Bottas takes pole position at Imola

Valtteri Bottas rises to the challenge to his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position for Formula 1’s 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, with Max Verstappen third despite needing a rapid Q2 spark plug change.

Both Mercedes drivers and Verstappen will start the race on the medium Pirelli, giving them an expected additional strategy advantage over the rest of the top ten runners in the race.

Hamilton had the advantage after the opening runs in Q3 had been completed on the soft compound, with his one minute, 13.781 seconds putting him 0.031 seconds clear of Bottas despite the defending world champion dipping his rear wheels into the gravel exiting the final corner.

But Bottas responded on the second Q3 run, beating Hamilton to the fastest time in the first sector by just over 0.1 seconds, and then holding on for the rest of the lap to claim pole by just a tiny margin on 0.097 seconds.

Verstappen took up third position but was 0.567 seconds, with his former Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly taking an impressive fourth for AlphaTauri.

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Renault, with Alex Albon sixth after a complex session containing a spin and a track limits violation – something that applied to several drivers down the grid.

Charles Leclerc was seventh for Ferrari’s third home race of the revised 2020 season, ahead of Daniil Kvyat and the McLaren duo Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, who rounded out the top ten in Q3.

In Q2, Sergio Perez was eliminated when Albon leapt up the order with his final lap in the middle segment, after the Red Bull driver had had to switch from the mediums to softs following a spin at the exit of the Variante Alta chicane.

Esteban Ocon took P12, ahead of Williams George Russell, who was P11 after he’d completed his final lap before being shuffled back.

But Russell will start ahead of Sebastian Vettel after the Ferrari driver lost his best time in Q2, his last flying effort, for running too wide out of Variante Alta – after he too had attempt to get through on the mediums in the early Q2 running.

Lance Stroll also lost a time for running wide at Variante Alta, but it was not his personal best in Q2 as he nevertheless ended up P15 and out.

In Q1, Bottas and Albon only jumped up the order on their final runs after losing earlier times for exceeding track limits at the exit of the Piratella corner at the top of the hill in the second sector, while Hamilton lost what would have been the segments best time for the same infraction late-on.

The Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were the highest placed of the drivers eliminated after the opening session, with the latter running wide into the gravel trap out of the second Rivazza turn – the track’s last corner.

Then came Kimi Raikkonen, who lost a lap time good enough to get through, which would have eliminated Stroll in Q1, for running wide out of exiting Variante Alta – although the Finn insisted over his team radio his “left wheels were on the kerbs”.

Nicholas Latifi and home hero Antonio Giovinazzi brought up the rear of the field, with the latter setting a personal best on his final run, which was still not enough to lift him out of last place.

So well done Valtteri Bottas in taking pole position from Lewis Hamilton. Hopefully he has the confidence to take victory and fight his Mercedes teammate to the championship.

Qualifying positions, Imola:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:13.609
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.706
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:14.176
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:14.502
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:14.520
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:14.572
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:14.616
8 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:14.696
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:14.814
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:14.911
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:15.061
12 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:15.201
13 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:15.323
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:15.385
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:15.494
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:15.918
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:15.939
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’15.953
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:15.987
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:16.208

5 thoughts to “Bottas takes pole position at Imola”

  1. Imola qualifying review as reported by

    Beating Lewis Hamilton is no easy feat these days, but his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas found a way to do just that at Imola as he took a sensational pole position for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

    The Finn trailed Hamilton by just 0.031s after the first runs, but having topped both opening segments of qualifying, Bottas found the time when it mattered, lighting up the timesheets to take pole by 0.1s.

    Mercedes were in a class of their own at the historic and picturesque Italian track, with Max Verstappen unable to get within half a second of the silver cars, but fortunate to get to Q3 at all after encountering a power issue in Q2.

    Pierre Gasly, announced at AlphaTauri for 2021 ahead of the weekend, was in scintillating form all afternoon, the Frenchman comfortably in the top four throughout and crossing the line to end up fourth quickest to equal his career best start.

    Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was fifth, his fourth top-five start this season, ahead of Alexander Albon who seemed unhappy with the car, but found a way to at least start inside the top six, albeit it 0.4s adrift of team mate Verstappen.

