Round three of the Formula 1 World Championship took a trip to the Algarve for Qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimão. On the twenty seventh anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s death at the track from the previous round, Imola, F1 fans were hoping for an exciting session that would live up to the great man’s memory.
There were sure to be a couple of thrills and spills no matter what, with a myriad of track times being deleted throughout the practice sessions this weekend for track limits infringements, and with strong gusts of wind throwing the cars about. Lewis Hamilton was also hoping to take his one-hundredth career pole position.
Q1: Pérez spins and Ricciardo loses out
With Uralikali Haas F1 Team looking for the first trip outside of the first Qualifying session since their last trip to Portimao in November, they were sorely disappointed after another poor session for the Banbury based team. Hamilton had his first lap-time deleted for track limits and was forced to take another lap on a used set of tyres in order to get through the session. Sergio Pérez spun off into the gravel on turn four because of the strong 17.5km/h winds.
Lance Stroll (Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team) decided not to come back out for another lap and ended up in the bottom five, while Esteban Ocon (Alpine F1 Team) put in a strong final lap to push Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren F1 Team) out of qualifying in the first session. George Russell impressed once again and kept up his streak of getting into the second qualifying session, but Williams Racing team-mate Nicholas Latifi found traffic and was eliminated alongside Ricciardo, Stroll, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
Q2: Russell impresses, Vettel on Form
The Mercedes powered cars of Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas were the first cars out. Both cars from the Scuderia Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and Red Bull Racing teams took Medium tyres for their laps, joined by Russell.
Sebastian Vettel was on good form and pushed his car up into the top ten for the first time since his debut for Aston Martin. He will be hoping this is the start of a good run of form for himself, as he has been very unlucky so far. Russell set an impressive lap time ending up just 0.059 seconds behind Pierre Gasly (Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda) to take eleventh place for tomorrow’s grid.
Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi will start twelfth ahead of Fernando Alonso, with the Spaniard likely to be disappointed with thirteenth after Alpine showed good pace all through practice. The final two drivers eliminated in Q2 were AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and the second Alfa Romeo of Kimi Räikkönen.
Q3: Mercedes on Mediums, Anti-Climactic ending
The all-important final session left plenty to look forward to in tomorrow’s race. Every car barring Max Verstappen and Ocon took an extra lap in order to warm up their tyre temperatures. Verstappen’s first lap was deleted after venturing off track during a tank-slapper at turn four. From the first group of drivers, Bottas set the fastest lap. Verstappen set a faster lap despite his tank-slapper, setting up for a very exciting end to the session that sadly did not come along.
Oddly, both of the Mercedes cars decided to venture out for the final laps on the Medium compound tyres. It seems that the Mercedes team think their car is better set up to warm up the medium tyres to the optimal range than it is for the soft tyres. A confusing choice for fans, who are used to the softest tyres being unquestionably the quickest.
In a disappointing end to the session though, none of the top cars improved on their previous lap times, thanks in large part because the wind picked up, which made driving on what is a very slippery surface even more challenging.
Bottas took pole in the end with a 1:18.348, being the only driver to complete a lap quicker than they did than in the second qualifying session. Verstappen showed his frustration with the result, pushing away the cameras from a conversation he was having with his teammate after parking their cars. His second run was only good enough for third, around 0.4s off the pace, with team mate Pérez running in fourth.
Carlos Sainz Jr. was best of the rest in fifth, the Scuderia Ferrari driver getting it together when it mattered, edging out the impressive Ocon by just 0.003s. Norris failed to replicate his impressive pace in the first two segments of qualifying, when he troubled the top three, ending up seventh for the third straight race.
Charles Leclerc finished three tenths adrift of team mate Sainz in eighth, ahead of Gasly, while Vettel ended a fifteen-race streak of failing to reach Q3 by closing out the top ten.
|1||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:18.722||1:18.458||1:18.348|
|2||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:18.857||1:17.968||1:18.355|
|3||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing||1:19.485||1:18.650||1:18.746|
|4||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||Red Bull Racing||1:19.337||1:18.845||1:18.890|
|5||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||1:19.309||1:18.813||1:19.039|
|6||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Alpine F1 Team||1:19.092||1:18.586||1:19.042|
|7||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1:18.794||1:18.481||1:19.116|
|8||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1:19.373||1:18.769||1:19.306|
|9||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:19.464||1:19.052||1:19.475|
|10||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1:19.403||1:18.970||1:19.659|
|11||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||1:19.797||1:19.109|
|12||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||1:19.410||1:19.216|
|13||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Alpine F1 Team||1:19.728||1:19.456|
|14||22||Yuki Tsunoda||JPN||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:19.684||1:19.463|
|15||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||1:19.748||1:19.812|
|16||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1:19.839|
|17||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1:19.913|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1:20.285|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||GER||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1:20.452|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||RUS||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1:20.912|