Portuguese Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has won an immense qualifying showdown between himself and teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Lewis Hamilton has won a thrilling qualifying battle between himself and teammate Valtteri Bottas. The Championship leader had been trailing Bottas following the first runs in Q3 on the Soft tyre compounds but, with track conditions falling away from the drivers, both Merc drivers opted to swap to the Medium compound for the final, crucial runs.
Hamilton went out first, and put in a 1:16.934 on the Mediums to take provisional pole away from Bottas, before the Finn responded with a 1:16.754 to push Hamilton down to P2. Max Verstappen was a brief interloper on the Soft tyres as he slotted into P2 with a 1:16.904, but Hamilton had come out early enough to do a second lap on the Mediums. He did a 1:16.652 to take back provisional pole, and Bottas couldn’t respond as he’d come out too late in the session to fit in another flying lap.
As a result, Hamilton took pole with his Medium tyre lap of 1:16.652, to finish a tenth clear of Bottas, with Verstappen in P3 with his Soft tyre lap. Both Mercs had also made it through Q2 on the Mediums, meaning they’ll start on that compound.
Charles Leclerc finished a brilliant P4 as Ferrari continue to find pace with their SF1000, with the Monegasque finishing just a tenth behind Verstappen on the same Soft compound. Like the Mercedes drivers, Leclerc made it through Q2 on the Medium tyres, meaning he’ll start on that compound.
Sergio Perez claimed P5 for Racing Point, having been consistently strong throughout the session, while Alex Albon finished P6 for Red Bull Racing. He was half a second off the pace of Verstappen in Q3. Carlos Sainz led an all-McLaren fourth row by claiming P7, just 0.005 clear of teammate Lando Norris with both on the Softs in Q3.
Pierre Gasly finished P9 as he got his Alpha Tauri into Q3 once again, while Daniel Ricciardo will start from P10. The Renault driver made it into Q3 but couldn’t take part. He went off and clouted the barrier with his rear wing right at the end of Q2, and the team couldn’t get the car repaired sufficiently to get him out on track for Q3.
Esteban Ocon will start from P11 after being knocked out in Q2 for Renault, while Lance Stroll marked his return to F1 after missing the Nurburgring round with a P12 grid slot for Racing Point. Daniil Kvyat was P13 for Alpha Tauri, while George Russell was P14 for Williams. Sebastian Vettel was P15 for Ferrari, having also tried to get through Q2 on the Mediums. Unlike Leclerc, Vettel struggled for pace and didn’t opt to change to the Softs for the second run. A small improvement on his final flyer wasn’t enough to get him into Q3.
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