Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020

Hamilton takes pole position off Bottas with final run at Algarve

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton mastered a tricky track surface at Autodromo do Algarve to beat his team mate to pole position for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas, who led all three practice sessions before qualifying, was relegated to second place ahead of Max Verstappen.

Qualifying began half an hour later than planned due to track repairs after a drain cover was damaged at the end of the final practice session.

Q1

The first stage of qualifying set the scene for an intriguing fight for pole position. Verstappen ran wide on an early effort, then put together a clean lap which lifted him ahead of the Mercedes. Hamilton had more in hand, however, and claimed the top spot back. But little more than a tenth separated the pair of them and third-placed Valtteri Bottas.

This opening skirmish was inconsequential – the real contest was over who would make it into the second round of qualifying. Romain Grosjean, who complained of understeer on his first run, initially held the last place in Q2, narrowly ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi.

On the low-grip circuit, drivers found even the soft tyres took a few laps to give the best grip, so the final runs began several minutes before the chequered flag was due to appear.

George Russell’s first run left him slightly off a place in the final 15. But once again he put his best sectors again on his final lap, and secured his place in Q2. “My bum was twitching a little bit then,” he admitted on his way back into the pits.

The Williams driver made it through comfortably, over two-tenths of a second ahead of the Alfa Romeo pair. Kimi Raikkonen’s last effort was deleted for a track limits infringement at turn one. The Haas drivers also dropped out, while Russell’s team mate Nicholas Latifi brought up the rear.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’18.201
17Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’18.323
18Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’18.364
19Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’18.508
20Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’18.777

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Q2

Mercedes and Ferrari were the only teams to make an attempt to start the race on the medium compound tyres, both sending their drivers out on the harder rubber. Bottas immediately produced the fastest lap of the weekend so far, while Hamilton slotted in three tenths of a second behind after spoiling one lap locking a wheel behind Vettel.

The Ferrari drivers couldn’t muster the speed to reach the top 10 on his medium tyres and initially held 14th, with only Russel behind him. Charles Leclerc lapped over seven-tenths of a second faster than his team mate on his first run, matching Pierre Gasly to within a thousandth of a second.

Red Bull opted for softs but couldn’t match the Mercedes drivers on the red-coloured rubber, Verstappen ending up six-tenths down on Bottas. Albon was three-tenths of a second behind, but that left him down in ninth.

Albon found little gain on his final runs, complaining he caught traffic at one stage. “You need to tell me when there’s a car in front,” he told his team, “that was way too close.”

Daniel Ricciardo also encountered traffic on his run, including his team mate, at the apex of turn 11. Ricciardo ran wide, the car swapped ends on him, and skidded backwards through the gravel, nudging the barrier with its rear wing. Nonetheless he was narrowly inside the top 10, while Ocon went out in 11th.

He was joined in elimination by Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat, Russell and Vettel. “The tyres were not ready,” said the Ferrari driver after exiting Q2 in last places. “I struggled to get the fronts warming up.” His Q2 lap was over six-tenths of a second slower than his Q1

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Esteban OconRenault1’17.614
12Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’17.626
13Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda1’17.728
14George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’17.788
15Sebastian VettelFerrari1’17.919

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Q3

Bottas narrowly led Hamilton after their first runs on the soft tyres but both Mercedes drivers switched to the medium rubber for their last runs. However they both opted for different tyre warm-up plans.

Bottas did a single flying lap, and set a best effort of 1’16.754. Hamilton had slipped to third behind Verstappen as he got stuck into his final lap, but the extra run on his tyres had left them in spot-on condition, and he found a tenth of a second to secure pole position.

Verstappen took third, half a second quicker than Albon, who was not pleased with his team mate after their first runs. He was compromised by Verstappen on the way in to turn 14, as Verstappen picked up a tow from him on the pit straight as he began his flying lap. “It wasn’t very fair,” complained Albon on the radio.

Another superb qualifying performance by Leclerc put his Ferrari in fourth – 11 places ahead of Vettel. Perez also beat Albon, relegating the Red Bull driver to sixth.

The McLaren pair swept the fourth row of the grid ahead of Gasly and Ricciardo, the latter unable to join the session due to the damage he incurred in Q2.

