Who does not let themselves be beaten by the Fado in qualifying for the Grand Prix of Portugal?
The winding and hilly circuit of Portimão, officially called the Algarve International Circuit, has been one of the coolest circuits in Europe since the track was completed in 2008. At a time when almost all new F1 tracks were designed by Herman Tilke, they chose Ricardo Pina, Arquitectos in Portugal. In principle, that was a good call. With a few exceptions, after all, most Tilke circuits are pretty cool when thrilling racing is the goal.
The only disadvantage was that F1 eventually teased the circuit, but never really crossed the bridge. The GP2 raced at Portimão and F1 tests were also organized. But a real F1 race did not come and did not seem to come after a while. It is precisely the Rony Rona, however, that this season ensures that there is still an F1 race on the track. New asphalt was recently poured for the occasion. So that will be slipping and sliding. Or is it not too bad? Let’s see, in qualifying!
At 3:00 pm we are ready with the popcorn, but there is no driving. We had already seen that the third free practice session of this morning was ended with one minute left on the clock by a red flag. Vettel had driven over a manhole cover and it had been sucked loose by the enormous downforce of the Ferrari. That is of course dangerous for upcoming other drivers, so it meant the end of the session.
Unfortunately, however, they were apparently not finished yet, so we have to wait an extra half hour. On the Mercs afterwards everyone quickly goes to the track to set a sharp time on the slippery track. Most of them don’t do the classic outlap – fast lap – lap sequence. The new asphalt is smooth and the Pirelli compounds hard. So the drivers choose to do a little more laps on the same set of tires.
The Verstappen, titled by his team, did not initially set a great time. Perez and Leclerc are faster. In his second attempt, Max exceeds the track limits, so he won’t be. Fortunately, three times the charm: on attempt three, MV33 even goes faster than the Mercs, although Hamilton counters quickly with a small margin.
In the end of the field, the usual suspects to find. The Williams, Alfa Romeo and Haas F1 drivers are fighting for that one spot that at least one of them can claim in Q2. In the end, it’s George Russell who runs off with that loot. Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Grosjean, Magnussen and Latifi are allowed to take a shower.
The dropouts: Raikkonen – Giovinazzi – Grosjean – Magnussen – Latifi
Lance Stroll kicks off Q2 with a 1: 17.6. That seems like a nice time, but when the others go around the opposite turns out to be true. In no time Strolliebollie is only twelfth. To no one’s surprise, the Mercs are first and second, while Max has to do all he can to shake off the rest for P3. What makes that worse is that the still black one Silberpfeile on mediums have set their times. Verstappen, on the other hand, does not dare to gamble now and goes for the softs. He says he has no grip on that even.
It is striking that Ferrari seems to be trying with the mediums. And in the case of Leclerc, that might well succeed. Leclerc goes ‘on yellow’ to P8. Do the updates from Ferrari really work? That seems to be disappointing for Vettel. Seb does not get further than P14 and will realistically have to make an attempt ‘on red’ with his red car if he wants to go to Q3.
However, the German is stubborn and just rams a set of mediums under it. It doesn’t bring the German anything, because he finishes the session fifteenth behind Russell. In the final phase of Q2, Ricciardo still bounces off the track, at a time when Ocon seems to get in the way again. However, the same Ocon is the bokkie, because because Q2 is now extinguishing like a candle, it does not get further than P11. Stroll, Kvyat and the aforementioned Russell and Vettel will join the garlic peeler on the sidelines during Q3.
The dropouts: Ocon – Stroll – Kvyat – Russell – Vettel
In the Mercedes session, Bottas deals the first blow. His 1: 16.986 is better than Hamilton’s 1: 17.033. It is striking that Albon went out on the mediums in the last session and is third fastest. That’s also because all the other drivers on the track do an extra very slow first lap, before turning on for a quick lap afterwards. Verstappen is 121 thousandths short on Bottas. Gasly and Ricciardo spun in Q2 are absent for the time being.
Bottas and Hamilton have been allowed to think about it in the pits and both opt for a second attempt on the mediums. Hamilton is on track before Bottas and takes the provisional pole with 52 thousandths of a second. However, Bottas is already two tenths below the time of his teammate in sector 1. In sector two he maintains that lead and on the line he is left with 180 thousandths. Can Max still do something?
Hell yes! Just after we see that Albon has still gone to softs and thus takes P4, Verstappen goes to P2. With that we seem to have an interesting grid for tomorrow, but there is one hell out of a box. Hamilton has driven fast with his mediums and is still brooding on a fast lap. The Brit just manages to do that again. Pole position is again for LH44, on the medium band. BOT will be disappointed. And probably the neutral fan too. Leclerc and Perez take P4 and P5 at the last minute.
Tomorrow, will HAM immediately break Schumacher’s record number after equaling the previous race? We’ll see that tomorrow …
F1 qualifying Portugal 2020: The complete results
- Hamilton – Mercedes
- Bottas – Mercedes
- Verstappen – Red Bull
- Leclerc – Ferrari
- Perez – Racing Point
- Albon – Red Bull
- Sainz – McLaren
- Norris – McLaren
- Gasly – Alpha Tauri
- Ricciardo – Renault
- Ocon – Renault
- Stroll – Racing Point
- Kvyat – Alpha Tauri
- Russell – Williams
- Vettel – Ferrari
- Raikkonen – Alfa Romeo
- Giovinazzi – Alfa Romeo
- Grosjean – Haas F1
- Magnussen – Haas F1
- Latifi – Williams
What a difference between Leclerc and Vettel again …
Is it really that quenched or is it fobbed off with b-material and engineers?
This year there is suddenly a lot of difference between a number of drivers, including drivers who were close to each other in previous seasons. You see it mainly in quality. Max of course with Albon, Leclerc with Vettel, but Gasly also dries Kvyat pretty hard almost every time, Perez seems to be leaving Stroll in the dust and Ricciardo is demolishing Ocon. Mss still have to deal with the characteristics of the 2020 cars (regardless of the skills of the drivers).
Nice to see that the top 3 seem to be a bit closer together. Perhaps this is due to the abolition of party fashion.
Car blog tip: also put the lap times behind