Valtteri Bottas has taken his first pole of 2021 after Max Verstappen had a quicker time deleted for running off the track.
Verstappen was the first of the front-runners to set a time in the Portuguese Grand Prix pole shootout but had his time cancelled for running off the track at Turn 4 while collecting a moment of oversteer. The Red Bull driver lost time in the snap, but Turn 4 has been designated as a monitored corner for track limit violations, and the stewards were quick to erase his time.
Bottas was then clear to take top spot with a best time of 1m18.348s, and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton slot into second just 0.007s adrift.
He's not called the flying Finn for nothing! 🚀
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The front-running trio’s second runs then underwhelmed. Both Mercedes drivers deferred to the medium tire believing it to be the more performant compound but couldn’t improve on their original times, while Verstappen’s final attempt on a new set of softs failed to match his cancelled first effort, leaving him third and paving the way for Bottas to collect his 17th career pole.
“It’s a good feeling to be on pole — it feels like it’s been a while,” said the Finn. “This weekend we’ve been working hard and it’s nice to see it’s paying off.”
Hamilton couldn’t convert his strong pace in Saturday practice into his 100th career pole, but the Briton was pleased to have his team lock out the front row ahead of title rival Verstappen.
“Great job by Valtteri and a great job by the team,” he said. “We’ve got to be happy with that.
“Not the perfect lap, but I gave it everything.”
Verstappen was visibly shattered to be denied pole through penalty, ruing traffic on his final lap for ruining his single shot at redemption.
“I was confident we could do another good lap, but in the last sector a car in front in the last two corners just disturbs you,” he said.
“All qualifying [the car] was very difficult to drive. I was struggling a lot with grip.”
Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez slotted into fourth alongside Verstappen to lock out the second row.
Carlos Sainz qualified fifth, marking the first time he’s outqualified Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc this season, the Monegasque starting eighth.
Esteban Ocon will start sixth for Alpine ahead of McLaren driver Lando Norris.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly followed Leclerc in ninth and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in 10th. Vettel’s result — 1.3s off the pace — is his first top-10 appearance since the 2020 British Grand Prix, snapping a 15-race pole shootout drought.
Williams driver George Russell will start 11th as the first driver with free tire choice after coming within 0.057s of the pole shootout.
Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi qualified 12th ahead of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who was more than 0.8s slower than teammate Ocon in Q2.
Yuki Tsunoda will line up 14th for AlphaTauri ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Daniel Ricciardo’s elimination in 16th was the shock result of the session. After a final flurry of laps the McLaren driver was caught short for Q2 progression by just 0.042s. The result was particularly disappointing considering teammate Norris was second in the opening qualifying segment and 1.045s ahead on the time sheet.
Lance Stroll also underwhelmed on his way to 17th. The Canadian is the only Aston Martin driver running an updated car this weekend but suffered his first qualifying defeat to new teammate Vettel.
Nicholas Latifi will start 18th for Williams ahead of Haas teammates Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.