Top ten in Q3

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’16.652
2Valtteri BottasMercedes1’16.754
3Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’16.904
4Charles LeclercFerrari1’17.090
5Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’17.223
6Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’17.437
7Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’17.520
8Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’17.525
9Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’17.803
10Daniel RicciardoRenault

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2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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83 comments on “Hamilton takes pole position off Bottas with final run at Algarve”

  1. Merc, Merc then Verstappen, BAU.

    1. Lewis, Bottas and then a very predictable no 1 redbull.

      Come on let’s put an Alonso or Ricciardo in that other redbull seat. It’s sinfully boring to watch vestrappen cruise to p3 every time unchallenged.

      1. +1, aside from Monza and Silverstone this season I can’t remember a season as dull as this one. Definitely has something to do with the Ferrari’s being so slow as well.

      2. Or even better, let one of them replace bottas

  2. Screw regulation changes related to car designs FIA. Play with the tyres, they give us more intense sessions. Verstappen used Soft tyes, while both Mercedes used Medium tyres, and Hamilton decided to do 3 laps, whilst Bottas opted for 1. Verstappen took 2nd off Hamilton, but Hamilton went from 3rd to 1st.

    1. Nobody wants drivers complaining and talking about tyres.

      1. Just get rid of Team Radio then. (and not just of the broadcast, but the actual thing if you ask me)

      2. “Nobody”? Did you do a survey or something?

        Presumably, “nobody” = “Jay”.

        1. @jules-winfield Well when they had extreme tires last time that were the primary story & talking point of every weekend with extreme levels of management required a majority of fans disliked them just like a majority of drivers did so i think the same would be true if they went that way again.

          If you want to watch cars driving slowly managing tires all weekend then fine, But based on past evidence it certainly seems a vast majority of F1 fans do not want to see that.

          1. Thanks for explaining that.

    2. The teams will just throw massive resource into studying the tyres @krichelle then the temporary unpredictability would be over

      1. Give the teams the choice of tyres they want. If I remember correctly, Red Bull and Ferrari preferred thinner threads than Mercedes, or vice versa. Allow them to choose among the ones that suits their car better.

    3. @krichelle It wouldn’t work long term as teams/drivers would very quickly figure them out & as was seen the last time they started playing with the tires the end result will just be extreme levels of tire management with everybody talking about nothing but tires throughout every weekend.

      The constant tire talk & how slow drivers were having to drive to manage them became boring last time & something everybody complained about so best not go back to that.

      Just give them the best tires possible as was done for many decades before the Pirelli comedy tire era. The pinnacle of the sport should not have to constantly deal with the worst tires in the whole of Motorsport, Its been a joke the past decade.

      1. Yes, let’s give them the best tyres that suit their cars, and have them choose. Like I responded above, I believe Red Bull and Ferrari had a thread structure preference different than that of Mercedes. Allow them to choose what they want.

        1. @krichelle I’d also allow tyre competition again. Let teams go with whatever tire supplier they feel is best & allow the various suppliers to make tires that suit the characteristics of each car/driver.

          F1 is a competition, Not just between drivers but also teams, engines & many other aspects of the car & tires should be part of that. That is how it was for most of F1’s history, Teams always had the option of looking elsewhere if they could find a supplier willing to supply them tires & I feel that is how it should be again.

          F1 should be the pinnacle, The best drivers, The best cars & pushing the limits of performance & technology. That is what it was for a majority of it’s history, Both F1 & modern fans have lost sight of that in this modern ‘show’ era. The wrong things are been focussed on & F1 has been lost.

          1. @roger-ayles the problem comes when you have instances of tyre manufacturers actively working against the interests of customers though, mainly because they know those customers basically can’t turn elsewhere.

            I can recall one ex-Tyrrell engineer mentioning that he requested information on the stiffness of the tyre carcass from Goodyear, and was then told “we’re not going to give you that information”. When he then pressed them on why, he was given the response “we don’t give that information to teams like you – you’re not worth enough to us” (Goodyear having decided that only Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Benetton were worthy to have that information).

          2. @roger-ayles, Agree, but it will be important to rule that all tyres must be available at a set price to any team that wants them, so as to avoid the situation described below by @ANON.

  3. Leclerc probably goes for a qualifying setup. Predictably will go backwards in the race.

    1. Where does this idea come from? He had a pretty solid race.

  4. Enjoyable session. Top 4 all did a great job, thought Bottas had it, must be pretty demoralizing. Going to be an interesting start with the even side of the grid so dirty!
    Red Bull look a lot closer, hopefully they’ll join the party towards the end of the season

  5. If Bottas did a second attempt on the mediums he would’ve won pole position for sure.
    I don’t know whose mistake was it, his or his teams, but it was very costly.
    That’s a shame; Bottas deserved the pole.

