Valterri Bottas will start tomorrow’s Portuguese Grand Prix on pole position with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the front row beside him as the Finn recorded his first pole since the Sakhir GP last year.
Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez make up the second row of the grid after Qualifying and it sets up a fantastic spectacle tomorrow at Portimao.
Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin were all eliminated in Q1, with Ricciardo’s elimination a huge surprise given his team-mate Lando Norris was second-quickest in the same session.
Stroll’s failure to advance also came as a surprise as the Canadian was out qualified by his team-mate
A fairly uneventful Q2 claimed George Russell, Antonio Giovinazzi, Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunosa and Kimi Raikkonen as Russell missed out a shot at a top ten starting position on the grid by only 0.057 seconds from Pierre Gasly.
P11 is the Brit’s best grid position so far in a Williams and the team’s best since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix.
Alonso’s elimination was also a little against form with the Alpine looking quick throughout the weekend but the two-time World Champion hasn’t looked as comfortable in the car as his teammate.
There were no strategy surprises with the top ten all setting their fastest times in Q2 on the yellow-striped medium tire and locking them into them for tomorrow’s start in the Portuguese sun.
Q3 was where everyone was expecting the fireworks to come but they never arrived with Verstappen’s first lap time being deleted for track limits before the Dutchman put in a pretty disappointing time to leave him almost 4/10ths off Bottas.
Hamilton finished only 0.007 seconds behind Bottas with over a tenth of a second splitting the two Red Bulls.
Behind them, Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon will line up in P5 and P6, and Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc immediately behind them.
The top ten was rounded out by Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel with the four-time champion having his best qualifying result since his move from Ferrari.
Bottas was happy to grab the 17th pole of his career, admitting after the chequered flag fell that he’s felt more comfortable on the medium tyres all weekend, saying: “
It is a good feeling today to be on pole. It’s been a weak point for me in the first two races, getting the tyres to work but we’ve been working hard. The whole weekend I’ve been feeling better with the mediums, but the wind picked up on the last run. Starting on the medium tyre, we can run as long as we want in the first stint.“
For title rivals Hamilton and Verstappen, it makes for an incredibly interesting start to tomorrow’s Grand Prix after a win apiece from the first pair of races.
Hamilton won here last year while Verstappen’s race was effectively over before it had really begun after a collision with soon-to-be-teammate Sergio Perex left him playing catch-up.
Provisional Grid for the F1 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
- Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
- George Russell (Williams)
- Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine
- Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri)
- Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
- Mick Schumacher (Haas)
- Nikita Mazepin (Haas)