F1 2020 Portuguese GP: Hamilton on Pole to Break Schumacher’s Record
Lewis Hamilton went into this weekend with one goal in mind, to win a record-breaking 92nd Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The six-time World Champion has given himself the best possible chance of that, by setting the fastest ever lap of the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve.
Mercedes have also locked out the front row in their bid to seal a record-breaking seventh constructor’s championship in a row this weekend.
After a half-an-hour delay to repair several loose drain coverings, qualifying got underway under clear skies and beaming sunshine.
On the green and slippery surface, the soft tyres were used by the entire field throughout Q1. Valtteri Bottas was fastest in the early stages, as he had been throughout all three practice sessions.
Max Verstappen would usurp the Finn, before Hamilton set the fastest time of the session, a 1:16.828.
There were no surprises when it came to the five drivers eliminated from the session. They were the Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen (P16) & Antonio Gionvinazzi (P17). the Haas of Romain Grosjean (P18) & Kevin Magnussen (P19) and the Williams of Nicholas Latifi (P20).
Some of the faster teams attempted to get into Q3 on the medium compound tyres, the preferred race tyre. Bottas set the initial pace on the yellow-marked tyres, a 1:16.466, as Hamilton struggled with traffic.
The defending champion would later set a competitive time though, albeit over three tenths off Bottas’ effort.
Daniel Ricciardo would spin off the track, ending some of the final efforts of the drivers in danger. The Aussie would escape the gravel trap though, so he was able to compete in Q3.
George Russell made yet another Q2 appearance in his Williams, but this was as far as he’d go. It was a valiant effort by the Mercedes development driver though, a P14 grid slot tomorrow is nothing to be sniffed at!
Also missing out on the top ten shootout were Esteban Ocon (P11), Daniil Kvyat (P13) and it was another day to forget for Sebastian Vettel.
The Ferrari driver exited qualifying almost as quickly as he bolted from a press conference this week, a P15 was another dismal effort by the German.
Lance Stroll’s P12 was a fine effort as well, the Canadian recovering from illness and a scary crash with Verstappen in FP2.
Bottas had topped every session so far this weekend, but this is the one which counts the most. The Finn drew first blood, a 1:16.986 just under half a tenth faster than Hamilton.
Verstappen slotted into third place, as Charles Leclerc was almost half a second behind Bottas. It was, as usual, a three-horse race and it was advantage to car number 77.
Ricciardo had to change his rear wing thanks to the crash at the end of Q3. The honey badger couldn’t get back on track in time to set a lap though, he lines up P10.
Strangely, both Mercedes cars chose to use the medium tyres, but this tactic did pay off. Hamilton beat Bottas’ time to top the standings, but could the Finn respond?
Absolutely! Nearly two tenths faster than Hamilton, but Lewis had a second bite of the cherry. Hamilton’s second lap was even more impressive, a 1:16.652, the fastest ever lap of the Algarve circuit and a 97th pole position for the Great Brit!
Bottas will line-up alongside his teammate on the front row. With a long run into the first braking zone, there is a chance for his third win of thre season tomorrow.
Verstappen will fancy his chances too, P3 for the Red Bull man and a sizable gap over Leclerc. Leclerc will be encouraged too, his Ferrari is markedly faster with the new upgrades.
Sergio Perez was a respectable P5 in his Racing Point but it was another poor day for Albon, P6 won’t do his job security any favours.
McLaren were solid but not spectacular, P7 for Carlos Sainz with Lando Norris P8, five thousandths of a second separated the pair.
Pierre Gasly had a solid outing in his AlphaTauri, he starts ahead of the Renaults in P9.
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||+0.252|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+0.571|
|6||23||Alex Albon||Red Bull Racing||+0.785|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||NO Q3 TIME|
|11||31||Esteban Ocon||Renault||1:17.614 (Q2)|
|12||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+0.012|
|16||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:18.201 (Q1)|
|17||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+0.122|
Grid Talk Podcast
Want more reaction to the Portuguese Grand Prix qualifying? Host Owain Medford with panelists Louis Edwards and Rees Evans stared in Grid Talk’s Portuguese GP Qualfying Analysis.
Audio and video versions of the show is linked below: