F1 – Portuguese GP – Qualifying

Olá, MiniFans! Portimao did well last season and it earned a contract renewal for this season. The rollercoaster, as it’s affectionately known, provided incredible racing and it was only fair that it got another chance.

As usual, Q1 kicked off with Haas being the firsts on track, as well as FIA’s new favourite pastime, deleting lap times due to leaving the limits of the track. Sainz was soon on top, but his happiness was cut short as Hamilton’s first timed lap was finished. It would be deleted but Bottas came through in order to keep a Mercedes in the top spot. In a track as short as this one, traffic could be an issue, especially in a session with all twenty cars on track. All eyes were on Hamilton who, due to one thing or another, needed a handful of laps until he could put in a decent time. With just a few minutes to go, Vettel triggered everyone into getting back on track thanks to jumping from fifteenth to fifth. The last rush saw the first big surprise of the weekend in Ricciardo getting booted while his teammate managed to snag a formidable second place. The eliminated drivers in Q1 were Ricciardo (P16), Stroll (P17), Latifi (P18), Schumacher (P19) and Mazepin (P20).

Barely anyone chose the soft tyre for their first lap in Q2, but even then, some of those didn’t look like they could make it to the top ten. Once again, it was the last minutes that offered the spectacle we’re used to. Softs littered the track, fitted on cars that were on the brink of making it or not into Q3, but it wasn’t enough for most of them. The eliminated drivers in Q2 were Russell (P11), Giovinazzi (P12), Alonso (P13), Tsunoda (P14) and Raikkonen (P15).

The first runs in Q3 set the Mercedes on top, barely seven thousands of a second separating them, while Verstappen got his lap time deleted and would have to take a bigger risk on his last attempts. In a not so surprising move, Mercedes decided to put their cars on medium tyres, as Hamilton’s time in Q2 had been faster on those tyres, but it wasn’t fruitful this time. Verstappen and Pérez did as expected, filling in the second row, while Sainz got the “best of the rest” award, earning himself a fifth place on the grid.

Bottas jumped his teammate for pole, as second runs in Q3 weren’t as successful for Hamilton as they usually are. Verstappen, even with all the problems he had faced, stepped up into his most known position, third place. It’s now time to wait and see whether Portimao can deliver racing as great as last season’s.