May 17, 2021

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix Star Performers | 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris and Mick Schumacher were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Portuguese Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Esteban Ocon

  • Started the weekend promisingly with fifth-fastest time in practice
  • Made good on that in qualifying an excellent sixth on the grid, beating a McLaren and both Ferraris
  • That was probably higher than the car was capable of holding, though he still had one McLaren and one Ferrari behind him at the end

Lando Norris

  • Out-qualified team mate Ricciardo by over a second, took seventh on the grid
  • Passed Ocon superbly on lap one, then got Perez at the restart
  • Was easily passed by the quicker Red Bull later in the race, but finished ‘best of the rest’ for the third time this year

Mick Schumacher

  • Out-qualified team mate Mazepin by almost half a second
  • Kept in touch with the Williams drivers in the race while his team mate dropped back
  • Pounced on an error by Latifi to claim 17th place, which looks as good as the Haas is capable of
  • With one fewer pit stop, was almost a minute ahead of Mazepin at the end

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Kimi Raikkonen

Raikkonen hit his team mate and couldn’t continue
  • Minor damage from a kerb affected him in Q2, leaving him 15th. He also qualified there, three places behind Antonio Giovinazzi
  • Ran into his team mate on lap two after making a mistake while changing a setting on his steering wheel, putting him out

Nikita Mazepin

  • Appeared to hold up Latifi in retaliation in qualifying, though Williams did not raise it with race control, possibly because Latifi inadvertently held Mazepin up earlier
  • Made an extra pit stop in the race to reduce the amount of time lost being lapped
  • Nearly took the race leader out while being lapped following a late warning from his team

Daniel Ricciardo

  • Eliminated from Q1 in a lowly 16th, over a second slower than his team mate
  • Worked his way forward quickly in the race – was 11th by lap seven – to salvage ninth
  • Missed his marks during his pit stop, which cost him a couple of seconds

And the rest

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton passed Bottas and Verstappen on-track to win
  • Like many drivers he couldn’t improve on final Q3 run. He had to settle for second on the grid, just 0.007s behind his team mate
  • A lapse at the restart cost him second place to Verstappen
  • Re-passed his championship rival and his team mate for comfortable second win of 2021

Valtteri Bottas

  • Took first pole of the season and held lead at start
  • Couldn’t match Hamilton or Verstappen’s race pace on medium tyres and was passed by both
  • Lost more time with a sensor problem, but used a fresh set of tyres to score the fastest lap bonus point

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Max Verstappen

It was a weekend of missed opportunities for Verstappen
  • Struggled with vibrations in practice
  • Missed out on pole after having fastest Q3 lap deleted for track limits at turn four
  • Passed Hamilton at the restart, but fell behind his rival again when Hamilton pounced on a momentary error
  • Passed Bottas for second
  • Coped with some car problems during the race, including difficulty selecting third gear
  • Should have taken bonus point for fastest lap but ran too wide at turn 14

Sergio Perez

  • Lined up fourth on the grid, almost matching Verstappen in Q3
  • Softer-tyred rivals took advantage of him at the start and restart – first Sainz, then Norris – though he got back to fourth
  • Ran a long opening stint to get in the mix with the leaders again, but was never likely to finish higher than fourth

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021
After qualifying poorly, Alonso raced well into the points
  • Had best time in practice deleted for track limits at infringement at turn one
  • Was mystified by his loss of form in qualifying, where he failed to follow team mate Ocon through to Q3 and took 13th
  • Showed his old verve in the race, running as high as sixth before pitting, then passed Gasly and Sainz on his way to eighth

Lance Stroll

  • Was the only Aston Martin driver to use the team’s new aerodynamic package but failed to progress from Q1, unlike team mate Vettel
  • Passed Tsunoda and Russell early in the race
  • Was allowed past Vettel in the latter stages to attack Giovinazzi but couldn’t pass him either, so handed the place back to his team mate

Sebastian Vettel

After reaching Q3, Vettel’s race was a disappointment
  • Slipped up in first practice, pulling into the McLaren pit box by mistake
  • Fared better in qualifying where he made his first appearance in Q3 this year
  • Lost places to Ricciardo, Alonso and Giovinazzi in the race, failing to score

Charles Leclerc

  • Reached Q3 on the medium compound but was out-qualified by team mate Sainz for the first time
  • Switching to the hard tyres, which suited Ferrari better, allowed him to pass his team mate and finish sixth

Carlos Sainz Jnr

  • Out-qualified team mate Leclerc for the first time and lined up ‘best of the rest’ in fifth
  • Ferrari pitted him early in a bid to provoke a reaction from McLaren, but the medium tyre compound proved the wrong choice and he fell from eighth to 11th in the last 10 laps

Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Autodromo do Algarve, 2021
Gasly grabbed the final point late in the race
  • Continued his run of Q3 appearances on a notably less competitive weekend for AlphaTauri
  • Couldn’t keep Ricciardo and Ocon behind, but a late pass on Sainz secured the final point

Yuki Tsunoda

  • Eliminated from Q2 after being comfortably outperformed by Gasly
  • Lost a place to Stroll, gained one back from Russell early in the race
  • Finished half a minute behind Gasly, well out of the points

Antonio Giovinazzi

  • Missed first practice to stand aside for Callum Ilott
  • Took 12th on the grid and finished there, passing Vettel on the way to lead both Aston Martins home

George Russell

Williams’ Saturday pace flattered to deceive
  • Qualified 11th, his best ever in a Williams, and just five hundredths of a second away from a place in Q3
  • Started seven places ahead of Latifi, but was passed by him at one stage in the race
  • Only had his team mate and the Haas pair behind him at the end, describing his car as “undriveable” at times

Nicholas Latifi

  • Had an altercation with Mazepin on final qualifying effort
  • Failed to progress through Q2, unlike team mate Russell who only just missed Q3
  • Overtook Russell during the race, though he went off the track while doing so
  • Made an error late in the race which allowed Schumacher to pass

Over to you

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