In a weekend dominated by Mercedes and Red Bull, the midfield battle we witnessed at the Portuguese Grand Prix ended up surprising many. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes extended their lead at the top, with Bottas finishing third to add points, over Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Red Bull. However, this left the final six scoring positions wide open to those teams chasing behind.
McLaren held the lead over Ferrari after Imola, with the British and Italian teams being the frontrunners for third in the Constructors’ championship. AlphaTauri were next, followed somewhat closely, by Aston Martin and Alpine to finish the five teams identified as having a battle in the midfield this season.
As our weekend in Portimao has now ended, which midfield team is leading the way?
Lando Norris’ stellar start to the season continued once again yesterday, as the young Brit secured his third straight top-five finish. Starting in P7, Norris moved his way up to fourth early in the race before losing out to Perez on the home straight but was able to place the McLaren in fifth come the checkered flag. Daniel Ricciardo’s Sunday was as strong. The Australian’s ninth-place finish was a Driver of the Day worthy performance, however, Perez was awarded Driver of the Day. This extended the British team’s lead over Ferrari. Starting in P16 after a poor Q1 performance, meant Ricciardo had to perform superbly on race day, which he did as he moved his car up the pack and into a points-scoring position.
Ferrari could only muster eight points on Sunday, as Carlos Sainz struggled and missed out on a top 10 finish, despite his great grid positioning from qualifying. The Spaniard started in P5 with Charles Leclerc starting three places back in P8 on the grid, yet the Monegasque driver was able to claim points for the Italian team. Leclerc finished behind Norris in sixth place, claiming eight points for Ferrari’s push in the Constructors’ championship. However, they now sit four points further away from McLaren after this weekend and are now 11 points behind the British team.
Alpine. Wow. What a weekend for the French team. After only gaining three points in the two opening Grand Prix’s in Bahrain and Imola, Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso combined for 10 points yesterday. A seventh-place finish for Ocon and an eighth-place finish for Alonso boosted the team ahead of AlphaTauri and Aston Martin in the Constructors’ championship. Alpine looked strong all weekend, with Ocon qualifying in P6 after a strong FP3 session on Saturday morning. Alonso’s pace matched those of the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers in the final third of the race, which resulted in the Spaniard overtaking Sainz and Ricciardo to claim a points finish.
A single point was the best AlphaTauri could achieve yesterday in Portimao, with Pierre Gasly finishing in 10th position. The Frenchman struggled to find the pace to move up the grid but managed to hold his starting position and claim a point for the Italian team. Their rookie driver Yuki Tsunoda was at the back of the grid for the majority of the race, ahead of both Williams and Haas drivers. The Japanese driver has been unable to replicate his season-opener performance at the Bahrain Grand Prix in Imola and now Portimao. AlphaTauri have been leapfrogged by Alpine, after their strong performance, in the Constructors’ championship and will now look to bounce back in Barcelona next weekend.
Aston Martin’s return to Formula 1 has been all but what they wanted. A pointless weekend in Portimao has pushed them to the back of the midfield, as Alpine’s 10 point performance moves them up to fifth. Sebastian Vettel reached Q3 for the first time since the 2020 British Grand Prix in August but was unable to put the car in a points-scoring position. Lance Stroll struggled all weekend, with the Canadian unable to get out of Q1 and finishing 14th, behind his teammate.
Which team in the midfield has had the best weekend? Let us know in the comments!