In a dry, wet, dry, wet session, and much to the chagrin of the tifosi, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen turned a lap of 1m27.999s on Intermediate tires to win pole for the Emilia Romagna Sprint race at Imola by just 0.779s over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
“It was very tricky, especially on the slicks,” said Leclerc.
“It was all about putting the laps in and waiting for Q3 to put everything together. P2 is not a disaster, everything to play for tomorrow and we’ll give it everything.”
Lando Norris was 3rd for Mclaren 1.132s behind Verstappen while Kevin Magnussen was sensational to put the Haas-Ferrari 4th on the grid Saturday.
“I’m happy, I’m top three which is quite a surprise for us,” said Norris.
“There was a lot left [for us] but I pushed too hard on the out-lap. There was a possibility for us to have a go at Charles, the car was feeling good, and I was feeling confident. These conditions made a big difference for us today, if it was completely dry, we wouldn’t be in third place.
On the third row with the fifth fastest time is Fernando Alonso in the Alpine, followed by the second McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo. Seventh and eighth place for Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull and the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas, while Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin and Carlos Sainz completed the top-10.
In Q2 the Ferrari Spanish driver spun and hit the barriers on the outside of Rivazza 2. Sainz had already scored a time to enter Q3, but was unable to participate due to some damage to the left side of his F1-75. Shortly after Sainz went off track, which brought to a red flag and a short break in practice, it started to rain.
The drivers who didn’t make it into the top-10 were unable to improve on the restart and they were left out of Q3. George Russell qualified with the 11th fastest time in the first Mercedes, ahead of Mick Schumacher (Haas) and the other Mercedes of 7-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, only 13th ahead of Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo) and Lance Stroll (Aston Martin).
The other big news was that both Mercedes’ were eliminated in Q2 with George Russell again schooling teammate Lewis Hamilton. Russell was 11th best and Hamilton 13th.
Hamilton had been able to qualify for Q2 by just 4 thousandths in Q1 over Yuki Tsunoda. The Japanese AlphaTauri driver finished 16th ahead of team-mate Pierre Gasly, who was faster than Williams’ Nicholas Latifi (18th). Stuck in the pits with a problem at the end of Q1 with no chance to improve, Esteban Ocon was only 19th with the Alpine, while Alexander Albon closed the group with the second Williams forced to retire in the early minutes because of an evident overheating in the brake area near the right rear tire.
Q3 ended 30 seconds early when Lando Norris stuffed his McLaren in the barriers at Acque Minerali – that corner has seen some action today.
There were five red flags in a qualifying session that lasted nearly two hours, and if this is how the rest of the weekend is set to pan out – we could be in for plenty of excitement.
Thanks to his best time in qualifying, the Dutchman will be on the first row of the grid for the Sprint Race starting tomorrow, scheduled over 21 laps on a sunny day with spring-like temperatures, Saturday’s “mini Grand Prix” will decide the starting grid for the Grand Prix that will get underway on Sunday (63 laps). It is the first Sprint of the Formula 1 season, a format that is gaining the enthusiasm of the fans and that allowed the public to experience already on Friday a breathtaking qualifying.
Imola Sprint Qualifying Results
|1||Max Verstappen||NED||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1m19.295s||1m18.793s||1m27.999s|
|2||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1m18.796s||1m19.584s||1m28.778s|
|3||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1m20.168s||1m19.294s||1m29.131s|
|4||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1m20.147s||1m19.902s||1m29.164s|
|5||Fernando Alonso||ESP||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m20.198s||1m19.595s||1m29.202s|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1m19.980s||1m20.031s||1m29.742s|
|7||Sergio Perez||MEX||Oracle Bull Racing||1m19.773s||1m19.296s||1m29.808s|
|8||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen||1m20.419s||1m20.192s||1m30.439s|
|9||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin||1m20.364s||1m19.957s||1m31.062s|
|10||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||1m19.305s||1m18.990s||No Time Set|
|11||George Russell||GBR||Mercedes AMG||1m20.383s||1m20.757s||–|
|12||Mick Schumacher||GER||Haas F1 Team||1m20.422s||1m20.916s||–|
|13||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG||1m20.470s||1m21.138s||–|
|14||Guanyu Zhou||CHN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen||1m19.730s||1m21.434s||–|
|15||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin||1m20.342s||1m28.119s||–|
|16||Yuki Tsunoda||JPN||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m20.474s||–||–|
|17||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m20.732s||–||–|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1m21.971s||–||–|
|19||Esteban Ocon||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m22.338s||–||–|
|20||Alexander Albon||THA||Williams Racing||No Time Set||–||–|