Hamilton poised to surpass Schumacher after grabbing poll in Portugal

Sports Desk, Oct 24 (efe-epa).- Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton is well-placed to break Michael Schumacher’s record for most wins after taking pole position Saturday in qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Briton had been slower than Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in practice and in the first two rounds of qualifying, but produced a tremendous lap in Q3 to bump the Finn down to P2.

Hamilton, who moved level with Schumacher at 91 wins with his triumph at the Nürburging in the Eifel Grand Prix, made it around the track at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao with a time of 1:16.652, followed by Bottas at 1:16.754.

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) was the best of the rest, posting a lap of 1:16.904 to claim the third spot on the grid. The Dutchman will be joined on the second row Sunday by Monaco’s Charles Leclerc (Ferrari).

Mexican driver Sergio “Checo” Perez (Racing Point) overcame a poor start to the day to finish fifth, while Verstappen’s teammate, Alex Albon of Thailand, was the sixth-fastest in Q3.

The fourth row belongs to McLaren, with Spain’s Carlos Sainz in seventh and British teammate Lando Norris in P8. Frenchman Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – winner of the Italian Grand Prix – and Australian veteran Daniel Ricciardo complete the top 10.

Ricciardo, who came third in the Eifel GP after 2 1/2 years without a podium finish, was unable to take part in Q3 after running off the track at the end of Q2.

With victories in seven of 11 races so far in this pandemic-disrupted season, Hamilton has 230 points in the driver standings and seems certain to match Schumacher with a seventh championship.

His closest competitor is Bottas, with 161 points.

“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 of it to pull out the lap,” Hamilton said after winning pole.

“Valtteri’s been so quick this weekend, he’s topped every session, so I’ve just been digging and digging and digging and trying to find that extra time,” the 35-year-old driver said.

Bottas expressed regret about his choice to opt for just a single timed lap in Q3.

“Obviously, with one timed lap you can have less fuel in the car, but you might struggle with the tire warm-up. I went for that. It was my decision to go for one timed lap, because it worked in Q2, but apparently it seems like doing two timed laps for Lewis was better,” he said. EFE caf/dr

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