Hamilton takes pole position at Tuscan Grand Prix

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

5 thoughts to “Hamilton takes pole position at Tuscan Grand Prix”

  1. Tuscan Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Valtteri Bottas had led the way through practice, but Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton got the job done when it counted as he snatched pole for the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello…

    Hamilton spent much of practice getting comfortable with the new track, nestled in the Tuscan hills, rather than chasing outright lap time. It was Bottas that led the way after Q1, but there was a few hundredths that separated them, and Hamilton then ramped it up in Q2 to lead a session for the first time during the weekend.

    In the first runs in Q3, Hamilton once again set the pace, with Bottas within 0.06s, but all hope was not lost as there was still one run to go. However, Renault’s Esteban Ocon got it all wrong on his lap, spinning and bringing out the yellow flags, which forced much of the field to back off.

    That gave Hamilton his 95th career pole position and 69th for Mercedes, the latter figure higher than the career total of any other driver. With Bottas slotting into second, it gave Mercedes their seventh consecutive front row lockout – two short of their record set in 2014-15.

    Max Verstappen went third quickest three tenths of a second adrift, the Dutchman nearly 0.5s clear of his Red Bull team mate Alex Albon. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc got the job done before the yellow flags came out, his lap catapulting him up into fifth on the grid at a track owned by his Ferrari team.

    The Racing Point duo were next up, Sergio Perez outperforming Lance Stroll, despite his team mate having the heavily updated package which includes a slick new sidepod arrangement and new brake ducts. However, the Mexican will drop behind Stroll on the grid, following his one-place penalty for his collision with Kimi Raikkonen in practice.

    Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo went eighth quickest, ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz with Ocon – who didn’t set a lap time in Q3 courtesy of his spin – rounding out the top 10.

    Elsewhere, Italian Grand Prix race winner Pierre Gasly suffered a shock Q1 exit, the Frenchman struggling with understeer, while Sebastian Vettel couldn’t give Ferrari’s home crowd something to smile about with two cars in the top 10 as he was booted out in Q2.

    Q1 Vettel scrapes through but Monza winner Gasly out

    Bottas continued where he left off in practice, topping the timesheets for the fourth consecutive session at Mugello, the Finn edging ahead of Mercedes team mate Hamilton by just 0.027s.

    Verstappen slotted into third, but he was six tenths further back, with team mate Albon needing a second run to move up to fourth, 0.2s slower.

    Race winner Gasly struggled with understeer in his first run, leaving him in the drop zone, and while he improved second time around, the car still looked twitchy and he was bumped out by Vettel at the death.

    That was the Frenchman’s first Q1 elimination since last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, which incidentally was his first race since being demoted from Red Bull.

    Russell briefly looked like he could cause a surprise but ran wide and bounced across the gravel to lose a bunch of time. He still managed to go faster on that lap than team mate Latifi, mind.

    Giovinazzi is nothing but consistent, the Italian remaining the only driver to have got knocked out of Q1 at every race this season, with Kevin Magnussen slowest for the second time in three races

    Knocked out: Gasly, Giovinazzi, Russell, Latifi. Magnussen

    Q2 – Vettel dumped out as Hamilton beats Bottas for the first time

    For the first time this weekend, Hamilton snatched the upper hand over team mate Bottas, with Verstappen moving within 0.2s – although he gained several tenths courtesy of a tow from Sainz out of the final corner.

    Sainz was in the drop zone after the first runs, but lifted himself up into the top 10, at the expense of team mate Lando Norris, just a tenth of a second separating the pair.

    Danill Kvyat ended up 12th, outqualifying Gasly for only the second time this year, while Kimi Raikkonen’s 13th is Alfa Romeo’s best qualifying result of the season.

    Vettel wasn’t able to save himself twice in a row, the German struggling for performance as he was bumped out of Q2 in 14th, meaning he has now gone five races without outqualifying Leclerc.

    Q3 – Mercedes stetch ahead as Ocon spins

    Both Hamilton and Bottas managed to go even quicker in Q3, pulling clear of the chasing Red Bull of Verstappen, who could only get to within 0.4s after the first runs.

    Second time around, Ocon lost control of his Renault at Turn 5, which meant a flurry of drivers – including both Mercedes – had to back out of their final runs.

    Hamilton’s opening lap was good enough for pole, his seventh in nine races this season. With overtaking expecting to be difficult at a fast and narrow Mugello, reigning world champion Hamilton is in great shape to win his sixth race in nine.