    1. for sure

      No, you don’t know that for sure. Could have made a mistake and binned it given the torrid track conditions.

      1. ooh, I agree so much with you
        people tend to give assumption and opinions as facts, to emphasize or give more body to their opinion

        but hey, just my opinion :-)

      2. @blazzz
        Yeah, he could have made a mistake, but without it, he would have put the car on pole.
        Which is incredible, given the supposed stature of his teammate.

        1. @liko41

          *Probably put the car on pole. Atleast we agree that Bottas is better than people give him credit for- he is there or thereabouts this season given he “supposed” 6 time champ team mate.

    2. Both drivers had the choice of 1 run or 3 runs. BOT chose 1 and HAM chose 3. That was a driver decision. When you look at 3 poles from BOT and 9 for HAM you can say that which driver makes the difference more often. At the same time, I feel for BOT but then he had a chance of pole, podium and victory at every Grand Prix. At lot of drivers would be happy to be in his position, I am sure!

    3. I think that is down to experience from Lewis I don’t think anyone told the drivers how me lapse to run

    4. @carbon_fibre ? You’ve no idea how much he took out of the tyres. Presumably both drivers (and their engineers) had planned how many laps they’d do with their fuel levels and timing of their laps adjusted accordingly. Bottas also has had a tendency to take too much out of the tyres on single laps, purple-sectoring the first two sectors and losing out to HAM in the final sector at quite a few venues this year. So I imagine they weren’t in as an ideal state as Hamilton’s. Just a guess.

      1. @blazzz Yes for sure. Bottas topped FP1, FP2, FP3 and Q2.
        @david-br Bottas using too much of his medium tyres (C2, the second hardest tyre Pirelli makes) in one lap makes no sense. If anything, they would have worked better during a second flying lap attempt.

        1. @carbon_fibre What I meant was that Bottas had focused on the one (first) lap, while Hamilton had planned for 3 and worked the tyres – temperatures, wear etc. accordingly. Aside from not knowing if Bottas had the fuel for another lap, there was a big difference in how they had approached q3. You’re right: if the second flying lap was almost certain to be better, why didn’t Bottas take that option? Which returns to the point I’m trying to make: Hamilton is generally better at piecing together all the elements at the right time. That’s why he has 97 poles.

        2. @carbon_fibre

          Past form isn’t a guarantee of future form as those final Q3 laps showed. You can say it’s your opinion and too right you’re entitled to it- but fact remains you don’t know that for sure. Nothing is guaranteed- like I said you don’t know for certain if he was going to make an error for sure.

      2. It’s very rare to have two purple sectors and still end up without having the best laptime. At least it’s rare enough to not to consider it as a tendency. And probably in the case of Bottas vs Hamilton, the one who makes his final attempt at the end of the qualification before his rival, often has purple sectors as that is the most important part of qualification, with the most pace built up, so obviously they often overwrite the previous results with new bests, and then if the second one has a better run, he often takes away some purple sectors from his rival. So it’s pretty likely to have some purple sectors as the first runner of the final attempts with such an excellent car, no matter who is the first runner of the two. As the role of the first attempter is likely once dealt to one, and the next time to the other to ensure fairness from this point of view, one of them is very likely to have those purples as the first runner, and therefore that one is Bottas once per two weekends :) But in the end it’s very unlikely to loose the qualy with 2 purple sectors, 2 used to be enough.
        But on the other hand Lewis is great at many fields, as he wins so often, and one of those fields can be tyre management.

        1. Jockey, I may have been exaggerating slightly, but it’s definitely happened more than once that Bottas starts a Q3 lap with 2 slightly faster sectors and leaves too little on the (soft) tyres for the final sector, more than cancelling out the first two. Depending on the circuit obviously. I also think he’s been addressing that issue in more recent qualification sessions. But my point is that qualification is a multidimensional problem, including getting a balance between one lap and race pace setup, and that’s something Hamilton is exceptional at working out, calculating all the variables, optimizing his own strategy for the weekend, and putting it all together under pressure.

          1. Yes, I like to decompose things too, and anyone has his or her misjudgements or exaggerations. I often try to interpret stats in my own way, but while doing so probably I made a logical error too :)
            I think I expected a bit more from Bottas initially, because of his one lap pace, but he seems just a bit less ice cold than he really should be, but Lewis is really complete, so I can’t diminish Bottas, but I more and more think he will not beat Hamilton unless he pulls a Rosberg (luck-wise), Rosberg raced him harder and sometimes succeed with that approach as I feel.

