Hamilton scores his 99th career pole position in Formula 1

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his 99th career pole position in Formula 1, beating the Red Bull Racing pair of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen. The top three drivers was just covered by 0.087 seconds.

Hamilton held on to take pole by not improving on his final flying lap, with his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas qualifying down in eighth, on spot ahead of Lando Norris, who lost a time that would have put him third due to a track limits violation.

Both Mercedes cars and Verstappen will start the race on the advantageous medium tyres after successfully getting through on the yellow-walled rubber, which offers significantly better durability compared to the softs.

Hamilton led the way after the first runs in Q3 with a one minute, 14.411 seconds, but could not recover time lost in the first sector on his second effort.

This meant he did not improve the pole benchmark, despite setting the fastest time in the final sector, but as his rivals did not improve by enough he held on to claim his first pole of the 2021 season.

Perez outqualified Verstappen in his second event for Red Bull, ending up just under 0.1 seconds adrift of Hamilton’s fastest time. But the Mexican driver had to use the softs to get through Q2 and faces a tougher opening stint if the race starts in dry conditions tomorrow.

Verstappen was arguably the favourite for pole after topping FP3 following his disrupted Friday running and although he set a personal best on his final Q3 lap – including the fastest time in the middle sector – he wound up 0.087 seconds adrift.

Charles Leclerc put his Ferrari fourth ahead of Pierre Gasly and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, with that trio starting ahead of Norris who looked to have secured a shock top three result.

But Norris’s one minute, 14.454 seconds was deleted as he was judged to have gone too wide exiting the Piratella turn in the middle sector and so his final time ended up as his first Q3 run.

That was still enough to keep him ahead of Bottas, whose personal best final Q3 effort left him well adrift of the typical Mercedes’ placings.

Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten.

In Q2, Carlos Sainz’s first race in Italy as a Scuderia Ferrari driver will start from outside the top ten as he was eliminated at the very end of Q2, finishing in P11 despite setting a personal best on his final lap.

Sainz failing to find enough time meant Stroll squeaked into Q3 for Aston Martin, the green cars running ahead of the rest of the pack as the middle segment of the session drew to a close.

George Russell finished P12, which shuffled Sebastian Vettel back to P13 and ensured Russell maintained his perfect qualifying record against Williams teammates continued – as Nicholas Latifi qualified P14 after impressing in Q1.

Fernando Alonso was another driver to set a personal best time right at the end of Q2, but that was not enough to elevate him from P15 in the final standings.

In Q1, Russell’s final lap improvement to ensure both Williams cars made it through the Q2 for this first time since last year’s Hungarian GP knocked out Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen – who also set a personal best on his final effort, but could not find enough time to make it through to the second part of qualifying.

Behind Raikkonen came his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi, with the Haas duo saved from bringing up the rear of the field by Tsunoda’s absence from proceedings by the end of the session.

Tsunoda’s Q1 was over after just a few minutes when he crashed heavily at the Variante Alta on his first flying lap.

The Japanese driver lost the rear of his AlphaTauri between the two apexes of the chicane, with the car swinging around rapidly and going backwards into the barriers.

With the rear wing and both rear wheels smashed, and debris littering the run-off area, the session was quickly red flagged, followed by a near ten minute delay as the incident was cleared up.

So an exciting qualifying session with the Bahrain Grand Prix winner coming out on top with pole position. Sergio Perez recovered from his crash with Esteban Ocon in practice to claim second and for the first time, out qualifies his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen. As for Lando Norris, it would have been incredible with this fantastic qualifying performance but track limits…

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, qualifying results:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:14.411
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1:14.446
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:14.498
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:14.740
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:14.790
6 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:14.826
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1:14.875
8 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:14.898
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:15.210
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes No time
11 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:15.199
12 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:15.261
13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:15.394
14 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:15.593
15 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:15.593
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:15.974
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:16.122
18 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1:16.279
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:16.797
20 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda No time

5 thoughts to “Hamilton scores his 99th career pole position in Formula 1”

  1. Qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton got the job done when it mattered in a scintillating Emilia Romagna Grand Prix qualifying session, beating Red Bull’s Sergio Perez by just 0.036s at Imola, with Max Verstappen inside a tenth of a second of pole in third.

