We have reached the third race of the 2021 Formula 1 season as the Portuguese Grand Prix returns for a second-consecutive season after it re-entered the calendar in 2020 after 24 years without a race at Portimao.
Last season, Lewis Hamilton broke Michael Schumacher’s all-time wins in F1 record with his 92nd career win at the Portuguese GP. Sergio Perez was turned by Max Verstappen on the opening lap and Lance Stroll was taken out by Lando Norris on lap 18.
Valtteri Bottas won pole position for this race, the first time he accomplished that since the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. He is looking to rebound on Sunday after a disastrous outing two weeks ago for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where George Russell crashed into him and both drivers ended up wrecking out of the race to bring out a red flag. Bottas currently sits fifth in the driver standings after a third-place finish in the Bahrain GP to start the season.
Hamilton will start alongside Bottas on the front row. Because of his fastest lap of the race at Imola two weeks ago, he holds a slim one-point lead over Verstappen in the driver standings. The two drivers split the first two races to start the season with Hamilton winning at Bahrain and Verstappen winning at Imola.
Verstappen will start third alongside teammate Perez, who he turned on the opening lap last year at Portimao. Perez finished outside the top 10 at Imola due to a penalty after overtaking during the safety car and spinning off the track after the red flag.
Carlos Sainz, who led several laps at Portimao last season, will start sixth, outqualifying Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, who will start eighth, for the first time in 2021. Sainz is coming off eighth and sixth place finishes to start 2021 while Leclerc has placed sixth and fourth finishes this season.
Esteban Ocon starts sixth, placing his best qualifying result since the Belgian Grand Prix last season. He picked up his first points of the season at Imola with a ninth-place finish. His Alpine teammate, Fernando Alonso, is starting toward the back at 13th.
Norris, who finished on the podium at Imola, will start seventh, nine places ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who couldn’t make it out of Q1 for the first time since the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix.
Rounding out the top 10 is Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel. Gasly is looking to improve on a seventh-place finish at Imola despite running with wet tires on a dry track and Vettel is looking for his first points since his podium in last year’s Turkish Grand Prix.
Russell, who crashed into Bottas in Imola, placed 11th in qualifying, the highest mark he has achieved with Williams. Russell looks to pick up his first points with Williams as his push for a Mercedes seat in the future continues.
If you are watching in the United States, coverage for the Portuguese Grand Prix will begin at 10:00 a.m. EST. You can catch the race on ESPN.