘dark’ that things had been so bad on Saturday.

    “I’m still trying to get out of, let’s say, a little bit of an old style,” he explained. “So I’m still quite conscious about how I approach every corner

    “I felt like yesterday I’d made a good step towards that, and I certainly felt comfortable yesterday or more comfortable than a couple weeks ago. So that’s why to be standing here now it’s pretty dark.”


  5. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas says work addressing tyres was the “weak point” which led to pole position. has the full details.

    Valtteri Bottas feels his efforts addressing a previous 2021 Formula 1 qualifying “weak point” in finding the new Pirelli tyres’ best operating temperatures led to his Portuguese Grand Prix pole.

    Bottas failing to warm up his tyres sufficiently in Q3 last time out at Imola meant he slumped to eighth on the grid, and further struggles with retaining tyre temperature in the Emilia Romagna race meant he was lapped before half distance, just before he was eliminated in his enormous accident with George Russell.

    The issue of good tyre warm-up has been a central theme to the Portimao weekend so far, with drivers across the field struggling on the smooth, low-grip surface, but Bottas was able to put his previous troubles behind him to claim his 17th F1 career pole ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton in Q3 on Saturday.

    The two Mercedes drivers did still have tyre temperature drama late on, as they failed to recapture their Q2 pace on the medium tyres for their final runs in Q3, which Bottas said was perhaps down to “the wind [picking] up in the last run and I couldn’t quite get the temperature [again]”.

    “It’s a good feeling to be on pole,” Bottas said after climbing from his W12 in parc ferme.

    “It feels like it’s been a while. It was nice to get a good qualifying – it’s been the weak point for me in the first two races, [with] getting the tyres to work.

    “Again this weekend we’ve been working hard and it’s nice to see it’s paying off and puts me in a good position for tomorrow.”

    Speaking later in the post-qualifying press conference, Bottas said the result “certainly put a smile on my face”.

    He added: “Because in the first two races of the season, the qualifying really from my side hasn’t been, at least in the Q3 session, the strong point.

    “Getting everything out of the tyres and for the tyres to work well has been a bit of a weakness.

    “But now it felt like things were starting to go in the right direction. I’ve been feeling strong all weekend, so I knew it was possible, and definitely makes me really happy to put it together in Q3 and be on pole.

    “As a team as well, with the pressure and with the battle with Red Bull, it’s good to be ahead.”

    When asked what was behind his tyre warm-up breakthrough, Bottas replied: “Out laps, looking at those things – it’s so much about tyres.

    “And yeah, just also trusting your own work and set-up direction. Everything.”

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