  2. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc commented that fifth in qualifying was beyond the team’s expectations. Motorsport.com has the full details.

    Charles Leclerc was left “very happy” after qualifying fifth for the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello, saying the result surpassed all of Ferrari Formula 1 team’s expectations.

    Ferrari entered the Mugello race weekend looking to bounce back from two races without points after struggling with the low downforce requirements of Spa and Monza.

    While teammate Sebastian Vettel dropped out in Q2, qualifying 14th, Leclerc was able to advance to Q3 and then secure fifth place on the grid with his final lap.

    Although Leclerc benefitted from a yellow flag behind that denied many of his rivals the chance to improve, the Monegasque driver was delighted with the result.

    “I’m very happy, very happy with the lap overall,” Leclerc said. “I put everything together and P5 was definitely above any of our expectations. So very, very happy.

    “Monza and Spa was extremely difficult for the whole team. I struggled massively to drive the car with those low downforce settings, [it was] very difficult with the balance.

    “But here we managed to put the balance right, and it felt very good in the car. We are lacking overall performance to be able to fight with the guys in front, but the balance was very good today.

    “It gave me confidence, and I could give my best on that qualy lap. But it was tricky, because the first lap in Q3, I was with old tyres.

    “So then to go from old to new, it was tricky, but at the end we made it happen.”

    Ferrari is celebrating its 1,000th grand prix at Mugello this weekend, but Leclerc felt the team faced a struggle to stay so far up the order after judging the race pace of the cars starting behind him.

    “There is a good opportunity,” Leclerc said. “But on the other hand, if we look at the race pace of the other teams on Friday, there are quite a lot of cars that are stronger than us on Friday.

    “It’s going to be difficult to keep them behind, but that’s my job in the car and I will give everything.”

    Vettel was less upbeat about Ferrari’s chances after failing to reach Q3 for the fifth race in a row, explaining that he was fighting with the SF1000 car throughout qualifying.

    “It is a bit of a fight, but it’s a fight the whole year,” Vettel said. “We try nevertheless to do everything we can, to understand the car a bit more.

    “I try to do anything I can driving to adapt, but I think there’s still more to do.”

  3. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas says yellow flags in Q3 – caused by the spin from Esteban Ocon – denied him pole opportunity. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Valtteri Bottas was left ruing yellow flags late in qualifying for the Tuscan Grand Prix after being denied a final chance to fight Lewis Hamilton for pole position.

    Bottas entered qualifying at Mugello off the back of leading all three practice sessions, and was able to set the pace for Mercedes in Q1.

    But Bottas trailed Hamilton for the first time in the weekend after their maiden runs in Q3, with the Finn sitting 0.059 seconds off the provisional pole time.

    Hamilton was unable to improve on his final qualifying lap, opening the door for Bottas to snatch pole away, only for yellow flags to force Bottas to abandon his effort following a spin for Esteban Ocon.

    “It had been a good start to the week and good free practice sessions, including today,” Bottas said.

    “After practice three, I was still looking at all the things I could improve for the qualifying, and everything was going nice and smooth in Q1 and Q2.

    “The lap in Q3 first lap wasn’t quite good enough, so I also felt there was definitely time still to be found, and I was confident of myself doing it.

    “Obviously there was no chance with the double yellows in the second run, so in the end I should have just done a better job in the first run.

    “Lewis managed to find the pace, and his first run was better than mine. So that’s it.”

    It marked Hamilton’s fourth consecutive pole position and the 95th of the Briton’s F1 career, acting as a boost heading into Sunday’s race where he will look to extend his 47-point lead over Bottas in the championship standings.

    Bottas said his race pace during practice on Friday was “good”, and was hopeful of getting the jump on Hamilton on the run to the first corner on Sunday.

    “There’s still all to play for,” Bottas said.

    “Of course it would have been nice to start from pole. But still, it’s one of the longest runs of this season into Turn 1.

    “If the headwind stays, the tow is going to be quite powerful into Turn 1. I’ll try to turn my thoughts into the race.”

    Mugello has not previously hosted an F1 race before, and has won praise from drivers about the physical nature of the layout with lots of high-speed corners.

    Bottas said after qualifying he welcomed the physical challenge posed by Mugello.

    “It’s one of the most physical tracks, but I really like it,” Bottas said. “That’s how it should be. I like a bit of pain, so it’s always good fun.