    Charles Leclerc couldn’t repeat his heroics of the last couple of races, but the Ferrari driver was still a solid seventh with Daniil Kvyat making a rare appearance in Q3 for AlphaTauri.

    The McLarens didn’t have the pace to compete in the final shootout, with Lando Norris edging ahead of team mate Carlos Sainz for only the second time in the last eight races to complete the top 10.

    Q1 – Bottas leads the way as Russell stars again

    Bottas found himself in the unusual position of being in the drop zone in Q1 with three minutes to go after a scrappy opening run, forcing him to box for fresh rubber and going again.

    He made no mistake this time, the Finn going quickest, 0.008s ahead of Hamilton, with Verstappen in his customary position of third, albeit 0.8s off the pace.

    Albon was under pressure, too, but leapt out of the bottom five to comfortably inside the top 10, with Russel reaching Q2 for the eighth time in 12 races.

    Renault left it late with both cars to do their laps, particularly Daniel Ricciardo, but both the Australian and team mate Esteban Ocon cruised through as the track got quicker as the session went on.

    But there was tension for Lance Stroll. The Racing Point driver was on the bubble, and then got bumped into the drop zone at the death, only to be promoted when Kimi Raikkonen’s lap got deleted for exceeding track limits.

    The Finn will start 18th, behind the Haas duo of Grosjean and Magnussen – the latter running wide across the gravel on his last run – with Nicholas Latifi and Antonio Giovinazzi also out.

    This was only the second time Giovinazzi, who has been retained for next season, has been slowest of all in qualifying this year – the other occasion being the Spanish Grand Prix.

    Knocked out: Grosjean, Magnussen, Raikkonen, Latifi and Giovinazzi

    Q2 – Gasly shows stunning pace as Verstappen overcomes problem to progress

    There was high drama in Q2 when Verstappen sounded frantic on team radio as he warned his team he had a power issue. The Dutchman recovered to the pits and was then forced to wait as Red Bull removed bodywork and investigated the issue.

    With just a few minutes to go, Verstappen got back out and pumped in a lap under pressure that was easily good enough to get into Q3 – and on the medium compound tyres to boot.

    Only the Mercedes duo also managed to get through on the mediums, as Bottas led Hamilton in a one-two again.

    Gasly was the star of the session though, going third fastest on the soft tyres, less than a tenth of a second behind the Mercedes, with AlphaTauri team mate Daniil Kvyat also progressing for only the second time in the last 28 races.

    It was incredibly close in the midfield, with just a tenth of a second separating Ricciardo in fifth and Sergio Perez in 11th, the Racing Point driver failing to reach Q3 for the first time this year in dry conditions.

    He was joined by Esteban Ocon, outqualified by Ricciardo for he 11th consecutive race, Russell, Vettel – who failed to reach Q3 for a ninth consecutive race – and Stroll in getting knocked out.

    Knocked out: Perez, Ocon, Vettel, Russell, Stroll

    Q3 – Bottas gets the better of Hamilton, as Gasly stars

    Hamilton set the early pace in Q3, with Bottas edging into second as Mercedes continued to dominate running at Imola. Verstappen was an easy third and Gasly maintained his stunning form to stay inside the top four.

    Albon was an encouraging fifth, but that didn’t last long as his time was deleted, leaving him under pressure to put a lap together in the closing minutes. The Thai driver did just that, but he still trailed Verstappen and Gasly, the driver he replaced at Red Bull last year.

    Ricciardo found a bunch of time on his second run to leap up from eighth to fifth, with Leclerc comfortably outperforming team mate Vettel again in seventh. Kvyat has been closer to Gasly this weekend than much of this year – and he delivered a solid run to eighth, ahead of the McLaren duo of Norris and Sainz.

  2. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas admitted he “had the shakes” after taking Imola pole lap. has the full story.

    Valtteri Bottas says the risk taking he took to grab pole position for the Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix left him with the ‘shakes’ at the end of qualifying.

    The Finn had been locked in a tight qualifying battle with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the final qualifying segment at Imola, having been second overall after their first runs in Q3.

