Follow live coverage of the Portuguese Grand Prix below after Mercedes reasserted their position as the team to beat in Formula One during an impressive qualifying display. Valtteri Bottas pipped teammate Lewis Hamilton to the front of the grid – denying Hamilton his 100th career pole – forcing Max Verstappen and Red Bull to settle for a distant third at the Algarve International Circuit.
Red Bull seemed to lack the pace of the opening two races, where Verstappen went close in Bahrain before clinching a comfortable victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola last time out. His gap of four tenths from Mercedes in qualifying suggests the young Dutch driver has it all to do to earn a second win of the season in Portugal.
“I’m not sure we had the fastest car but we made a big step forward,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said. “We had an 18.2 from Max deleted because of track limits. On the other side, Valtteri had a very good first lap in Q3. So I would say we caught up a lot in qually. Maybe [we were] on par. We think we have a good racing car.” Vertsappen meanwhile was unhappy with a lack of grip. “I didn’t enjoy one single lap this weekend, just because of the state of the track,” he said. “The layout is amazing but the grip we are experiencing, I don’t think it’s nice. I know it’s the same for everyone, but for me personally, it’s not enjoyable to drive.”
LAP 38/66: Everything goes to plan for Hamilton and he comes out of the pits in 2nd place, but six seconds ahead of Verstappen. Perez is the new race leader, but the Red Bull is yet to pit.
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 15:59
LAP 37/66: Verstappen gets ahead of Bottas, who looked to be struggling on his new tyres. Now Hamilton pits…
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 15:58
LAP 37/66: Now Bottas pits – it’s a 3.3 second pit stop, which is enough for the Mercedes driver to keep his place ahead of Verstappen. But the Red Bull is on the attack…
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 15:58
LAP 36/66: Verstappen pits! He comes out in fourth, behind Perez, and is now running on hard tyres.
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 15:56
LAP 35/66: Further back, George Russell has dropped to 17th after starting 11th. Norris, Sainz and Leclerc are in midfield, taking up the spots from 8th to 10th, but they’ve all had a stop. Ricciardo is 5th and is putting together an incredible drive – but he’s yet to stop.
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 15:55
LAP 34/66: Hamilton is setting a new fastest lap every time he crosses the line, those tyres seem to be performing well, despite the concerns he has expressed on the team radio.
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 15:53
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 15:52
LAP 30/66: Bottas keeps Verstappen at bay, while Hamilton continues to build his lead out in front. Mercedes will like how this is playing out, but the upcoming pit stops will be key and there’s a long way to go.
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 15:50
LAP 28/66: Verstappen is within 0.6 seconds of Bottas but is unable to make a move on the pit straight. It looks like he will go for it at the end of his lap, with the end of the pit straight proving to be the best place to make a pass on the circuit. Red Bull to Verstappen on the team radio: “You’ve got the pace.”
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 15:47
LAP 26/66: Hamilton continues to push the pace and is pulling away from Bottas. He sets another fastest lap, building his lead to 2.5 seconds. Verstappen is closing the gap on Bottas but is yet to get within touching distance.
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 15:44