PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL (REUTERS) – Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the first Portuguese Grand Prix in 24 years on Saturday (Oct 24), with Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas completing a front-row lockout.
The pole was the 12th in 12 races this season for the champions, and a record-extending 97th of Hamilton’s Formula One career.
It was also a bitter blow for Bottas, 69 points behind Hamilton in the championship, after the Finn had been quickest in every practice session as well as the first two stages of qualifying.
Hamilton’s ninth pole of the year leaves him perfectly placed to win an all-time record 92nd victory on Sunday at the Algarve circuit near Portimao.
“I can’t tell you how hard that was today. Yes we’ve got a great car but you have to drive the nuts off it to pull out a lap,” said the Briton, who seized pole with his last of three flying laps.
“Valtteri’s been so quick this weekend, you’ve seen he’s topped every session. So I’ve just been digging and digging and digging and trying to find that extra time.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified third, with Charles Leclerc fourth for Ferrari in a boost for the Italian team after recent struggles.
Leclerc’s team mate and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel managed only 15th, a place behind the Williams of George Russell.