    But Bottas managed to find some extra pace on his final run to snatch the top spot by less than one tenth of a second and give him a track position advantage on a track that looks difficult to overtake on.

    Speaking straight after the session, Bottas said that he had been left exhilarated by having to push his car to the limit around Imola.

    “It is never easy, pole position, and yeah I really enjoyed this track,” he said. “When you push flat out, it’s beautiful. And I knew I had to improve in the last lap.

    “I found those small gains that were needed and it’s a great feeling when you get those. I definitely had the shakes after, so it’s good fun.”

    Bottas said he had particularly struggled today in the opening sequence of corners, but also key to his pole effort was being brave in the final section.

    “For me, Turn 2 and Turn 3, that’s something that I was really working on today and only got there at the end,” he said.

    “The last couple of corners as well. I struggled when I tried to risk and go for it, I struggled with instability with the car. But I knew in the last lap, I had to try. So I risked it and the car just managed to turn in nicely, and that’s good.”

    But while happy with his pole spot, Bottas is well aware about how exposed he is in the long run down to Turn 1 after the start.

    “Yeah, it’s gonna be a good fight,” he said. “It’s one of the longest runs in the calendar in to Turn 1 so no doubt Lewis and Max [Verstappen] will be will be chasing me. But, yeah, it’s a good place to start, and hopefully the pace is good. So game on.”

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen commented that the Q2 power issue “ruined” Imola qualifying rhythm. At least he was able to take P3 in the top ten shootout. has the details.

    Max Verstappen felt a suspected spark plug failure on his Red Bull Formula 1 car “ruined” his qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Saturday.

    Verstappen reported a loss of power on his Red Bull car during his first run on the medium tyres in Q2, forcing him to return to the pits for repairs.

    Red Bull reported that it was a suspected spark plug failure that had caused the loss of power, but the mechanics were able to complete the repairs in time to get Verstappen back out before the end of the session.

    Verstappen made it through to Q3 on the medium tyres, but struggled to match the Mercedes drivers for pace in the final stage of qualifying, finishing half a second off polesitter Valtteri Bottas’s lap time in third place.

    Verstappen felt the loss of running in Q2 led to his struggles in Q3 as he lacked rhythm in the final stages of qualifying.

    “I don’t know exactly what it was,” Verstappen said of the issue.

    “The bodywork had to go off, and the mechanics did a very good job to fix my car. But it basically ruined a bit my qualifying, because you have to go out on the medium, and try to nail the lap.

    “We managed to get through on that, but the reference was a bit off. The first lap then in Q3, the tyres were too cold because I was in the middle of the train. I never really got into a nice rhythm where you know I’ve got a bit of time left there, I can push a bit harder. It was a bit messy.

    “Even in Q3, the last lap, I was like well, I think we could have done quite a bit better here if we’d just had a smoother qualifying. But if you have that in Q2, and then you have to qualify on a different tyre as well midway through, it’s not great.

    “I didn’t expect of course to beat [Mercedes] in qualifying, but I wanted to be a bit closer and make it a bit more exciting.

    “Today it was just very tricky, and I never really found that rhythm throughout qualifying where you know you can put a new tyre set on and know where to find lap time.

    “A bit of a shame, but still P3, so back in my seat.”

    Verstappen was initially told to keep going when he reported the loss of power, but dived into the pits at the end of an attempted push lap so the issue could be fixed.

    “I had power, then not, then it kicked in again, then not,” Verstappen explained.

    “They told me keep going but I said guys, I’m losing quite a bit of lap time here on the straight.

    “At one point I aborted because it didn’t make sense to continue. We’ll have a more detailed look what exactly went wrong. It’s not so lovely, but luckily we’re still here.”

    Verstappen was hopeful that Red Bull’s race pace would give him a chance to challenge Mercedes, but feared it would be difficult to overtake due to the narrow nature of the track at Imola.

    “The long run was alright, so hopefully it will be a bit similar tomorrow,” Verstappen said. “Let’s hope that top-speed wise, we are in a good position tomorrow.

    “I don’t think it’s going to be very easy to pass anyway, but we’ll see what we can do.”

  4. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton blamed himself for missing out on pole position. has the story.