    There was nothing to choose between Mercedes and Red Bull heading into the second qualifying session of the 2021 campaign, with both teams saying the other were favourites for P1 and playing down their own chances.

    It was initially Valtteri Bottas who looked the most comfortable out on a track where he dominated all three segments of the one-hour shoot-out last time out at Imola, but he didn’t deliver in Q3 as his world champion team mate rose to the top of the pile with a brilliant first lap in qualifying.

    The seven-time world champion failed to improve on his second run, and that pole looked under threat as Lando Norris set a purple first sector and then a purple second to have at least a front row in his grasp. But he lost time in the final sector and though he went second, his time was deleted for exceeding track limits.

    That allowed Sergio Perez, who was getting quicker and quicker as the session went on, to slot into a brilliant second, securing his first-ever front row starts in his 193rd Grand Prix start. His Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen slotted into third, outqualified by a team mate (without any penalties/red flag) for the first time since Daniel Ricciardo left the team at the end of 2018.

    Ferrari, who brought a new floor to Imola a race earlier than planned, have shown impressive one-lap pace all weekend, with Charles Leclerc delivering on that potential with an impressive fourth, beating AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly to the position for the second successive race.

    Daniel Ricciardo looked to be struggling through practice, and looked the slower of the two McLarens throughout qualifying, but ended up higher on the grid with sixth, with Norris’s second-best lap only good enough for seventh.

    Last year’s pole-sitter Bottas was a disappointing eighth, ending up outside the top-seven for the second time in the last six races, with Esteban Ocon the leading Alpine in ninth – having got knocked out in Q1 in Bahrain – and Lance Stroll closing out the top 10 for Aston Martin.

    Q1 – Tsunoda crashes as Williams get both cars into Q2

    AlphaTauri looked in fine shape early in the Emilia Romagna weekend, but their team boss Franz Tost was left with his head in his hands on the pit wall when rookie Yuki Tsunoda got it all wrong at the Variante Alta and clattered into the barrier, bringing out the red flag.

    The Japanese driver escaped unharmed, but there was significant damage to the rear of his AT02, and it means he’ll start either last or from the pit lane on Sunday afternoon. His team mate Pierre Gasly put the pressure on himself when he had his first lap time deleted for exceeding track limits, once the session got back under way, but then eased through to Q2 with his next lap.

    Mercedes were the class of the field, with Bottas – who was fastest in Q1 and Q2 before taking pole at Imola last year – was the quickest of the two, with Lando Norris a very impressive third ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Elsewhere, Williams got both cars into Q2 for the first time since last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix, with Nicholas Latifi bouncing back from his crash in Saturday morning practice to ease through with George Russell sneaking in, too.

    There was bad news for Alfa Romeo, with both cars getting the boot early doors. Antonio Giovinazzi was furious with traffic as he failed to improve on his final run and he’ll start 17th, behind team mate Kimi Raikkonen but ahead of the Haas duo of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

    Knocked out: Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Schumacher, Mazepin, Tsunoda

    Q2 – Perez and Norris set sizzling pace as Sainz and Alonso struggle

    The Mercedes pair and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen were so assured of their pace, they were the only ones to run the mediums in Q2 in a bid to start the race on that compound, which meant they didn’t challenge the top of the timesheets.

    Instead it was Norris who impressed once again, after a strong Q1 outing, initially going quickest before being usurped by Perez – also on softs – by just 0.002s.

    Ferrari looked quick on one-lap pace, with Charles Leclerc going third quickest, and his team mate Carlos Sainz was set to join him, only to attack the kerb too aggressively at the chicane, which cost him heavily and meant he didn’t progress, ending the session 11th.

    George Russell was a very impressive 12th, just a tenth off Q3, with Sebastian Vettel having another tough session, first having his time deleted for exceeding track limits, then failing to get it together when it mattered on his next run to extend his run of missing Q3 to 15 Grands Prix.

    Latifi was three tenths adrift of Russell in a career-best 14th, with Fernando Alonso outqualified by a team mate for the first time since the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix, ending a run of 27 consecutive races.

