Verstappen Second as Three Hondas Score in Portugal
May 3, 2021 — PORTIMAO, Portugal
Red Bull driver earns third podium in as many races
Sergio Perez leads 11 laps on his way to fourth
Pierre Gasly earns championship point for AlphaTauri
Max Verstappen continued to show the way for Honda's Formula 1 program as the Red Bull Racing Honda driver claimed his third podium of 2021 by finishing second in Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit.
The Red Bull Racing duo of Verstappen and Sergio Perez locked out the second row by qualifying third and fourth respectively, Verstappen settling for third after the Round 2 winner lost a polewinning lap after exceeding track limits in Saturday's qualifying. Pierre Gasly advanced to Q3 for the third time in as many races to qualify ninth while rookie Yuki Tsunoda gridded 14th in just his third race in Formula 1.
Verstappen was quick all day long, initially wresting second place from Lewis Hamilton on Lap 7 after an early Safety Car period, before dropping behind Valtteri Bottas and into third leading into the race's only pit stop. Verstappen pitted one lap before Bottas, closing the gap as his Red Bull pit team gained him a full second when compared to Bottas' stop a lap later. The time gained allowed Verstappen to attack Bottas as he came out of the pit, making the pass for second heading into Turn 5 on Bottas' out lap.
Meanwhile Sergio Perez employed a long-range strategy, extending his Pirellis all the way to Lap 50 before pitting for the first time. This move allowed the Mexican driver to lead his first laps of the year, and cemented the fourth-place finish that was his best of the young season
Gasly ran in the top 10 all day, but found himself out of the points after being passed by Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso on Lap 49. Undaunted, the Frenchman fought back and tracked down Carlos Sainz Jr. on the race's penultimate lap to secure the day's final point.
Running the third race of his F1 career, Yuki Tsunoda started 14th and got 66 laps of valuable experience on his way to a 15th-place result. Unfortunately, the day ended the same way Saturday did for Verstappen, as he set the fastest lap time on the last lap of the race, only to see it deleted as he exceeded the track limits.
Verstappen strengthened his hold on second place in the driver standings and is eight points behind Hamilton after three races. Perez climbed to sixth with his finish and AlphaTauri's Gasly is 10th after his second points-paying result in a row. The teams will stay in the area, moving 12 hours west to Barcelona for next week's Spanish Grand Prix.
Technical Director, Honda F1
“Having missed out on the front row yesterday, we still felt we had a chance of winning today and we came very close, with Max finishing second, one place higher than his grid position for Red Bull Racing Honda and Sergio finishing where he started. It's very encouraging that in the three races so far, we have always been on the podium as it is that consistency which is so important for the championships. Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda had a harder time of it than in the first two rounds, but Pierre delivered a solid performance and picked up the final point. It was a tough afternoon for Yuki, for whom it was the first time at this track which has low grip and where it is difficult to warm up the tires. But he has learned lessons that will be useful for the future. Now we go straight to Spain where we will be ready to fight as hard as always.”
Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing Honda
Start 3rd, Finish: 2nd
“Something about this track really does not suit our car and I think in general this was a bit of an off weekend in terms of grip and overall pace. We knew last year that we weren't particularly strong here, so this year has been a bit better and we managed to finish ahead of one Mercedes, but it wasn't quite good enough to get them both. Nevertheless, second is still a pretty good result and we always knew this season would be up and down in terms of the tracks we were strong at and the ones Mercedes were. I tried to put the pressure on Valtteri in the beginning as he was struggling for grip, but clearly Lewis behind had more pace and he made it past us both. I was then able to undercut Valtteri in the pit stop but you could clearly see on the hard tires we were just a bit slower, some laps we could match Lewis and others it was just not possible. Towards the end of the race Valtteri was even coming back at me which showed their pace today. It's a shame the Fastest Lap got taken away, stupid track limits [laughs], they should just put gravel back! We scored good points here but I'm looking forward to Barcelona, a track that has more normal grip levels and where I have good memories. I think we will also see a clearer picture of how teams have been progressing. It's a long season ahead so a lot can happen.”
Sergio Perez - Red Bull Racing Honda
Start: 4th, Finish: 4th
“Today was a busy race on my side! Lando managed to get past me at Turn 4 but I thought he had all four wheels off the track so I didn't defend thinking he'd have to give the place back due to track limits but that wasn't the case. It was a misjudgment on my side and a mistake but being stuck behind Lando compromised our race and cost us a lot of time. When I got past him my pace was good but I think the damage had already been done. Afterwards we tried to do something different with strategy by going long in the hope of a Safety Car but it didn't work out and fourth was the maximum we could do. We are definitely making good progress with the car and the race pace, Of course there are still areas I need to get on top of and improve but it's just a process and we'll continue working hard for next week in Barcelona.”
Pierre Gasly - Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 9th, Finish: 10th
“It wasn't the race we wanted but, to be honest, it was what we expected. We've really struggled here across the weekend, so I think to come away with a point is positive. I was happy at the start of the race as I was managing to follow Charles, but ultimately we lacked pace – due to having no grip in the low-speed corners - and in the end I think it was great to pass Carlos to get a point for the team. I think the circuit in Barcelona will suit our car more, as it's a much faster track, so I'm hoping that we'll perform better there in a few days' time.”
Yuki Tsunoda - Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 14th, Finish: 15th
“It was really tough today, I had no grip at the beginning of the race and there was just no pace at all for me out there. I've struggled all weekend with the balance of the car, the conditions haven't helped, but everyone has been driving the same track so we just need to analyze the data, to see what didn't work for us here in Portugal, and learn from it ahead of next weekend in Spain.”