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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Portuguese GP: The Friday speaking factors as Mercedes steal march on Crimson Bull and Ferrari, Alpine impress

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Reviewing the massive storylines from Friday on the Portuguese GP as Mercedes get pleasure from apply double forward of Max Verstappen, whereas Alpine be a part of Ferrari in combat in direction of the entrance;watch Portimao qualifying at 3pm on Saturday on Sky Sports activities F1, with build-up from 2pm

Final Up to date: 30/04/21 7:00pm

Reviewing the massive storylines from Friday on the Portuguese GP as Mercedes get pleasure from apply double, whereas Alpine be a part of Ferrari in combat in direction of the entrance.

Mercedes vs Crimson Bull: Benefit world champions or too near name?

All through the primary two rounds of the season – the place they gained a race apiece – Mercedes and Crimson Bull have been eager to massive one another up somewhat than settle for the favourites’ tag. Don’t anticipate that method to vary in Portugal.

However what we will say is that, maybe for the primary time in F1 2021 to date, there’s a convincing argument to counsel that Mercedes have a sooner automobile than Crimson Bull on the finish of a day of observe motion.

2:18
Lewis Hamilton displays on a optimistic Friday for Mercedes on the Portuguese GP after a apply double, however nonetheless expects a ‘very shut’ battle with Crimson Bull

Lewis Hamilton displays on a optimistic Friday for Mercedes on the Portuguese GP after a apply double, however nonetheless expects a ‘very shut’ battle with Crimson Bull

Sure, Lewis Hamilton gained the Bahrain GP, and, sure, Valtteri Bottas topped each Friday apply classes at Imola – however each these feats have been achieved as Crimson Bull stumbled considerably. On Friday at Portimao, Mercedes’ drivers secured a apply double on pure tempo, and usually seemed extra comfy all through.

That’s not to say Max Verstappen was distant (0.025s off Bottas in P1 and 0.143s off Hamilton in P2) and isn’t a risk for qualifying (contemplating Crimson Bull’s Saturday tempo to date this season) – however Mercedes should absolutely be feeling higher heading into the weekend’s crunch classes than they’ve been in a protracted whereas.

Requested about Crimson Bull’s tempo, Verstappen would solely say it was “alright”, whereas Hamilton, who topped his first apply session of the 12 months, was equally cautious. “It appears like we’re shut,” he acknowledged.

“I do not understand how Max’s lap was, mine wasn’t good so we have positively acquired a while to return from the automobile and a few enhancements to make.

“However I am certain they’ve too. But it surely’s shut, because it has been the final couple of races, so it is thrilling.”

Bottas, going a step additional, added: “It might swing both approach. Whoever finds extra lap time in a single day goes to be on pole.”

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It’s that unpredictability that has spiced up F1 2021, and which leaves us none the wiser as to who’s going to be heading the grid come Sunday.

“I believe what’s nice about tomorrow, I could not actually predict which approach it should go,” stated Sky F1’s Paul Di Resta.

Ferrari shine once more as Alpine emerge as contenders

Ferrari look like the midfield front-runners in Portimao – with the Scuderia not simply nicely away from rivals-in-chief McLaren, but additionally difficult the highest two. Charles Leclerc was 0.2s off the highest time in P1 and Carlos Sainz completed fourth, 0.360s adrift in P2.

A shock? In all probability not, contemplating they’ve already proved they’re a rejuvenated 2021 drive by qualifying on the second row, and scoring double factors, twice.

What was a shock on the shut of Friday, nevertheless, was who joined them because the main midfield workforce.

Alpine have typically been languishing in direction of the again of the chasing pack because the begin of the season, scoring solely three factors. However the rebranded French workforce burst into life in second apply as Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon completed fifth and sixth, inside four-tenths of Hamilton’s marker.

“It was good, I believe we have been pleased with the automobile,” stated Alonso. “It is solely Friday, however we have been comfy from Lap One.”

The 2-time world champion, nevertheless, did warn: “I believe the positions is not going to be too completely different from Imola and Bahrain, I do not assume there will probably be any adjustments to the order. It is only a completely different method to Friday.”

Let Alpine dream, Fernando!

“We all know Ferrari are fast, in the event that they’re forward of us it is not a shock,” stated McLaren’s Lando Norris. “However we had a giant hole to Alpine the final two weekends, and right here they appear much more aggressive.”

May Portimao’s ‘very tough’ circumstances affect battle?

Including one other variable to the Mercedes vs Crimson Bull battle is the truth that it will not be selected outright tempo, and as an alternative who can grasp the tough slippery circumstances on the Algarve circuit. Solely re-laid shortly earlier than final 12 months’s debut Grand Prix and with little observe motion on it since, drivers have been struggling for grip – seemingly regardless of the tyre.

“I believe everybody was sliding round on the market,” stated Hamilton. “It was positively an actual problem at this time to maintain the automobile on the observe.”

0:59
Nicholas Latifi slides into the Portimao gravel at Flip Eight in tough Friday circumstances

Nicholas Latifi slides into the Portimao gravel at Flip Eight in tough Friday circumstances

Verstappen believes that may very well be the deciding issue on who comes out on high, including: “It is simply very tough on the market with the tarmac, it is tremendous slippery. I do know it is the identical for everybody, nevertheless it’s probably not fulfilling to drive.

“It is a disgrace. It is all about tyre prep, tyre temperature and it should not be like that.”

Spare a thought for Seb

0:38
A chuckle at himself over the radio from Sebastian Vettel as he initially drives into McLaren’s empty pit field, one up from his Aston Martin workforce

A chuckle at himself over the radio from Sebastian Vettel as he initially drives into McLaren’s empty pit field, one up from his Aston Martin workforce

2:14
Karun Chandhok was on the SkyPad to analyse each the Aston Martin drivers throughout Observe Two forward of the Portuguese GP

Karun Chandhok was on the SkyPad to analyse each the Aston Martin drivers throughout Observe Two forward of the Portuguese GP

Sebastian Vettel noticed the humorous aspect of the comical scene that was him forgetting the place Aston Martin’s pit-box was at Portimao – however not a lot his Friday tempo.

Vettel completed sixteenth and fifteenth within the two classes, hardly inspiring confidence that that is going to be the weekend the place his Aston profession kickstarts.



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