Bottas tops Mercedes-dominated qualifying session

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Portugal, Autódromo Internacional do Algarvept

Valtteri Bottas edged his team mate Lewis Hamilton at the qualifying session for the Portuguese Grand Prix to secure his 17th career pole position. Red Bull's duo of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will line up third and fourth on the grid tomorrow.

Busy session - Q1

With the challenging conditions, the majority of the field was in a big rush to head out to register a banker lap. Despite posting the fastest lap time early on, Lewis Hamilton had his first real push lap deleted as he exceeded the track limits at Turn 1. The Briton needed several other laps to find his rhythm thereafter and put a lap together which he could feel comfortable with.

After slightly low-key practice performance, McLaren’s Lando Norris replicated what he did at Imola a couple of weeks ago by only extracting the maximum of his papaya car in the all-important qualifying session. The Bristol-born ended up second fastest with a time of 1m18.794 in the first qualifying session which ultimately saw Valtteri Bottas post the fastest time.

The biggest shocking result was delivered by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo who was unable to get himself into the second qualifying session. The dismal result leaves the Perth-born driver with the 16th starting position for tomorrow’s Portuguese Grand Prix. Behind the Australian, Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin will line up on the grid in tomorrow’s second-ever F1 race at Portimao.


Race strategy - Q2

With Pirelli expecting most of the drivers to try to execute a one-stop strategy in tomorrow’s Portuguese Grand Prix, it was less surprising to see the majority of the remaining fifteen drivers head out on the yellow-banded C2 Pirelli compound. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas shocked the field by posting the weekend’s best lap with a 1m17.968 and a 1m18.458 respectively.

Apart from the Mercedes duo, Max Verstappen was also able to qualify himself for Q3 on the Medium compound while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also succeeded, albeit he needed two sets of fresh medium compound.

George Russell earned praise from his team after he secured P11 with his Williams. Next to the young Briton, Antonio Giovinazzi, Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda and Kimi Räikkönen were knocked out at the end of Q2.


Worsening conditions - Q3

Each driver headed out with a set of soft tyres when the lights went green in the last qualifying segment. The first runs saw Max Verstappen register the fastest lap, but the Dutchman’s time was deleted as he exceeded the track limits at Turn 4.

The 23-year-old driver’s mistake left Valtteri Bottas head the leaderboard, followed by his teammate Lewis Hamilton. After his sensational time of 1m17.968 on the medium compound in Q2, the Briton only managed a 1m18.355 on the softs on his first flying lap in Q3, which left the Anglo-German team puzzled.

There was huge pressure on Verstappen as he was down in P10 after his mistake on his first push lap. The Dutchman was unable to replicate his time, but it was still enough for the third position. Due to their struggles on the soft compound, Mercedes sent their drivers on the yellow-walled tyres, although neither of them managed to find any improvements, leaving Bottas atop, who ultimately beat Hamilton by seven thousandths of a second.

Ferrari continued to demonstrate their improved form by Carlos Sainz ending up fifth fastest and Charles Leclerc securing the eighth starting position. The Monegasque could have ended up higher up on the grid as he was the driver to lose the most due to the worsening track conditions in the closing stages of the qualifying session.

After his recent struggles, Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel showed that he still has what it takes to be part of the world’s best drivers. The German managed to get himself into Q3 with an eye-catching lap in the middle part of the qualifying session and ultimately ended up tenth.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
177Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:18.7221:18.4581:18.34823
244Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:18.8571:17.9681:18.35524
333Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:19.4851:18.6501:18.74620
411Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA1:19.3371:18.8451:18.89022
555Carlos SainzFERRARI1:19.3091:18.8131:19.03923
631Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT1:19.0921:18.5861:19.04217
74Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES1:18.7941:18.4811:19.11624
816Charles LeclercFERRARI1:19.3731:18.7691:19.30629
910Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA1:19.4641:19.0521:19.47526
105Sebastian VettelASTON MARTIN MERCEDES1:19.4031:18.9701:19.65922
1163George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:19.7971:19.109-15
1299Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:19.4101:19.216-19
1314Fernando AlonsoALPINE RENAULT1:19.7281:19.456-12
1422Yuki TsunodaALPHATAURI HONDA1:19.6841:19.463-17
157Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:19.7481:19.812-19
163Daniel RicciardoMCLAREN MERCEDES1:19.839--11
1718Lance StrollASTON MARTIN MERCEDES1:19.913--10
186Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:20.285--9
1947Mick SchumacherHAAS FERRARI1:20.452--11
209Nikita MazepinHAAS FERRARI1:20.912--11