Lewis Hamilton is one pole position away from a century after scoring his 99th pole for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.
Hamilton failed to improve on his final Q3 run, though his time still held up for pole as Red Bull’s Sergio Perez came within 0.035s of the Mercedes to snatch second.
Max Verstappen was a further 0.087s slower than Hamilton after his second and final run, putting him third on the grid.
The good news for Red Bull is that the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas could only muster P8 after a challenging final session.
With Hamilton in the firing line of two Red Bulls for the very first time, mixed strategies are expected to play out between Perez starting on the softer tyres and Verstappen starting on the medium compound for tomorrow’s race.
After crashing in Friday’s FP2, Charles Leclerc bounced back to qualify on the second row, edging out Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri.
Daniel Ricciardo fronts a McLaren 6-7 after Lando Norris’ best lap was deleted for track infringements.
Had Norris’ laps not been deleted, he could have been looking at a second-row start.
“We should have been P3,” Norris lamented. “We should have been in with a chance to score more points tomorrow.
“I let everyone down. I am pretty disappointed in myself.”
Back-to-back poor laps from Bottas left him eighth, ahead of Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll, who had both of his Q3 laps deleted.
Carlos Sainz missed out on a spot in the top-ten shootout in his first Italian race for Ferrari. The margin between him and tenth at the end of Q2 was a measly 0.061s.
George Russell starred for the ailing Williams team, outqualifying several big guns and starts tomorrow’s race from 12th.
Sebastian Vettel was 13th for Aston Martin, ahead of the second Williams of Nicholas Latifi.
Qualifying was disrupted by a lengthy red flag when Yuki Tsunoda crashed out early in Q1. The AlphaTauri speared into the wall backwards, doing significant damage to both his car and the barrier.
The race is scheduled to start at 1 am NZT on April 19 and will be live on Spark Sport.
|Carlos Sainz Jr