F1: Verstappen wins pole for Imola Sprint Race

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.

A happy Max Verstappen. “It was tricky out there, dry, rain, very slippery. It was hectic, a long qualifying but at the end I’m very happy to be here. It’s a great track, I know tomorrow and Sunday will be different in terms of weather conditions, but a great start to the weekend.”

“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.

Carlos Sainz Jr. choked again

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.

George Russell again the faster of the two factory Mercedes drivers

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.

Lando Norris walks away from his McLaren

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


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