Tricky Q3 circumstances
Sir Lewis Hamilton was denied his 100th career pole on Saturday afternoon, as Valtteri Bottas put in a statement lap during Q3 to secure a Mercedes front-row lockout.
The Mercedes driver saw off his teammate by just 0.007 seconds as neither could improve on their initial Q3 laps having opted for the medium tire set for the final run.
Furthermore, it was an underwhelming final ten minutes of qualifying. Max Verstappen had his initial lap time deleted which would’ve seen him on pole, and he could only muster the third-fastest time, 0.2 seconds off Bottas, leaving the Dutchman a frustrated figure during the post-race interviews.
Sergio Perez proved he has the capability again as he starts fourth tomorrow, just behind his partner. The Red Bull driver was just 0.144 seconds behind Verstappen and is really providing evidence that he has the talent and skill to battle with the big boys this year.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz out-qualified his teammate Charles Leclerc for the first time this season as the Spaniard secured an impressive fifth place for Sunday’s race.
Bottas was the sole driver in the top five to improve on their Q2 times. Hamilton managed to smash his way into the 1.17s, a feat he was not able to replicate in Q3.
This was largely down to the increased tailwind that was present on the track, which made it more difficult for drivers to max out at top speed.
Esteban Ocon finally showed everyone what the Alpine is capable of, as the Frenchman continued an impressive weekend, managing to qualify sixth, ahead of Fernando Alonso who spun at the end of Q1, had been quick in the first few laps. The veteran driver was only able to secure 13th with his car.
A Saturday to forget for Ricciardo
The Honey Badger provided the shock result of the session, as his McLaren finished in 16th, nine places behind his teammate Lando Norris, who has proven to be a real force in Formula One over the last two seasons.
Ricciardo really struggled to put a lap together in Q1, he seemed to be fighting with the car and was unable to muster enough to even progress into Q2.
His quickest time was over a second slower than Lando, who also felt his Saturday at Portimao could have gone better. However, the Aussie still feels there are points to be gained during the race tomorrow, and seems determined to make amends for poor performance.
Another driver who seemed off the pace in comparison to their teammate is Lance Stroll. The Canadian driver managed a measly 17th place and was three tenths off the pace of Sebastian Vettel’s fastest lap over the course of qualifying.
Vettel made it through to Q3 for the first time since Silverstone which highlights the struggles he has been having over the last year. However the German will be thrilled to finally be back into the top ten shootouts, and despite finishing bottom during Q3, he has given himself an excellent opportunity to score some points tomorrow.
George Russell shines again
George Russell, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, and Max Verstappen are all 23 or under. It is a credit to them as to how superb their performances and general rise into Formula One has been over the last few years.
George Russell perhaps deserves a large majority of the plaudits, as he once again put on a magnificent display in a Williams car that never seems competitive, but yet is somehow always finding itself out of Q1 with Russell behind the wheel.
George secured P11 during qualifying, he really is Mr. Saturday. His performance was flawless in a car that is in the bottom three teams on the grid. However, Russell is constantly able to brake perfectly and direct his car through the right lines, and the consequence of this is that he starts just outside of the points position on Sunday.
Nicholas Latifi starts 18th and is out-qualified by his teammate again. Whilst both Haas cars slot in for the back places for Sunday’s grid, with Mick Schumacher in 19th and Nikita Mazepin in 20th.
The Alfa Romeo’s had a quiet session, with Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen finishing 12th and 15th respectively.
It was similar for Alpha Tauri as Pierre Gasly edged ahead of Vettel in Q3 and secured 9th, whereas his teammate Yuki Tsunoda had an underwhelming session, finishing 14th.
1. Valterri Bottas (Mercedes)
2. Sir Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
6. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
7. Lando Norris (McLaren)
8. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
9. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
10. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
11. George Russell (Williams)
12. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
13. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
14. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri)
15. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
16. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
17. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
18. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
19. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
20. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)