            As there are the hardest compunds delivered to the weekend, I think they not really killed those mediums with the last effort (Lewis put in 2 fast and some managing laps, while Bottas put in 1 fast lap, at least for Bottas that compound could be used for a shorter stint in necessity of a 2 stops strategy). This effort to do more than 1 fast laps on a compound is rarely seen in dry conditions recently, so hats off for the idea and effort.

            At this race when Hamilton said, that the track is really challenging and had setup issues, I thought even someone like him is likely to miss out on some details, as they rarely drive F1 cars on tracks like this with unusual cambers and elevation changes. But that’s why they have so many engineers. I would like to see how they generate the initial draft of the setups, because even that can be much more than I can imagine. This is a track I would definitely try out if I have the possibility, as well as the Sachsenring (even for a sightseeing run with a Trabant with 26PS :) ), because those elevation changes are so unbelievable. Some of the photos are astonishing from the venue, even if I know the camera angles were used to exaggerate some of its attributes. Luckily they zoomed out and they showcased the scenery while the repair job of the drainage system, but then at the end of the quali they seemed to forget about onboards, and they zoommed on cars so much in the world feed, for example on Bottas, that I barely seen anything, so I almost scratched myself.

          2. Jockey, I agree, it was good to see Mercedes thinking differently and trying the mediums, Bottas should have gone with the flow and tried another fast lap. He did stand a good chance. I threw in about race pace because I suspect Hamilton has refocused in recent years on ‘scraping’ qualifying and looking for better race pace and tyre maintenance. So Bottas’s practice and qualifying pace don’t perhaps tell us everything. I certainly love circuits with dramatic elevation changes too, something we’ve been lacking with all the flat street and desert circuits added to the calendar. Looking forward to the race!

    5. You are I’ll informed.

      If he went for a Second lap, he will be disqualified as there won’t be enough fuel to do lap 2.

    6. vI don’t know whose mistake was it, his or his teams, but it was very costly.

      He literally said 1 mninute after parking up that is was HIS call. So no he didn’t deserve it, the guy who made the right call did.

      1. @RB13
        Still, a 9 time race winner generally performed better than a six time champ in a totally new circuit and the aforementioned champ only got the upper hand because of a right call.
        Amazing.

        1. @liko41

          Well, can’t beat them all the time can you whoever you are. That’s why upsets are part and parcel of sport.

        2. It is often like that, Hamilton is faster when it counts. Lately it seems that he spends his office sessions to get ready to peak at the right time. I also recommend his setup is often skewed towards race trim.

        3. Lol. Is that a new excuse? Heard about not showing your hands? And also, I guess you must be one of the many noobs who think Bottas is slow.

          The problem with f1 is unclever fans like you and bad teams like Redbull that eliminate competition within their team.

    7. @carbon_fibre whilst he would have had a strong potential chance, I would be wary of making it an absolute statement that he would have definitely taken pole.

      Whilst you bring up Bottas’s performances in the practise sessions, the gap did come down across those sessions – his FP3 run was only a few thousandths faster, suggesting that his potential advantage by that point was marginal. Given the issues that other drivers have mentioned with preparing the tyres for a fast lap, whilst it is possible that Bottas would have been in the right operating temperature range, it would depend on how exactly he paced himself across the two runs and the unknown question of whether or not he could have made a mistake at any point.

      I would therefore say that it’s probably fair to say that the odds may potentially have been favourable, but I wouldn’t say it was 100% guaranteed.

    8. Bottas said in the post qualification interviews of the top three drivers (with Coulthard), that he was the one who made the decision to do the 1 lap attempt instead of the 3 lap attempt, so he not blames anyone for that.

  6. Lewis on pole, Bottas second and Max third.

    The above sentence is almost a cliche now !!!

    1. It’s always max on third. Most predictable and boring Stuff redbull are capable of. Redbull has no racing in their DNA.

      Remember 2010 to 2013, when their golden duck never had a challenge from a team mate and look how roasted that duck is in Ferrari. 😀😀😀😀

      1. “It’s always max on third.”

        Not really. 7 out of 12 times he’s been third. that leaves 5 other occasions where he wasn’t. quite a big chunk of the season if you ask me. Not that he sometimes wasn’t higher, but he also did a lot worse at times such as 7th in Hungary and 5th in Italy.