    Lewis Hamilton blamed a ‘piss poor’ effort for losing out on pole position at the Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

    The world championship leader had led the way after the opening runs in Q3 but did not make as big a gain as Bottas on his final effort. He missed out on the top spot by just 0.097 seconds.

    Reflecting on what happened, Hamilton said that he simply failed to hook up things on the final lap, as he praised the effort that Bottas made.

    “Valtteri did a great job and it was a pretty piss poor lap from myself,” said Hamilton. “These things happen, you can’t always get it perfect.”

    While the gap with Bottas is small, Hamilton said he was mindful about the threat that Max Verstappen posed from behind in race, allied to just how difficult it will be to overtake.

    “Yeah, they’re very strong on their race runs,” he said about Red Bull. “So, what is unfortunate really with this track, and it’s so beautiful to drive, is I’m pretty certain you are going to see a pretty boring race tomorrow.

    “You can overtake on this long [start-finish] straight but it’s quite narrow, and you can’t follow. Once you get into Turn 1, it’s a train from there, there’s no single place to overtake anywhere else. So it’s going to be a challenge to the people following.

    “But again, as I said, the DRS hopefully will give some overtaking opportunities into Turn 1 for people.

    “For us, you see we’re within half a tenth of each other. But to have an opportunity of overtaking, I think the gain has to be something like two seconds of speed or something to the car ahead to have a chance.

    “Nonetheless, I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got tomorrow and fingers crossed.”

    With F1 returning to Imola for the first time since 2006, Hamilton said the track had been hugely thrilling to drive on.

    “They don’t build tracks like this any more,” he said. “I don’t know why the new guys can’t build a track like this. I mean it’s just a classic: it’s got the history which helps.”

  5. After finishing in P4 for the sole Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend practice session, Pierre Gasly declared that his target was to try and maintain that position for qualifying. And the Frenchman duly delivered, taking fourth on the grid at Imola to equal his best ever qualifying in F1.

    Gasly looked strong throughout qualifying, finishing in the top five in the first two segments, before eventually pipping the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo to P4 in Q3 – with Gasly only around three-tenths adrift of Max Verstappen, and two places up on the second Red Bull of Alex Albon, as the Frenchman matched his best qualifying from the 2019 German Grand Prix.

    And Gasly was quick to dedicate his fine performance to his childhood hero Ayrton Senna, who lost his life at the track in 1994, and whose helmet colours Gasly is sporting this weekend.

    “For me it’s a great day,” said Gasly, “I did my best qualifying for the team, P4 I think was also my best in Red Bull, so it’s my best ever in Formula 1, and to do it in Imola, is also very special.

    “Obviously for me, I did this special helmet for Ayrton because I’ve always been a big, big fan of Senna since I was a kid. He was one of my idols, and it was important for me to do it here, but also for all the team, because they are only 15 kilometres from this track. So it’s a great start to the weekend.”

    Asked about his prosects for Sunday’s race, meanwhile, Gasly singled out Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in P7 and Ricciardo in P5 as his key rivals, saying: “It’s so tight in the midfield – I think from P4 to P10 is like three, four-tenths, so it will be important to keep to position at the start.

    “I expect a tough battle with Daniel with Charles and all the other guys. But I think we are in a good position; P4 is probably the best position we can start from so we need to keep it and try to get as many points as we can.”

    Gasly’s team mate Daniil Kvyat, meanwhile, completed a storming day for AlphaTauri by taking P8 on the grid, as the Russian marked his first Q3 appearance in 2020. And Gasly said that a filming day undertaken by AlphaTauri at the track in June – during which both he and Kvyat drove their current AT01 car, as well as an older Toro Rosso STR13 – may have helped AlphaTauri start on the front foot this weekend.

    “I think for sure it helped us in the way just to have a feel with the track,” said Gasly. “This is a very difficult track. You need to run over the kerbs a lot, but you need to really get the feeling with the car to extract everything.

    “Obviously it was not a car that was set up for performance [on the filming day], so we were a lot slower than that, and it was only 15 laps. But we take everything we can and I think, for sure, it was a good decision to come here to do the shakedown.”


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