Max third at qualifying Portimao: 'Not ideal but we'll try to fight'

Published on 01 May 2021 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen will start the Portuguese Grand Prix in third place. His fastest time in Q3 was deleted due to him having exceeded track limits, giving both Mercedes the upperhand. Valtteri Bottas took the pole home, a mere seven thousandths up on Lewis Hamilton. Sergio Perez took the second Red Bull to the second row, next to Max.

“The whole qualifying was difficult to drive because we were struggling a lot with grip. The layout of the track is amazing but the grip we are experiencing, I don’t think it’s nice. I know it’s the same for everybody but for me personally it’s not enjoyable to drive”, says Max, who saw his fastest lap time – good enough for pole – being deleted. “Q2 was decent but I had a big moment in Turn 4 so I went a bit off track. That corner is flat and suddenly the car just snapped on me and I ran a bit wide. I was quite confident we could do another good lap. In the last sector a car in front in the last two corners just disturbs you and with the low grip we really have and the tough wind out there it cost me a lot of lap time. A difficult session but it is what it is.” Looking to the race tomorrow, where Max has two Mercedes ahead of him he says: “It’s of course not ideal but we’ll try to fight them in the race.”

In the first part of qualifying, Max clocks the eleventh fastest time (1:19.485), just seven tenths a stray from Bottas. As oppose to many of his colleagues the Dutchman only does one run. The first five drivers sent to the showers are: Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Nicolas Latifi (Williams) and both Haas-drivers (Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin). Striking is of course that the Ozzie fails to make it to Q2, the last time that happened was in Japan 2019.

Many drivers head out on track in their first run in the second part of qualifying on the medium compound tyres. With a 1:19.099, Max is well over a second a stray from Hamilton. But then he decides to do an additional lap, he improves to 1:18.650 and his fifth fastest, six tenths down. The Mercedes, Red Bulls and Leclerc (Ferrari) will, in any case, start the race on the medium compound tyre. Drop outs in Q2 are: George Russell (Williams), Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), Fernando Alonso (Alpine), Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) and Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo).

In Q3 on his first run, Max does a 1:18.209, but that time is deleted as he exceeded track limits. This puts Bottas with a 1:18.355 on pole, team mate Hamilton trails, seven thousandths down. Perez is third fastest, half a second away from Bottas. The Finn and Hamilton both do their second run on the mediums.  

On his second run, a 1:18.746 is the best Max can extract from his car, putting him third fastest behind both Mercedes. They fail to better their times on the yellow walled medium compound tyres. As a consequence, Bottas takes pole for the Portuguese Grand Prix. Perez (Red Bull) starts fourth fastest, ahead of Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and Esteban Ocon (Alpine).

Contest GP Portugal: win a 1:4 scale model 2020 Max helmet!

Results qualifying Portugal:

posdriverteamq1q2q3
1Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:18.7221:18.4581:18.348
2Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:18.8571:17.9681:18.355
3Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda1:19.4851:18.6501:18.746
4Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda1:19.3371:18.8451:18.890
5Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:19.3091:18.8131:19.039
6Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:19.0921:18.5861:19.042
7Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:18.7941:18.4811:19.116
8Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:19.3731:18.7691:19.306
9Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri Honda1:19.4641:19.0521:19.475
10Sebastian VettelVETAston Martin Mercedes1:19.4031:18.9701:19.659
11George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes1:19.7971:19.109
12Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:19.4101:19.216
13Fernando AlonsoALOAlpine Renault1:19.7281:19.456
14Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda1:19.6841:19.463
15Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:19.7481:19.812
16Daniel RicciardoRICMcLaren Mercedes1:19.839
17Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:19.913
18Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes1:20.285
19Mick SchumacherMSCHaas Ferrari1:20.452
20Nikita MazepinMAZHaas Ferrari1:20.912