Having endured his worst start to an F1 season since joining Mercedes and following a race-ending crash last time out with George Russell at Imola, Bottas returned to form at Portimao as he swept to his first pole since the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.

Neither Mercedes driver was able to improve in the final runs of Q3 but the Finn’s best lap - a 1m18.348s - saw him pip Hamilton by just 0.007s and prevent the seven-time world champion from becoming F1’s first driver to reach a century of poles.

Bottas’ fastest Q3 effort ended up being slower than what Hamilton had set on the Medium tyres in Q2 but it was just enough to seal the 17th pole of his F1 career and act as a welcome confidence boost.

Max Verstappen was third-fastest after an error on his first lap of Q3 resulted in the Red Bull driver seeing his best lap - which would have been good enough for pole - deleted for track limits, before the Dutchman’s final Q3 lap saw him wind up almost 0.4s adrift.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez was a further tenth back in fourth, ahead of Carlos Sainz, who claimed his best qualifying result yet for Ferrari in P5.

Esteban Ocon sealed a brilliant sixth on the grid for Alpine and fell short of fifth spot by just 0.003s, with McLaren’s Lando Norris just behind in seventh.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was eighth ahead of AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly, while Sebastian Vettel enjoyed his best qualifying yet for Aston Martin as he made it into Q3 and took 10th.

Russell bounced back from his crash with Bottas at Imola with another superb Saturday display as he advanced to Q2 for the third time this season and claimed his best qualifying result for Williams in 11th, missing out on a first-ever Q3 appearance by just 0.057s.

12th place went the way of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who outpaced Fernando Alonso as the two-time world champion failed to join his Alpine teammate in Q3.

After crashing out in qualifying at Imola, Yuki Tsunoda put his AlphaTauri into Q2 on his way to taking 14th, ahead of the second Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen, who was left frustrated by traffic.

Daniel Ricciardo was the biggest scalp of Q1 as the McLaren driver had a scrappy lap while others improved to knock the Australian out in the opening part of qualifying for the first time since the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix.

Despite running upgrades on his Aston Martin, Lance Stroll was unable to progress from the first segment of qualifying and finished a lowly 17th, ahead of only Nicholas Latifi’s Williams and the Haas rookie duo that were once again headed by Mick Schumacher.

FULL QUALIFYING RESULTS FOR THE 2021 F1 PORTUGUESE GRAND PRIX.

 

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