May 6, 2021

Bottas Nips Hamilton For Pole In Portugal

Valtteri Bottas (left) bested teammate Lewis Hamilton (right) to earn the pole for the Portuguese Grand Prix. (Mercedes Photo)
Valtteri Bottas (left) bested teammate Lewis Hamilton (right) to earn the pole for the Portuguese Grand Prix. (Mercedes Photo)

PORTIMAO, Portugal – Valtteri Bottas became the third different pole winner in as many Formula One races Saturday after securing the pole for the Portuguese Grand Prix at Algarve Int’l Circuit.

The Mercedes driver nipped his teammate and defending Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton by .007 seconds to secure the pole, the 10th of his Formula One career. Hamilton will start second after falling just short of his 100th career Formula One pole.

“We worked hard to figure out the issues I was experiencing in qualifying, we put things right and this is the result – it’s more like how it should be, so I’m happy,” Bottas said. “In the first two races, I knew the speed was there but my main issue was tire warm-up. We’ve put a lot of focus on that, we learned some lessons and I always knew our hard work would pay off. The key was to stay calm, execute the plan and focus on the small details, particularly on the out-laps.

“We’ve been stronger than expected which is a positive surprise but it’s only qualifying, I’m already thinking about tomorrow. We know the Red Bulls have a strong race car and we are expecting an epic battle.”

Max Verstappen qualified third, but actually set the fastest time in the final round of qualifying. However, that lap time was deleted for a track limit violation.

“Third is of course not what we wanted but it’s not too bad after I had a Q3 lap time deleted, which would actually have put us fastest even though I lost time with the snap at turn four,” Verstappen said. “We struggled with the balance in Q1 and Q2 because of the track surface, and everyone is chasing grip, but we got to a decent level in Q3 so I don’t think we are too far off. It was really one of those sessions where you could end up in P1 or P3 out of the blue.

“You could do a lap which was pretty good and then put another set of tires on, and if you had just a little bit of a different out lap and tyre preparation, with the lack of grip around here it makes a big difference and is hard to predict. I think we are still competitive and it will be different in the race tomorrow. Our long runs have been ok and although it’s going to be hard to follow with the grip levels we will first focus on a clean start and then put the pressure on.”

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez qualified fourth, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr., Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, McLaren’s Lando Norris, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel completing the top-10.