Race
F1 2021
Round 3

Max Splits The Mercedes At The Portuguese Grand Prix

pt Portimao

Red Bull Racing Honda leaves Portugal with 30 points after a strong run in the Portuguese Grand Prix saw Max finishing second and Sergio fourth.

Max Splits The Mercedes At The Portuguese Grand Prix

Starting from the second row, Max held third place while Sergio dropped to fifth behind Carlos Sainz, but the race was quickly neutralised due to an incident for Kimi Raikkonen. After five laps behind the Safety Car, Max made an excellent restart to take second place from Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1 and set off after leader Valtteri Bottas.

 

While Sergio instantly passed Sainz he then lost out to Lando Norris a few corners later, so remained in fifth, while Pierre ran just inside the top ten and Yuki kept himself out of trouble in the midfield.

 

Max suffered a snap of oversteer at the end of lap 10 and Hamilton was able to move ahead into Turn 1, going on to take the lead and leaving Max still chasing Bottas but now in third. Five laps later and Sergio was up to fourth after getting ahead of Norris, although having lost ten seconds to the top three as a result.

 

Yuki had two warnings for exceeding track limits but adjusted his driving to start trying to make progress, passing George Russell down the inside of Turn 5 to move up to 15th place before pitting for hard tyres on lap 15.

 

Scuderia AlphaTauri went for a different strategy for Pierre, switching from softs to mediums on lap 24, going for a long second stint on that compound.



Max was close behind Bottas for lap after lap and Red Bull eventually went for the undercut on lap 35, putting on hard tyres. Mercedes responded a lap later and although Bottas emerged ahead, Max was able to clear the Finn on the run to Turn 5 to take a net second place.

 

Sergio ran long to take the lead as Hamilton stopped, but after dropping to second again he finally stopped with 15 laps to go and was able to put on soft tyres. In a comfortable fourth place, Sergio held the fastest lap for a spell before very late stops from Bottas and Max - on lap 63 and 64 respectively - saw both try and score the extra point.


Max posted the quicker time by 0.016s on his final lap but was unfortunate to see it deleted for exceeding track limits at the penultimate corner, leaving him with 18 points for second place while Sergio came home safely in fourth.


Pierre dropped out of the points briefly as he struggled on his medium tyres towards the end of the race but then regrouped and pulled a good move on Sainz at Turn 1 on the penultimate lap to regain 10th place and score the final championship point. Yuki gained more valuable experience as he crossed the line in 15th.



Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
To be honest, having missed out on the front row yesterday, we still felt we had a chance of winning today and we came very close, with Max finishing second, one place higher than his grid position for Red Bull Racing Honda and Sergio finishing where he started. It’s very encouraging that in the three races so far, we have always been on the podium as it is that consistency which is so important for the championships. Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda had a harder time of it than in the first two rounds, but Pierre delivered a solid performance and picked up the final point. It was a tough afternoon for Yuki, for whom it was the first time at this track which has low grip and where it is difficult to warm up the tyres. But he has learned lessons that will be useful to him for the future. Now we go straight to Spain for another race next Sunday when we will be ready to fight as hard as always.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing Honda
Something about this track really does not suit our car and I think in general this was a bit of an off weekend in terms of grip and overall pace. We knew last year that we weren’t particularly strong here, so this year has been a bit better and we managed to finish ahead of one Mercedes, but it wasn’t quite good enough to get them both. Nevertheless, second is still a pretty good result and we always knew this season would be up and down in terms of the tracks we were strong at and the ones Mercedes were. The race today was pretty decent though and we were all constantly pushing which was nice. I tried to put the pressure on Valtteri in the beginning as he was struggling for grip, but clearly Lewis behind had more pace and he made it past us both. I was then able to undercut Valtteri in the pit stop but you could clearly see on the hard tyres we were just a bit slower, some laps we could match Lewis and others it was just not possible. Towards the end of the race Valtteri was even coming back at me which showed their pace today. It’s a shame the Fastest Lap got taken away, stupid track limits [laughs], they should just put gravel back! It is what it is, we always try and I had the gap so we went for it. We scored good points here but I’m looking forward to Barcelona, a track that has more normal grip levels and where I have good memories. I think we will also see a clearer picture of how teams have been progressing. It’s a long season ahead so a lot can happen.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing Honda
Today was a busy race on my side! Lando managed to get past me at Turn 4 but I thought he had all four wheels off the track so I didn’t defend thinking he’d have to give the place back due to track limits but that wasn’t the case. It was a misjudgment on my side and a mistake but being stuck behind Lando compromised our race and cost us a lot of time. When I got past him my pace was good but I think the damage had already been done. Afterwards we tried to do something different with strategy by going long in the hope of a Safety Car but it didn’t work out and fourth was the maximum we could do. We are definitely making good progression with the car and the race pace, I am understanding it more and more with the extra kilometres I am driving. Of course there are still areas I need to get on top of and improve but it’s just a process and we’ll continue working hard for next week in Barcelona. It’s been very close again with Mercedes all weekend and I think this will be the case for the entire season. Some weekends they will be faster and others we will be so we just have to make sure we keep our heads down and continue working hard.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Honestly, today was really difficult – it wasn’t the race we wanted but, to be honest, it was what we expected. We’ve really struggled here across the weekend, only just making it through to the top 10 in Qualifying, so I think to come away with a point is positive. I was happy at the start of the race as I was managing to follow Charles, but ultimately we lacked pace – due to having no grip in the low-speed corners - and in the end I think it was great to pass Carlos to get a point for the team. I think the circuit in Barcelona will suit our car more, as it’s a much faster track, so I’m hoping that we’ll perform better there in a few days’ time.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
It was really tough today, I had no grip at the beginning of the race and there was just no pace at all for me out there. I’ve struggled all weekend with the balance of the car, the conditions haven’t helped, but everyone has been driving the same track so we just need to analyse the data, to see what didn’t work for us here in Portugal, and learn from it ahead of next weekend in Spain.


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