Saturday, May 1st, 2021
Hamilton misses 100th pole
Vettel manages to break free
Sebastian Vettel has been fighting his way from one disappointment to the next for months, but the four-time Formula 1 world champion experienced a pleasant afternoon at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
After a completely messed up last Ferrari year, Sebastian Vettel hoped to finally be able to celebrate success stories in the Aston Martin again. But the first two dates of the Formula 1 racing calendar 2021 cause enormous disillusionment: the four-time world champion is 15th twice in the race, in the qualifying sessions in Bahrain it is enough for 18th place, in Imola at least 13th place.
In Portimao, however, Vettel is finally working his way into Q3 in the Aston Martin for the first time, the last section of the fight for a good place on the starting grid for the race. At the Portuguese Grand Prix, Vettel will start the race as 10th. The Hessian was last so far ahead in July 2020 at Silverstone, in the last 15 attempts Vettel had missed Q3.
Despite the (small) blow, Vettel did not break out into euphoria on the Sky microphone. “It was definitely better to stay longer in qualifying,” said the 33-year-old soberly and already turned his gaze to Sunday. “We still have a lot to learn with the car. 10th place puts us in a better starting position, that’s the main thing. We can attack better there. We will definitely attack.”
“Not much fun driving here”
Pole position was surprisingly secured by the Finn Valtteri Bottas, who relegated his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to second place by seven thousandths of a second. The record world champion has to wait at least a week for the 100th pole position of his career. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen went third.
In third place, Verstappen was missing a full four tenths of the hoped for place in the sun. “I had some problems with the grip. Q2 was okay and so was the first lap in Q3. In the last sector, in the last run, I had two cars in front of me. That just distracts me. That cost me some time, but like this that’s what it is, “said the Dutchman with a tight-lipped expression. No, “it hasn’t been much fun to drive here so far.” On his first attempt in Q3, Verstappen still had the time that would have been enough for pole position in the end. The lap was canceled because the Dutchman had exceeded the track limits.
Vettel “is still learning”
In the last free practice session at noon, Vettel had a lot of trouble with his Aston Martin. The 33-year-old couldn’t get past 18th in windy and slippery conditions at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. “He’s still learning. The car has a completely different concept than what he’s driven before. He needs more time in the car,” said team boss Otmar Szafnauer before the final exercise session at Sky. In the race against the clock, however, Vettel clearly distanced his new teammate Lance Stroll for the first time, the Canadian surprisingly retired in Q1.
Mick Schumacher was also eliminated in Q1. In the defeated Haas racing car, the 22-year-old couldn’t get past the penultimate place in windy conditions. With that, Michael Schumacher’s son was again faster than his Russian team-mate Nikita Masepin. Surprisingly, the Australian Daniel Ricciardo also retired in the McLaren as 16th in the first round of the starting position chase for the third round of the season on Sunday (4 p.m. / Sky).