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Verstappen sets up pole showdown with Hamilton after topping final practice

Verstappen sets up pole showdown with Hamilton after topping final practice

F1 News

Verstappen sets up pole showdown with Hamilton after topping final practice

Verstappen sets up pole showdown with Hamilton after topping final practice

Max Verstappen laid down the ideal marker ahead of qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix by emerging fastest in final practice in Portimão.

Red Bull driver Verstappen set the quickest time of the weekend to date with a lap of one minute 18.489secs, finishing a comfortable quarter-of-a-second quicker than Mercedes rival Hamilton.

Following a quiet opening 15 to 20 minutes with little track activity around a circuit dubbed 'the rollercoaster' due to its undulating nature, once the flying laps finally unfolded a number of names powered their way to the top of the timesheet.

Esteban Ocon, whose digital display in his Alpine did not work during the session, held sway for a short while before Hamilton took over at the top, lowering his initial benchmark down to 1:18.735s.

Moments before, Hamilton, Verstappen and others had been forced to back out of their first hot laps due to a virtual safety car disrupting proceedings for marshals to set upright again a Pirelli advertising hoarding that had blown over in the wind.

With a third of the session remaining, Hamilton was then usurped by Verstappen by 0.180s, with the Dutch driver finding his time in the final sector as Hamilton was still quickest in the first two.

Later in the session, Verstappen posted purple in the first sector and set a personal best in the second, only to lose four-tenths of a second in the final part of the track where he had earlier proved sublime as he complained of oversteer.

On the following lap, Verstappen improved by 0.056s as he posted solid times across all sectors without going purple.

It proved to be the final fray between the duo ahead of qualifying, with Valtteri Bottas third quickest, albeit 0.331s down on the Dutch driver.

In the battle between Red Bull and Mercedes, Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez finished 0.020s adrift of Bottas to finish fourth on the timesheet.

As for the best of the rest, Ocon underlined Alpine's pace at this track to date with the third-best time, with an additional 0.020s between him and Perez.

Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz suggested they are in the mix for strong grid positions, albeit with both just over half a-second off of Verstappen's pace.

McLaren's Lando Norris, who expressed his concerns atfer Friday practice he would be struggling to claim a top-10 place in qualifying, was eighth fastest followed by the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly and Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen.

Daniel Ricciardo was down in 12th in his McLaren, just behind Yuki Tsunoda in his AlphaTauri, followed by the second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi and Fernando Alonso in his Alpine.

Alonso, who had posted the third quickest lap behind Verstappen and Hamilton with 18 minutes remaining only for it to be deleted for exceeding track limits at turn one, had to settle for 14th ahead of Mick Schumacher in the Haas.

In a dismal session for Aston Martin, Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel were 16th and 18th, sandwiching Williams' George Russell, with team-mate Nicholas Latifi 19th and Nikita Mazepin in his Haas bringing up the rear for the third consecutive session, with the Russian 2.201s adrift.

Portuguese Grand Prix final practice times

1 Max Verstappen [Red Bull] 1:18.489

2 Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.236s

3 Valtteri Bottas [Mercedes] +0.331s

4 Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +0.351s

5 Esteban Ocon [Alpine] +0.371s

6 Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] +0.512s

7 Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +0.561s

8 Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.783s

9 Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] +0.885s

10 Kimi Raikkonen [Alfa Romeo] +0.926s

11 Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +0.996s

12 Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +1.093s

13 Antonio Giovinazzi [Alfa Romeo] +1.099s

14 Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +1.460s

15 Mick Schumacher [Haas] +1.544s

16 Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +1.601s

17 George Russell [Williams] +1.638s

18 Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +1.725s

19 Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +2.192s

20 Nikita Mazepin [Haas] +2.201s 20 laps

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