        1. By that logic, Lewis has just 6 titles from 19 seasons.
          Guess Lewis isn’t making f1 boring then.

          1. It is the definition of always that I’m pointing out. If I used it in the example you have brought up comparing to mine, then you would say Hamilton has always won the title for the past 19 seasons.

            Always means every single time, not under a third.

          2. How do you calculate 19 seasons?

            Hamilton started his F1 career in 2007. This is his 14th season and he will most likely claim his 7th WDC.

    2. @webtel

      This actually is the first time in quite some time that this happened. Last race, Bottas got pole, followed by Hamilton who was extremely close to getting beaten by Verstappen.

      The weekend before, Hamilton got pole, followed by Verstappen, then Bottas.

      Again, the weekend before that, the order was not the same, with Bottas getting pole and Verstappen.

      So actually was well over a month since this last happened? Then you only need to go back 1 race where the line up was different again in Italy.

      Even the first 3 races of the season didn’t have this order. One of them, Bottas got pole, others had unexpected aperences in the top 3 like Sainz and Stroll.

      Out of 12 qualifying sessions, only a third of them have had this order of drivers that you are implying occurs far two often.

      1. @thegianthogweed
        I made that comment in jest considering the last few years and not just 2020. All i am saying is that this combination of Lewis–Bottas–Max finishing in this order has been the most frequent compared to other combinations.

        Cheers.

        1. no problem .

  7. How long does it need to be before the penny drops at Ferrari (and the Sky Sports commentators for that matter) that Sebastian Vettel is obviously doing his absolute best to ensure that Racing Point finish in third in the Constructors Championship and that Ferrari finish outside of the top four.

    1. You are right Steve. His position versus LEC has been somehow, strangely enough, a bit suspicious….he lost his desire to drive Ferrari? Lost motivation? Or…..

      1. You’ve gotta wonder why they chose to qualify on the mediums though. They only seemed to work on the Mercedes

      2. Or simply put, he’s not good. Very poor indeed. Leclerc roasted him last season, and now we are seeing what happens when drivers like Vettel don’t get The no 1 treatment.

        The poorly managed Sky f1 commentators cry and cry all day about f1 being boring, but never a mention on how dismal Vettel’s driving is since 2014.

    2. @machinesteve If so, Machiavelli would be proud :)
      Or not, given he was obviously a Ferrari fan :(

    3. @machinesteve
      It could also be that Ferrari is not giving Vettel the right equipment to perform like Leclerc is doing.
      Not that impossible, given Ferrari’s history with second fiddle drivers.

    4. Oh I like that thought… That would explain a lot

    5. Here the interesting question is: what worths more, a higher share of the prize money pot, or more development tokens for the weaker constructor placement. Ferrari probably could even choose the tokens, as they used to be a financially strong team, and they have to work on the design as much as possible, while at RP I don’t know what is the preference.

  8. Ham Bot Ver
    Ham Bot Ver
    One a penny, Two a Penny
    Ham Bot Ver

    1. Based on the race results or qualifying?

      Qualifying the last 3 races has been as follows:

      Ham Bot Ver
      Bot Ham Ver
      Ham Ver Bot

      That is shuffling that order every time.

  9. Well I didn’t see the qualifying session but what a surprise result! ;-)

    Does anyone think they might finish in this order in the WDC?

    1. You missed a very interesting session.

      1. Agreed it was a very interesting session. You missed out. Watch Q3 at least.

  10. When Mercs tried the mediums as a last run, I not really understood that (slippy albeit smooth track, and quite cold weather, these are all calling for the softer compound), and I even thought that Verstappen might beats them on softs, and therefore I considered it as a dangerous effort. In the end Verstappen was really close indeed, he was not far from taking the pole. On the other hand bringing the hardest compounds here is quite interesting as well, but this is a tendency the softest tyre of the five available is barely ever used, so Pirelli never really chooses to bring the softest three. Now it introduced a quite interesting strategy option what Mercedes probably observed.

    So as the not used as many softs as the other competitors, and the cold weather and the very smooth surface, and the low grip calls for the softs, can they have a two stop strategy, and use soft compounds for two stints? As the track surface is not abrasive, the softs can live long, or at least surprisingly long. Although I know Mercedes not really used to prefer the two stop strategy, they tend to use a set of hards instead very often. Or they can have a slightly used compound at one stint of the three as the track is not so abrasive. And as we not really seen a race this year without a safety car, hm I don’t know what to expect. Especially about getting heat into the hards :P I wish all of them good luck, and a race finally without a SC or lengthy VSC.