    “In the end like in the qualifying lap, you’re so focused that you don’t really feel any pain. You definitely notice after the lap that you’ve done something

  4. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton commented that the pressure is “higher than ever” to find time for pole position following his teammate’s pace in the practice sessions. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Tuscan Grand Prix polesitter Lewis Hamilton says he felt “the pressure was higher than ever” to find time around Mugello after Valtteri Bottas topped the opening Formula 1 practice sessions.

    F1 is visiting the Tuscany track for a race weekend for the first time after it was added to the re-drawn 2020 calendar as a result of the coronavirus disruption to the planned events.

    This meant many drivers – including Hamilton – are making their first visit to Mugello, where Bottas topped all three practice sessions and Q1.

    But Hamilton moved ahead with the quickest time in Q2 and then beat Bottas to pole with the F1’s latest Mugello track record in Q3 – where the Finn was frustrated by yellow flags flying for Esteban Ocon’s late spin.

    “In my past I always felt that my strength was learning a circuit quite quickly,” Hamilton said when asked about his work to find time after Friday practice, where he had ended the first day of the event’s track action with the second fastest time.

    “And for this one, we went on the simulator, which I never do, and [I] don’t feel like I benefitted particularly.

    “But then getting here there was a lot of work that… the pressure was incredibly high.

    “Because I’m going out there doing laps and I’m struggling to find the limit in certain sectors. And Valtteri was miles ahead, really, in some of those areas.

    “So [it felt like] the pressure was higher than ever because if I hadn’t done the work then I wouldn’t have got the result that we got at the end.”

    Hamilton went on to explain the “incredible amount of detail that you have to into” with the engineers for drivers to find time through weekend.

    “Last night [was spent] dissecting every single detail basically, each sector – really trying to fine-tune that set-up,” he continued.

    “As a racing driver there’s a real fine line between knowing whether [something is] understeer or oversteer – and whether you’re on the limit or not in certain places.

    “Because you can be on the limit through one corner but not through the rest of the corners.

    “For example, it could be the first one or then not the second one and then the third one you are – and so [it’s about] really understanding whether you’ve got the balance right within yourself and then knowing what you do need.

    “For what to request for when you do move towards the limit – to pre-empt what the car is going to do.

    “There’s a real science to it and that’s why I have so much respect for these drivers – because it’s not only the ability to drive, but to understand those things and to be engineers at the end of the day.

    “You have to work with these geniuses that can balance numbers like nobody else – but we need to be able to do that on the track.”

  5. Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly explains reasons behind his Q1 exit at Mugello, one week on after winning in Monza. Motorsport.com provides the details.

    Pierre Gasly blamed a mixture of a wrong set-up direction and running out of battery power at the end of the lap for his surprise Q1 exit at the Tuscan Grand Prix.

    Just one week after Gasly took a sensational victory at Monza, the Frenchman was an early victim in qualifying at Mugello as he missed getting through to Q2 by just 0.056 seconds. He will start from 16th on the grid.

    Speaking after shouting a French expletive over the team radio when he found out he was out, Gasly said that he and AlphaTauri simply paid the price for a tight midfield pack leaving no room for error.

    “It’s obviously a very, very disappointing qualifying for us after a great result [in Italy],” he said. “We did a massive step back in qualifying.

    “We did a few mistakes which didn’t happened so far this season and unfortunately in this midfield, with the margins we have, they were really costly.”

    Gasly said that losing out on battery power on the run to the line was enough to make the difference in getting him into Q2, but it wasn’t the only reason he struggled.

    “Today we missed it for half a tenth and we lost over a tenth with the deployment, running out of SOC (State of Charge) way too early before the line,” he said.

    “We also made a few [setup] changes after P3 which didn’t go in the right direction, and we are still analyzing why we basically went slower than P3. There is less fuel in the car so we lost grip and we can see it, so we are still investigating.

    “But I’m not blaming anyone. I’m just saying us as a team didn’t do the perfect job today and, with the margins of half a tenth, it is nothing. But today the few little mistakes we did clearly cost us a lot.”

    Asked by Motorsport.com if the disappointment of the day was made greater by the contract with his win last weekend, Gasly said: “No, not really. It just shows the reality of where we are in this midfield.

    “Last week was exceptional, but we know that in this midfield it is so tight. If you make mistakes as we did today, yeah, there is no room for errors.”

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