Portuguese GP: Hamilton clinches 97th F1 pole in strategic qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton got his approach absolutely right as he secured yet another Formula 1 pole at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

With little difference in performance between the soft and medium tyres, the Briton opted to give himself two flying laps on the latter compound at the end of Q3.

And that proved critical with the world champion leaving it until the very last moment to secure his 97th career pole and ninth of 2020.


The start of qualifying was delayed as repairs to the drain cover hit by Sebastian Vettel in final practice overran.

When the session did get underway, however, it was business as usual in the top three as Verstappen split the two Mercedes' with Hamilton in front.

In the fight to make Q2, Alfa Romeo, Haas and Williams battled to fill the final place in the top 15, with also Vettel under a little pressure in P14.

A brilliant final lap from George Russell saw him secure that 15th place at the expense of Kimi Raikkonen in 16th.

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The Finn's Alfa teammate Antonio Giovinazzi followed in 17th, ahead of the two Haas' as Romain Grosjean led Kevin Magnussen.

That left the second Williams of Nicholas Latifi at the back of the grid for the first time since Monza.


At the front, tyre strategy was split with Mercedes using medium and Red Bull soft for their first run.

Hamilton's initial attempt was compromised by a slow Vettel at Turn 13 causing him to lock-up, but a clean second lap saw him slot into second, three-tenths behind teammate Bottas.

Like final practice, however, Red Bull struggled for pace on the supposedly faster softs, with Verstappen six-tenths down in third and Alex Albon only ninth.

Ferrari was the only other team than Mercedes to try the mediums, with Leclerc eighth and Vettel 14th heading into the final runs.

As has been the case throughout the weekend, however, drivers struggled to find lap time with Daniel Ricciardo holding onto P10 despite an off into the gravel at Turn 9.


Teammate Esteban Ocon was the first driver to miss out on Q3 in 11th in the second Renault.

Lance Stroll was a surprise exit in P12 for Racing Point ahead of Daniil Kvyat in 13th for AlphaTauri.

And Russell produced another great lap to snatch 14th from Vettel, as Ferrari's gamble to stay on the mediums failed for the four-time world champion.


The fight for pole saw Bottas seize P1 by half a tenth over Hamilton after the first run, with Verstappen a little over a tenth back in third.

For the second run, Hamilton switched to the medium and would go fastest by half a tenth after going earlier than Bottas.

Valtteri though would respond to go fastest by just under two-tenths, with Verstappen also jumping Lewis into second.


The world champion wasn't finished yet though, as he had enough fuel for a second flying lap and would set a 1m16.652s to make it F1 pole No.97, pipping Bottas by a tenth of a second.

Verstappen slipped to third, with Leclerc setting an impressive lap to secure fourth for Ferrari.

Sergio Perez was fifth ahead of Alex Albon and the two McLaren's of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, with just 0.005s between them.

Pierre Gasly secured a strong ninth, as Ricciardo was unable to set a Q3 time due to the rear wing damage he had from his off in Q2.

Full results from qualifying can be seen below: