Lewis Hamilton left it late to claim the 97th pole position of his Formula 1 career, pipping Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas with a late effort in qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

In an unusual climax to Q3, both Mercedes drivers opted to run on Medium tyres rather than the theoretically-faster Softs, with Hamilton managing to turn the tables on Bottas, who had topped every session at Portimao heading into the pole shootout.

Bottas had sat on provisional pole during the first Soft runs in Q3, before the Mercedes duo switched onto Mediums for the final flying efforts.

Hamilton initially set the pace on Mediums, before Bottas hit back to reclaim top spot with a lap that was 0.180s faster than the Briton.

But crucially, Hamilton, who can set the record for most wins in F1 this weekend, had time for an extra run and snatched his ninth pole of the 2020 season by 0.102s with a 1m16.652s.

Max Verstappen briefly split the Mercedes but ended up in his usual third place running on Soft tyres, managing a lap that was 0.252s off Hamilton’s benchmark.

Charles Leclerc was a brilliant fourth for Ferrari, ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, who managed to outqualify Alex Albon in the second Red Bull to take fifth on the grid.

The qualifying honours at McLaren went the way of Carlos Sainz, who outpaced team-mate Lando Norris by just 0.005s, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo, who failed to set a time in Q3 after suffering rear-wing damage with an off late on in Q2.

Esteban Ocon will start 11th after he failed to join Renault teammate Ricciardo in the top-10 shootout, ahead of returning Racing Point driver Lance Stroll.

Daniil Kvyat was 13th-quickest for AlphaTauri, with George Russell making it into Q2 for the seventh time this season as he turned in another brilliant qualifying display to seal 14th amid uncertainty over his future at Williams.

Sebastian Vettel endured a scruffy qualifying as he could only qualify 15th-fastest on Medium tyres, as he suffered a number of lock-ups on his runs.

Russell’s late heroics meant Kimi Raikkonen dropped out in Q1 as he finished up as the fastest Alfa Romeo driver, edging teammate Antonio Giovinazzi by just over a tenth.

The outgoing Haas duo of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were down in 18th and 19th, ahead of the sole Q1 exiting Williams of Nicholas Latifi, who ended up slowest of all.

FULL QUALIFYING RESULTS FOR THE 2020 F1 PORTUGUESE GP.

 

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