Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas clinched pole for the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix following a track evolution dominated Qualifying session.
Bottas emerged quickest ahead of Mercedes’ teammate, Lewis Hamilton to clinch pole with the pair split by just 0.007 seconds, as wind and track evolution played a surprisingly big role throughout Qualifying.
Max Verstappen meanwhile struggled to third after topping FP3 as we round up all of Saturday’s action in Portimao.
A quiet start to FP3 saw Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll be the first driver to venture out after two minutes, with the Canadian only doing an installation lap before pitting.
Haas’ Mick Schumacher was the first driver to register a lap time of 1m 23.026 on medium tyres before then spinning at Turn 10, aka known as Portimao.
Several drivers eventually entered the fray a few minutes later and exchanged fastest laps with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen emerging fastest after the first 20 minutes of the session with a 1m 19.944 set on soft tyres.
Esteban Ocon quickly displaced Raikkonen just minutes later with a 1m 19.672 on mediums, although he was soon displaced by the frontrunners with Sergio Perez emerging quickest at the halfway point with a 1m 18.840 ahead of Charles Leclerc.
The session was however briefly interrupted by a Virtual Safety Car in the 26th minute to allow marshals to remove an advertising hoarding which had been blown over in the run off area.
Hamilton went quickest in the 31st minute with 1m 18.755 but was displaced seven minutes later by Verstappen who posted a 1m 18.545 to go top, where the Dutchman wouldn’t be dislodged as he eventually improved to a session topping 1m 18.489 lap time.
Hamilton eventually had to settle for second ahead of Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas as Perez, Ocon and Leclerc rounded out the top six ahead of Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly and Raikkonen who completed the top ten.
Norris however was just one of a few drivers alongside Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin who experienced spins during this session in which strong winds blew across the track throughout.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m 18.489|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.236|
|3||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 0.331|
|4||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 0.351|
|5||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 0.371|
|6||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.512|
|7||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 0.561|
|8||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 0.783|
|9||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 0.885|
|10||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.926|
|11||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 0.996|
|12||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 1.093|
|13||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.099|
|14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 1.460 (M)|
|15||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 1.544|
|16||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 1.601 (M)|
|17||George Russell||Williams||+ 1.638|
|18||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 1.725 (m)|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 2.192|
|20||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+ 2.201|
Nikita Mazepin was first driver out on track as several drivers opted to get in early bankers, with Sainz setting the early pace but Bottas soon seized control and set the pace with 1m 19.205 and eventually topped Q1 with 1m 18.722 ahead of Norris.
The bottom five at the halfway mark contained George Russell, Schumacher, Nicholas Latifi, Mazepin and Hamilton who had his lap time of 1m 18.726 deleted for exceeding track limits.
Track evolution however rapidly improved with only Russell and Hamilton both escaping the drop, as McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo became a shock Q1 exit in 16th place ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.
With windy conditions and constant track evolution, almost everyone quickly filed out for two warm-up laps to get the tyres up to temperatures but the two Ferrari drivers opted for one warm-up lap with Leclerc heading Sainz after their first fliers.
Up front, Hamilton topped Q2 with a 1m 17.968 on his first flier as Russell, Yuki Tsunoda, Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi and Raikkonen concluded the opening runs in the drop zone.
Sainz however was the only driver to escape the drop and advance Q3 but Russell outqualified Giovinazzi and Alonso who had dropped down to 13th after failing to improve, with Tsunoda and Raikkonen rounding out the Q2 exits in 14th and 15th respectively.
Norris was first out on track as everyone but Ocon, Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel headed straight out for two warm-up laps. Verstappen instead opted for one warm-up lap which backfired after his first flier was deleted for exceeding track limits.
Up front, Bottas set a 1m 18.348 which proved enough for pole as Hamilton completed an all Mercedes front row after falling 0.007s short, whilst Verstappen recovered to third ahead of Perez as track evolution fell away to stop most final lap improvements.
Sainz was fifth ahead of Ocon who was the only driver to improve on their first Q3 flier as he put his Alpine sixth on the grid ahead of Norris, Leclerc, Gasly and Vettel.
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1m 18.348|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.007|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.398|
|4||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 0.542|
|5||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 0.691|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 0.694|
|7||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 0.768|
|8||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.958|
|9||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 1.127|
|10||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 1.311|
|11||George Russell||Williams||1m 19.109|
|12||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.107|
|13||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 0.347|
|14||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 0.354|
|15||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.703|
|16||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||1m 19.839|
|17||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 0.074|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 0.446|
|19||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 0.613|
|20||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+ 1.073|