25 Oct 2020

A ROLLERCOASTER RIDE TO POLE FOR HAMILTON IN PORTIMAO

As Lewis Hamilton moves almost inevitable to becoming the most decorated Formula 1 driver in history, he yet again proved his resilience under pressure by taking the 97th Formula 1 pole of his career in qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix at the Portimao Circuit.

In a qualifying session delayed by a series of bizarre scenes where trackside maintenance crews hurriedly tried to make temporary repairs to drainage gullies around the circuit, Hamilton again found himself under pressure from both his teammate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Further down the grid George Russell yet again proved his calibre by squeezing every ounce of performance from his Williams to make it to Q2 and finishing in a creditable P14 leaving his teammate Nicholas Latifi plum last on the grid. It was also another dismal day for Sebastian Vettel who failed to make it out of Q1 while his teammate was the best of the rest ending qualifying in P4.

Up to this point Bottas had very much been the form driver dominating the timing boards during practice.

In the final session, the Mercedes drivers ran the theoretically slower soft tyres at the start of Q3, with Bottas going fastest, and then switching to the mediums at the end. However, it was Hamilton’s better qualifying strategy that made the difference when Bottas chose to do a single flat out timed lap at the end of the session, while Hamilton decided on two laps, with a cool-down in between.

With the clock running down and both Mercedes drivers on the track at the same time, Hamilton set the pace on his penultimate lap, before Bottas re-took P1 with his single run before Hamilton regained P1 with the last lap of the session just 0.101secs ahead of his rival. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took third, less than 0.2secs off P1, from Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, a further 0.186secs slower.

Verstappen will start the race on the soft tyres, while the two Mercedes will be on the medium compound. Leclerc will also be starting the race on the same medium tyre as the Silver Arrows, having used it on his fastest lap of Q2.

Behind Leclerc, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was fifth, ahead of the second Red Bull of Alex Albon, the McLarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who did not take part in Q3 after damaging his rear wing in a spin at the end of Q2.

In post qualifying interviews the drivers reflected on an unpredictable session.

“In the end, I should have gone for two,” a contrite Bottas said afterwards.

An upbeat Hamilton commented, “We have a great car, but you have to drive the nuts off it to pull out a lap. Valtteri has been so quick and I have been digging and digging to try to find the extra time. I chose to do three laps to have a stab at beating his time. He chose one and I thought it could provide me with an opportunity, and it worked.”

Sebastian Vettel reflected on another disappointing qualifying commenting, “It’s not just getting beaten. It is almost like a different league… I try everything I can. The laps I am satisfied with are still too slow. I try to bring the best out of myself and the car. I can’t do more than that.”

HOW THE GRID SHAPES UP

1
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
2
Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes
3
Max Verstappen
Red Bull
4
Charles Leclerc
Ferrari
5
Sergio Perez
Racing Point
6
Alexander Albon
Red Bull
7
Carlos Sainz Jnr
McLaren
8
Lando Norris
McLaren
9
Pierre Gasly
AlphaTauri
10
Daniel Ricciardo
Renault
11
Esteban Ocon
Renault
12
Lance Stroll
Racing Point
13
Daniil Kvyat
AlphaTauri
14
George Russell
Williams
15
Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari
16
Kimi Raikkonen
Alfa Romeo
17
Antonio Giovinazzi
Alfa Romeo
18
Romain Grosjean
Haas
19
Kevin Magnussen
Haas
20
Nicholas Latifi
Williams

JDC is looking forward to welcoming everyone back to Formula 1 in 2021 for what is expected to be a very exciting and closely run season. If you’d like to experience any of the races on the 2021 calendar, then take a look at our Paddock Club™ hospitality packages or contact JDC Promotions and let us build a bespoke package for you and your guests.

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ianhucklesby

Editor-in-Residence, JDC Promotions Media Centre