Hamilton again crushes Bottas' spirit with last-lap qualifying drama to claim 97th pole
Lewis Hamilton left it to his final flying lap in qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix to secure the 97th pole position of his Formula 1 career.
After both Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas started Q3 on the soft tyres, it was the Finn who held the slight advantage, albeit with times slower than in Q2.
But with the characteristics of the Portimão track changing considerably between sessions, for the second runs the duo switched to mediums.
Hamilton was first out and provisionally secured pole, only to be beaten by Bottas, however, the Briton had enough time in hand for a second bite of the cherry.
It proved crucial as Hamilton managed to get enough out of his tyres to finish with a lap of one minute 16.652secs, finishing a tenth of a second clear of the Finn, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen 0.150s behind Bottas to again sit third.
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Behind the eighth Mercedes front-row lock-out of the season, Verstappen will be joined on the second row by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc following an astonishing performance that lifted him up to fourth ahead of Racing Point's Sergio Perez.
Renault's Daniel Ricciardo, who had a brush with a barrier with his rear wing after sliding off track on his final flying lap in Q2 but had done just enough to make it into the top-10 shoot-out, but failed to get in a lap and will start 10th.
The session had been delayed by 30 minutes due to extensive repairs required to a broken drain at turn 14 that had been kicked up by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel at the end of the final practice session.
Despite the two-hour gap from the conclusion of FP3 to the start of Q1, FIA safety director Michael Masi and his team, along with circuit officials, were forced to check every other drain around the circuit to ensure it would not cause a similar issue.
Behind the top 10 once the action started, Esteban Ocon, out-qualified 11-1 by Ricciardo this year, starts 11th in his Renault ahead of a surprising Q2 casualty in Racing Point's Lance Stroll who finished half-a-second behind team-mate Perez at the end of the second qualifying session.
AlphaTauri's Daniil Kvyat lines up 13th ahead 'Mr Saturday' George Russell who secured a Q2 place for the seventh time in 12 races this season despite the lack of overall performance in his Williams, particularly on Sunday.
Russell even finished ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who has now failed to reach Q3 for the last eight races, with his Q2 lap half-a-second slower than that of Leclerc.
George Russell, who had made Q2 for the seventh time in 12 races this season with a flying lap at the death of Q1 to comfortably push Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen into 16th by almost three-tenths of a second, will start ??th.
Behind Raikkonen will be team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi, with the duo expected to be confirmed as the team's line-up again for next year, with 0.122s between them.
Outgoing Haas pair Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will line up18th and 19th, separated by 0.144s, while Nicholas Latifi starts from last on the grid after being out-qualified by Russell in all 12 races now this year, with the Canadian a staggering 0.846s down.
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