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F1 Portuguese GP: Bottas beats Hamilton to pole position by 0.007s

Valtteri Bottas denied Lewis Hamilton a 100th Formula 1 career pole as the Finn topped qualifying for the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix with Max Verstappen third for Red Bull.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

F1’s top two teams opted for different tyre strategies for the final runs in Q3, with the Mercedes drivers returning to medium tyres 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 Bottas’s 1m18.348s 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 0.007s advantage from the soft tyre runs gave him his first pole of 2021.

Verstappen lost his first Q3 flying lap time - a 1m18.209s that would have been good enough for pole if it had stood - after 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 Dutchman 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 0.398s slower than Bottas.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

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

Esteban Ocon was sixth for Alpine ahead of McLaren's Lando Norris and Ferrari's Leclerc, with Pierre Gasly ninth for AlphaTauri.

Sebastian Vettel, making his first Q3 appearance since the 2020 British GP, took 10th for Aston Martin.

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, and here they were joined in this tactic by Leclerc.

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

Behind the top 10 runners, George Russell came very close to a first career Q3 appearance as a Williams driver as he took P11, ending up 0.057s adrift of Gasly’s P10 time in Q2 – crossing the line as the last of the runners setting flying laps in the middle segment.

George Russell, Williams FW43B

George Russell, Williams FW43B

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

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 second Alfa.

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.

With Ricciardo and Stroll not finding enough time on their final efforts in Q1, it allowed Russell to maintain his 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.

F1 Portuguese Grand Prix - Qualifying results

Q3

Cla Driver Chassis Time Gap
1 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1'18.348  
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1'18.355 0.007
3 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 1'18.746 0.398
4 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 1'18.890 0.542
5 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1'19.039 0.691
6 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 1'19.042 0.694
7 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 1'19.116 0.768
8 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1'19.306 0.958
9 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1'19.475 1.127
10 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1'19.659 1.311

Q2

Cla Driver Chassis Time Gap
1 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1'17.968  
2 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1'18.458 0.490
3 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 1'18.481 0.513
4 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 1'18.586 0.618
5 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 1'18.650 0.682
6 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1'18.769 0.801
7 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1'18.813 0.845
8 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 1'18.845 0.877
9 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1'18.970 1.002
10 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1'19.052 1.084
11 United Kingdom George Russell Williams 1'19.109 1.141
12 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1'19.216 1.248
13 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 1'19.456 1.488
14 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1'19.463 1.495
15 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1'19.812 1.844

Q1

Cla Driver Chassis Time Gap
1 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1'18.722  
2 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 1'18.794 0.072
3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1'18.857 0.135
4 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 1'19.092 0.370
5 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1'19.309 0.587
6 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 1'19.337 0.615
7 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1'19.373 0.651
8 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1'19.403 0.681
9 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1'19.410 0.688
10 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1'19.464 0.742
11 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 1'19.485 0.763
12 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1'19.684 0.962
13 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 1'19.728 1.006
14 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1'19.748 1.026
15 United Kingdom George Russell Williams 1'19.797 1.075
16 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1'19.839 1.117
17 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1'19.913 1.191
18 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams 1'20.285 1.563
19 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas 1'20.452 1.730
20 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin Haas 1'20.912 2.190

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