Formel 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is starting from position one on the hunt for the 92nd Grand Prix victory of his career. In qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimao, the British Mercedes driver took the 97th pole position of his career and the ninth of twelve possible this year with a brilliant final lap.
Hamilton’s Mercedes flew like a black lightning over the mountain and valley railway in the Algarve, after this fantastic lap Hamilton was a tenth of a second ahead of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas (Finland). “It’s unbelievable, I can’t even say how difficult it was,” said Hamilton, who in Q3 of the top ten, unlike Bottas, drove two fast laps instead of just one. “Yes, we have a great car, but of course you have to drive it,” said the Briton. Since Friday he had tried to “find this one fast lap, in the end I succeeded.”
Max Verstappen (Netherlands) in the Red Bull was third, 2.5 tenths of a second behind Hamilton’s fastest time. “Can we do something at top speed?”, Verstappen had meanwhile radioed to the pits: “We are actually nowhere really fast.”
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel (Heppenheim) only finished 15th in the Ferrari and missed the final qualifying section for the ninth time in the twelfth race of the season. Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc, meanwhile, drove his Ferrari to fourth position. “I didn’t really get into the rhythm and in the end I had difficulties getting the tires to work,” said Vettel on Sky: “The car felt okay, if it worked.” and with whom I am satisfied ”, are still just too slow.
The qualification had started half an hour late after a manhole cover had come loose during free practice and this had to be reattached and secured.
If Hamilton wins the race on Sunday (2.10 p.m. / in the FAZ live ticker on Formula 1 and on RTL and Sky), he is the sole record holder with 92 wins ahead of Michael Schumacher.