With a lower track temperature than normal, the penultimate Saturday qualifying for the 2021 season was undertaken in Portimao.
Pol Espargaró managed to go directly into Q2, thanks to his lap in FP3. With a best time of 1:39.058, the Repsol Honda team rider was sixth fastest in the qualifying run.
He will start from the second row of the grid, a strategically favourable position due to the characteristics of the Portuguese track.
Stefan Bradl would have to go into Q1. The German rider set a best time of 1:39.907, not enough to qualify first or second and thus go through to Q2. The stand-in rider will be on the seventh row of the grid.
“Today showed the progress we have made this year with the bike, with me and with the team. I made a mistake at T1 during my fastest lap so maybe I could have found another tenth but otherwise I was feeling good on the bike – even after our crash in FP4. The front two rows are our target every weekend, when you’re here you can be there in the group in the race with a good start. I’m happy we’ve made this step, but we can be there. Still, we need to look a bit at what tyre to use in the race because there’s a lot of possible options here.”
“Qualifying was OK, of course I would have liked to be further ahead but in the end I am still missing something over one lap. This is probably the area where I see the biggest difference between myself and the other riders, pushing to get the most out of the tyre over one lap. In the end I think we have done and are doing a good job, the distance to the front is not very big because the times are so tight. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, the plan is to stay in the group and see what happens.”