    1. Haha, and I forgot something, as this medium run from Mercedes opened up a new aspect for me, and it looks like strategy options as well. How about the following gimmicky gimmick: instead of taking any opinion from teams into consideration let’s decide the compounds delivered for a weekend via a lottery-like draw. That would show which entrants have better skills of adapting. Or to make it worse, instead of having only 3 options to draw from – so (C1,C2,C3) or (C2,C3,C4) or (C3,C4,C5), let’s have a completely random draw, so 3 out of 5 :)

      Imo it would be challenging even for race engineers, but I would not mind that, a good crime is more interesting than the well known. Probably often even the teams could not calculate an optimal strategy, not to mention the inevitable random events of a race. Sorry for many, I can’t equate the safety wise necessity of two pitstops with too much managing of tyres, and two stops is not that much. When there were so soft compounds which lasted 5-10 laps at best and they were so vulnerable that a smaller locking or gravel riding binned them that was too much, but at two stops it’s still not the case. I don’t remember which season that was, although there was one such for sure I think in the early 2000’s or in the late 1990’s, and those soft tyres were quite bad and vulnerable.

  11. Are Seb and Leclerc running precisely the same car?
    It seems very odd that Vettel’s performance level should drop so far so consistently. Maybe they’re giving Lec just one or two extras…..

    1. Yep, Leclerc’s pace is one of the biggest suprise of this qualification, and the gap is enormous between their laptimes for a while. I don’t know what to think, although I consider Leclerc as one of the close future’s best F1 competitors (if there will be too much competition for the titles before the new engine formula… actually without DAS, and engine modes, and one year of development before engine freeze, I would not exclude the possibility), and Seb seems to admit that he has to bounce back, so likely he has some problems. I even thought about some conspiration theory-like stuff, but that’s too conspirational, so I will not share that. (no, the idea is not about sabotage, or something Ferrari related stuff).

  12. Incredible performances by Verstappen and Leclerc with much slower cars and the slower soft tyres.

    Well done to Hamilton for proving he’s quicker than Bottas.

    1. Nothing incredible in the performance of the top 3. Ham as expected gets it done when it matters, Bottas missing out as (almost) always and Ves occupying the expected 3rd with no challenge from behind and not a realistic expectation of getting P1. That said, it’s been the pattern of recent years that RB close up towards the end of the season when the titles have already been realistically lost, so I’d expect Verstappen to be closer over the last few races. Leclerc deserves praise but we need to see how the Ferrari does in the race – has he gone for a quali oriented set up? I expect he has. Hoping Max and RB can bring a real race to Merc tomorrow.

    2. The pain is strong in this one!

    3. Leclerc is really showing Vettel up this season. It would be so good to see him able to battle with Max this season.

    4. i dont get why people thinks verstappen is better than lewis. sure hes challenging the merc but has he gotten ahead of lewis once?bottas i can understand him losing to max several times as max is better but otherwise, isnt max doing the same as what lewis is doing? putting their cars fastest and second fastest. albon is just way too bad to go slower than ferrari.

      1. Verstappen is in a much slower car than Hamilton. Albon is where the level of the Red Bull really is.

        Hamilton only beats Bottas by a slight margin while Verstappen destroys all of his teammates.

  13. I found myself rooting for Bottas this session for some reason… I guess Hamilton can settle for second as he is so far ahead or something! Nevertheless, Hamilton always seems to pull it out of the bag… like he spends the practice sessions and Quali 1 & 2 quietly learning and doing just enough to get what he needs, than Bam! He sticks in the lap that counts. He’s champion for a reason. It amazes me every time he does it.

    1. He’s champion for a reason. It amazes me every time he does it.

      But he only really needs to beat one person, doesn’t he.

      1. This season, yes. Other seasons, no @dot_com

  14. I feel so bad for Bottas. It must be so demoralizing. I honestly don’t know why he stays at Mercedes – second place in a two horse race just cannot feel good.

    1. Better than running fourth at RBR. assuming he could crack the code that Gasly and Albon cannot.

    2. Maybe because unlike most of the other drivers of this era he got to take on the most successful driver of all time and won x amount of races and poles. And is probably in the top 5 best paid drivers on the grid.

      1. I agree to an extent. Obviously a big step up from his Williams (although they were podium contenders during his time there) Taking on Lewis is pretty much the ultimate challenge. I do wonder if he would thrive much better being a #1 driver in a midfield team like Renault or Mclaren.

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