Max Verstappen: Pole Wouldn’t Have Stopped Lewis Hamilton From Passing Me in Portimao

Published 05/02/2021, 2:23 PM EDT
Formula One F1 – Portuguese Grand Prix – Algarve International Circuit – Portimao, Portugal – May 2, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen reacts after finishing second in the race Pool via REUTERS/Gabriel Bouys


The biggest observation from the 2021 Portuguese GP was the pace differential between Mercedes and Red Bull. Title rivals, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, finished in the top two places yet again with the former pipping the latter for the win. But would their positions be reversed had Verstappen took pole position on saturday?

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The Dutchman does not believe that he would have kept a Mercedes car behind him even then. It is because he feels the RB16B lacked a “little bit of grip, little bit of top speed” compared to Mercedes’ W12.

“I think once Lewis would have passed Valtteri, then he would have come at me anyway. So, I am not sure if I could have kept him behind,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1 after the race.

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Formula One F1 – Portuguese Grand Prix – Algarve International Circuit – Portimao, Portugal – May 2, 2021 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during the race REUTERS/Marcelo Del Pozo

As for him chasing the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton is out of question. Even though he did pass Hamilton on the opening stages of the race, he simply couldn’t keep up –

“I jumped Lewis on the re-start and then trying to put pressure on Valtteri because he was struggling for grip. And still I couldn’t pass him.”

He admitted that they were “just not being able to put the pressure on them really.” So, back to the drawing board for the Red Bull engineers in a bid to improve their race pace.

Max Verstappen hopes ‘we don’t come back’ to Portimao

It was a nightmare weekend for the racers in terms of pure driving experience. On a slippery track, coupled with the gusty winds, it made it difficult to keep the cars on track. Hence, Max is already looking to a grippier Barcelona while wishing that F1 doesn’t come back to Portimao.

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“I am looking forward to it because the whole weekend, I didn’t enjoy because of the grip levels around here. So, first of all, I hope we don’t come back (here)!” said Max Verstappen with a straight face.

Formula One F1 – Portuguese Grand Prix – Algarve International Circuit – Portimao, Portugal – May 2, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton shakes hands with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after winning the race Pool via REUTERS/Gabriel Bouys

Barcelona is good. It’s a nice track for an F1 car and I think we’ll see more of how the progression of the teams have been from the start of the season till now.”

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We also hope that the FIA makes a genuine effort to improve the tarmac of this track.

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Bharat Aggarwal

757 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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