A late spin by Renault’s Esteban Ocon has thwarted weekend-long pace setter Valtteri Bottas’ chance to snare pole position, leaving his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to become the inaugural pole-sitter for the Tuscan Grand Prix from Mugello.
Hamilton had edged out Bottas in his first Q3 lap by 0.059s in a strong turn in pace after the Finn had topped all three practice sessions on the run into qualifying.
But the defending world champion failed to improve his time on his final run, though it fared much worse for Bottas who come across yellow flags in sector one for a stricken Ocon.
Ultimately, Bottas’ misfortune gifted Hamilton his seventh pole of the year it places him in the box seat to further strengthen his championship challenge.
Bottas was frustrated after qualifying, admitting Ocon cost him a realstic shot at pole but ultimately conceded Hamilton’s stronger opening run meant he deserved to start behind his world champion teammate.
“I still had more time in there and I was just waiting to get it all right,” said Bottas. “Run one was OK, but not perfect, so I was looking forward to it.
“I just didn’t get the opportunity and for sure it’s disappointing, because the speed has been good all weekend.
“I felt there was still something to be found and I was confident of myself but there was no chance with the double yellow in the second runs.
“In the end I should have been stronger first run, his first run was better than mine, so that’s it.”
Max Verstappen fronted an all-Red Bull second row, 0.36s adrift of Hamilton as the Dutch racer struggled to match his promising pace from free practice.
Charles Leclerc gave Ferrari something to smile about on their 1000th Grand Prix to end the Scuderia’s horrid drought of Q3 absences to end up fifth quickest.
His teammate Sebastian Vettel, however, would only end up 14th quickest for his fifth straight elimination in qualifying – a record that hasn’t been matched since his Toro Rosso days in 2008.
Sergio Perez qualified sixth but will be demoted two places for a collision with Kimi Raikkonen in FP2. That gives a third row start to his Racing Point stablemate Lance Stroll.
Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Ocon rounded out the final spots in Q3.
A notable omission was the second McLaren of Lando Norris who until today had started inside the top-10 on every race. The Briton will start 11th ahead of Daniil Kvyat.
Last weekend’s shock winner Pierre Gasly experienced a more grounded day for AlphaTauri and was eliminated in Q1 in 16th.
Antonio Giovinazzi, the Williams pair and Kevin Magnussen completed the quintet of early departures behind Gasly.