Championship leader Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for Formula 1’s inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes rival Valtteri Bottas, with Max Verstappen third for Red Bull Racing.
Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly suffered a shock elimination in Q1, which resulted in one of his worst qualifying result of the 2020 season so far.
The battle for pole was ultimately settled by the first runs in Q3 as Esteban Ocon’s spin on his sole run late in the final segment brought out the yellow flags.
Therefore Hamilton’s lap of one minute, 15.144 seconds – a new Mugello F1 track record – stood as the quickest time, even though the six-time world champion was running ahead of the incident on his second Q3 run – where he failed to improve.
Bottas was 0.059 seconds adrift of Hamilton’s best time after the first run, but he left the pits further behind in the pack compared to his teammate and abandoned his last lap as he came across the Ocon incident at Turn 3, Poggio Secco, where the Renault driver had dip a wheel into the gravel and spun off backwards.
Verstappen was able to get a second Q3 lap in and set a personal best, but was still 0.365 seconds adrift of Hamilton, who only got ahead of Bottas for the first time in the weekend when he topped Q2.
Alex Albon took fourth, with Charles Leclerc giving Ferrari something to enjoy ahead of its 1000th world championship Formula 1 race as he took fifth with the last improvement in Q3, coming off a poor result at Monza last weekend for the Scuderia.
Sergio Perez completed his only Q3 run in the middle of segment and took sixth as no one else in the top ten could improve, which meant his Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll took seventh.
Daniel Ricciardo was eighth ahead of Carlos Sainz, while Ocon took P10 without setting a time in Q3.
Sainz’s last-gasp improvement in Q2 got him through to the final shootout, but at the expense of his teammate as Lando Norris was knocked out in 11th – the first time since the 2019 Italian Grand Prix that he has not made it through to Q3.
Daniil Kvyat took 12th despite going off at the exit of Savelli on his final lap in Q2, which he had to abandon as he as fully off the road and into the gravel, with Kimi Raikkonen P13 for Alfa Romeo.
Sebastian Vettel had another low-key qualifying result as he finished 14th, only ahead of Romain Grosjean in Q2.
In Q1, Vettel’s last-gasp improvement knocked out Gasly, who will start from his lowest grid spot of the season in P16 as a result.
Antonio Giovinazzi was shuffled down to P17 by the flurry of late times at the end of the opening segment, while George Russell maintained his 100% qualifying record against Nicholas Latifi despite a major off on this final lap.
The Williams driver, who missed much of FP3 to a brake-by-wire issue, slid wide at the exit of Savelli, with both right-side wheels in the gravel and the car bouncing across the grass as he shot back left for Arrabbiata 1.
But it did not disrupt his progress to a personal best time in Q1, which became P18 on the grid ahead of Latifi, who was the only driver of the five knocked out not to set a best time on his final run.
Kevin Magnussen qualified last for Haas.
So congratulations to Hamilton with yet another pole position. His seventh this season. Impressive qualifying form. Bring on the first race at Mugello next.
Tuscan Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.144
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:15.203
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:15.509
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:15.954
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:16.270
6 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:16.356
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:16.311
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:16.543
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:17.870
10 Esteban Ocon Renault No time
11 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:16.640
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:16.854
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:16.854
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:16.858
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:17.254
16 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.125
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:17.220
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:17.232
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:17.320
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:17.348