Verstappen showed just how aggressive he’s willing to be in wheel-to-wheel combat with Hamilton last time out. He forced the Mercedes driver over the kerbs fighting for the lead of the race at Imola, and came out on top in that battle.
While overtaking stands to be a little bit easier in Portimao, the opening few laps will be critical to the outcome of the race, with Mercedes possibly the faster package in race trim against the Red Bull but lacking over the course of a single flying lap.
Does that tip the scale in Red Bull’s favour then? Possibly. Mercedes has shown it can dictate the strategy in much the same way that Red Bull has done in the past when it has a sniff of victory but not leading the race.
In Bahrain things worked out for Merc as Hamilton put up a great defensive driving display to take the season-opening race. In round two though the reigning champions couldn’t make the strategy work for them after a slow pit stop allowed Verstappen back into the lead despite the possibility of a successful overcut.
Watch out for race runs in FP2 over the final pre-qualifying warm-ups of FP3.
2021 Portuguese Grand Prix session times
Free Practice 1: 11:30 – 12:30
Free Practice 2: 15:00 – 16:00
Free Practice 3: 12:00 – 13:00
Qualifying: 15:00 – 16:00
Race: 15:00 – 17:00