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.”
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 16:20
LAP 52/66: Perez comes out of the pits behind Bottas – and it’s not close. Bottas has a 25-second lead over the Red Bull.
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 16:19
LAP 51/66: Hamilton retakes the lead from Sergio Perez, who had completely run out of pace on his old tyres. Perez immediately pits.
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 16:17
LAP 48/66: Hamilton has closed the gap on Perez to 3.3 seconds over the last few laps and is moving well, setting another fastest lap.
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 16:14
LAP 46/66: Perez is told on the team radio that Red Bull want him to stay out on his medium tyres for 10 more laps. Nikita Mazepin, running in last, gets in the way of Perez, who is not at all pleased.
Bottas sets a new fastest lap. Mercedes to Bottas: “You’re the fastest man on track. You can really push it.”
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 16:11
LAP 44/66: Hamilton sets a new fastest lap, closing the gap to Perez to 9.2s. How much longer will the Red Bull be able to stay out on the medium tyres? He’s almost 20 laps away from a win, but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to last that long.
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 16:09
LAP 42/66: Ricciardo comes in for his pit stop and after a slight delay comes out in 10th. It means there’s a clear gap between the Mercedes and Red Bulls and the rest of the field. Norris, in fifth, is 27 seconds behind Bottas.
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 16:06
LAP 40/66: So Mercedes’ strategy looked to have worked perfectly, until Bottas slid under pressure from Verstappen following his pit stop and the Red Bull took advantage to overtake him. The main thing, though, is that Hamilton retained his spot ahead of Verstappen, but Red Bull hold the joker card with Perez out in front having not pitted so far this race.
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 16:04
2) Hamilton (one stop) + 12s
3) Verstappen (one stop) + 15s
4) Bottas (one stop) + 18s
5) Ricciardo (no stops) + 26s
Jamie Braidwood2 May 2021 16:02
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