Valtteri Bottas Claims Portimao Pole

Jarrod Partridge

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Image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas press office

Valtteri Bottas claimed the 17th pole position of his career and first of the 2021 season, while his teammate Lewis Hamilton was just 0.007s behind in P2, completing the front-row lockout for Mercedes, marking the 75th front row lockout for the Mercedes F1 Team in the modern era.

Both Mercedes drivers will start tomorrow on the Medium compound tyre, as will the two Red Bulls in the second row.

Redemption For Bottas

After crashing out of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix two weeks ago, many were calling for Bottas to be replaced at Mercedes. Today, the Finn struck back in the best possible way, claiming pole in difficult conditions and denying his illustrious teammate a 100th pole position.

'We worked hard to figure out the issues I was experiencing in qualifying, we put things right and this is the result - it's more like how it should be, so I'm happy. In the first two races, I knew the speed was there but my main issue was tyre warm-up. We've put a lot of focus on that, we learned some lessons and I always knew our hard work would pay off. The key was to stay calm, execute the plan and focus on the small details, particularly on the out-laps.'

'We've been stronger than expected which is a positive surprise but it's only qualifying, I'm already thinking about tomorrow. We know the Red Bulls have a strong race car and we are expecting an epic battle,' said Bottas.

Difficult Day For Hamilton

In blustery conditions that saw many drivers blown off the track, Lewis Hamilton also had a difficult day, but wasn't too disappointed to finish in P2 as he eyes another race win tomorrow.

'Not that enjoyable of a session because I couldn't get that many good laps in but I'm not too frustrated, I only did one good lap and that was in Q2. Of course I'd have loved to put more good laps together but it was tricky out there. It's a slippery track, the tyres are hard so you need to do multiple laps to put temperature into them and it's quite a peaky balance - it works for a second and then falls away very quickly, it's on a knife-edge.'

'It wasn't meant to be but Valtteri did a great job today and I'm just focused on the race. Now is the time to understand strategy for tomorrow and work out where the opportunities lie. It's not an easy track to follow but we shall we see - I hope we have good enough pace to fight for the win, tomorrow we'll go all in,' added Hamilton.

Mercedes Back At The Front

After being out-performed in the opening two races of the season, the Mercedes technicians focussed on returning the German manufacturer back to the front of the grid in Portugal, much to the delight of their team boss.

'Qualifying was always our weakness in the first two races and now we're back at the front. We have seen these kinds of performances from Valtteri in the past and today was a mega day for him. But I have no doubt, like I've always said, he can be right up there. Tomorrow we have two Mercedes with two Red Bulls just behind, good ingredients for a nice race!' concluded Toto Wolff.

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