Lewis Hamilton takes pole for the Portuguese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton takes pole for the Portuguese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Portuguese Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas after a close three-way battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in qualifying at Portimao. Hamilton and Bottas traded fastest laps in the final session of qualifying, with Hamilton just coming out on top by 0.102s on his final attempt. Bottas claimed the fastest time of the afternoon, but it was in the second session of qualifying and the track conditions appeared to tail off in Q3, leaving the final lap times a couple of tenths shy of Bottas’ 1:16.466 in Q2. Verstappen had to settle for third but was within 0.3s of pole position and was in a provisional second place before Hamilton’s final attempt moved the championship leader from third fastest to pole. The Red Bull driver will start the race on a different tyre strategy to the Mercedes in front after opting to use the soft tyre in Q2, which will become his starting tyre, while the Mercedes drivers will start the race on the medium compound. Charles Leclerc qualified his Ferrari fourth for the second race weekend in a row and was just over a tenth off the pace of Verstappen. He will line up ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and the second Red Bull of Alex Albon, which was nearly 0.5s off teammate Verstappen. The McLaren drivers will line up seventh and eighth, with Carlos Sainz ahead of teammate Lando Norris. Pierre Gasly took ninth for AlphaTauri following another impressive performance by the Monza race winner. Esteban Ocon missed out on a place in Q3 by 0.1s to teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who spun out at the end of Q2 on his final flying lap but still qualified 10th. The Australian came across traffic at Turn 11, leaving him wide and off the racing line where he ran out of grip and spun into the gravel. He was able to return to the pits, but the team ran out of time trying to repair his rear wing in time for Q3. Lance Stroll had to settle for 12th after setting a time 0.5s off Racing Point teammate Perez in Q2. He will line up ahead of Daniil Kvyat in the AlphaTauri and George Russell in the Williams, who impressed again as rumours about his future in F1 continue to swirl. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will start 15th after opting to attempt to make Q3 on medium tyres instead of the faster soft compound. Teammate Leclerc made the strategy work and will start the race on mediums as a result, but Vettel was unable to generate the tyre temperature to set a competitive time on the harder rubber. Why Ferrari didn’t cut its losses and switch Vettel to the softs was not clear. Kimi Raikkonen missed out on a place in Q2 by 0.27s, but beat Alfa Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi to 16th by a tenth of a second. Romain Grosjean will line up 18th on the grid ahead of Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen in 19th, while the Williams of Nicholas Latiffi will line up last on the grid.