F1 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix Preview: Will Hamilton or Verstappen reign supreme in Portugal?

It’s fair to say that the 2021 Formula 1 season has gotten off to a real bang. Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have won one grand prix apiece, setting up a titanic title battle that should rage all season long.

Round 3 brings us to the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao, Portugal. The Portuguese Grand Prix made a very welcome return to the F1 calendar last year and is a popular retention from 2020’s fill-in races.

So, what does this weekend have in store? Here’s our low-down of everything you need to know ahead of the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix!

Track Guide

This is the second grand prix that Portimao will host. Image: F1

Portimao is a modern circuit, but unlike most, it wasn’t designed by Tilke. That means it’s surprisingly good, with a brilliant mix of medium and low-speed corners.

The circuit is also notable for its elevation changes, being one of the most undulating tracks in the world.

Overtaking is rarely possible anywhere aside from Turn 1, but this is an easy passing spot thanks to DRS and a very long flat-out zone from Turn 14.

Last time out

Max Verstappen battled it out for the lead against Lewis Hamilton again at Imola

Two weeks ago, we were treated to an awesome contest at Italy’s famous Imola circuit. The Emilia-Romagna GP served up a real treat, as Hamilton and Verstappen again battled it out for the lead.

The defending champion started on pole, but it was Verstappen who got the best start from P3 and led after the Tamburello chicane.

Hamilton suffered damage to his Mercedes, but despite this and the wet conditions, he kept relatively close to Verstappen.

Sir Lewis was closing on Max, but a spin while lapping slower cars saw him fall a lap down. However, a clash between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell brought out the red flags and gave LH44 a chance to regain lost ground.

Hamilton powered through from ninth to second by the chequered flag, but it was Verstappen who dominantly won by over 20 seconds.

Lando Norris brought home a very popular podium for McLaren in third, while Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz scored very solid points for Ferrari in P4 and 5.

Who will be fastest in Portugal?

Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been the standout performers in 2021 so far. Image: Motor Sport Magazine

For the first time since 2018, we have a real title battle between two different teams. Red Bull have begun 2021 with arguably the fastest car on the grid, but even this isn’t clear.

Over one lap, the jury is still out for who is the fastest on the grid. Verstappen claimed pole in Bahrain by over three tenths of a second, but Hamilton stole pole at Imola by the slimmest of margins.

Hamilton could claim his 100th pole position in F1 this weekend, a record no driver is within 30 of his tally. The seven-time champion could well start in P1, but could be in trouble if Bottas doesn’t perform.

Sir Lewis could drive the race of his life, but if Red Bull have both their drivers at the front, it will likely be either Verstappen or Sergio Perez standing on the top step on Sunday afternoon.

Session times

Practice 1: 30 April               11:30-12:30 (6:30-7:30 AM EST)

Practice 2: 30 April               15:00-16:00 (10:00-11:00 AM EST)

Practice 3: 1 May               12:00-13:00 (7:00-8:00 AM EST)

Qualifying: 1 May               15:00-16:00 (10:00-11:00 AM EST)

Race: 2 May              15:00-17:00 (10:00-12:00 EST)

All times are in British Standard Time (BST), unless stated otherwise. Note: BST is also the same time zone as Portugal.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Portuguese GP weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their preview for this weekend’s race at Portimao. George Howson hosted Tom Horrox, Phil Mathew and Henrico Marks to discuss all of the talking points ahead of Round 3. Audio and video versions of the show are available below:

Leave a Reply