    Knocked out: Sainz, Russell, Vettel, Latifi, Alonso

    Q3 – Heartbreak for Norris as Hamilton delivers once again

    Hamilton set an impressive benchmark with his opening salvo in Q3, with Verstappen and Perez slotting in just behind, and Norris confirming McLaren’s strong potential with a fourth.

    The Briton failed to improve next time around, opening the door for an attack from elsewhere. Perez was flying – and it looked too close to call only for the Mexican to slot into second and his team mate Verstappen also just falling short.

    There were celebrations in the McLaren garage when Norris crossed the line for second, only for his time to then get deleted for a track limits infringement, dropping him well down the field to seventh.

    It was the closest qualifying session in years, with the top eight all managing 1m14s times and separated by just half a second, with seven different manufacturers featuring in the top 10.

  2. Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez admitted that a last-corner mistake cost him the opportunity to grab Imola Formula 1 pole position. Motorsport.com has the full details.

    Sergio Perez was left ruing a final-corner mistake during Formula 1 qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, saying he “should have been on pole”.

    Perez bounced back from a difficult Friday that saw him crash into Esteban Ocon in FP1 and struggle to feature with the frontrunners in FP2 by qualifying second at Imola.

    It marked Perez’s best-ever F1 qualifying result, beating his previous best starting position of third, as he fell just 0.035 seconds shy of pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton’s lap time.

    But Perez believed he did have the pace to snatch pole position away for Red Bull in the dying moments of qualifying after Hamilton failed to improve on his final lap.

    “I should have been on pole today,” Perez said.

    “I did a mistake on my final corner, so I think it’s everything positive.

    “We just have to make sure that we keep progressing, and tomorrow is what matters.”

    Perez was satisfied with how he managed to recover from the incident on Friday with Ocon, and admitted he was surprised by the turnaround over the weekend.

    “I have to say well done to the team,” Perez said. “Yesterday I made a mistake and I made them work hard during the day, so it’s a good recovery.

    “But the most important is always showing progress. I never expected to be here today where we were yesterday. We’ve been improving, but it’s just important to be P2.”

    Perez will start Sunday’s race on the soft compound tyre, giving him a theoretical pace advantage over Hamilton and teammate Max Verstappen, who starts third, in the opening stint.

    “I think anything can happen tomorrow,” Perez said. “We are on a different strategy to Lewis and Max. And so, it’s gonna be interesting to see what we can do.

    “Most important [is to] get those points, get battling, which is priority at the moment.”

    Verstappen was just 0.087 seconds shy of Hamilton’s benchmark, but was also left ruing a scrappy final lap in Q3 that cost him a possible front-row spot, calling it “not so good”.

    “In Q3 I went off at Turn 3, so a bit messy, just not a great lap, but it can’t be good every time,” Verstappen said.

    “We’ll see what went wrong, but it was definitely not the easiest thing. But still P3, which is a good starting position.

    “It’s going to be interesting because we have the two cars on different tyres so let’s see how that will work out.

    “We’ll try to make it difficult for [Mercedes].”

  3. AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda crashed out in Q1 and got “too excited” before qualifying. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Yuki Tsunoda has apologised to the AlphaTauri Formula 1 team following his crash in qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, saying he got “too excited”.

    Following his impressive showing on debut in Bahrain three weeks ago, Tsunoda arrived at Imola hopeful of challenging for a second haul of points and a maiden Q3 appearance.

    But the Japanese driver lost the rear of his AT02 car at the exit of the Variante Alta chicane, causing him to spin backwards into the wall.

    It left his car with significant damage and brought out a red flag, as well as resigning Tsunoda to last place on the grid for tomorrow’s race without setting a time in qualifying.

    “I was just pushing too much at entry, to be honest,” Tsunoda explained. “Until then the lap felt great, actually. I think that potentially it was easy to go through Q1 with one tyre.

    “I was just too excited. For me, that was a silly mistake, so I feel really sorry for the team. You have to reset today, and just drive the race tomorrow.”

    Tsunoda was able to walk away from the accident despite taking a sizeable hit, and said he didn’t feel in any pain, but was “more worried about the car than me.”

    “It looked pretty bad actually, what I saw at the back [of the car],” Tsunoda said. “I really hope the car is repaired properly tomorrow. Just feel sorry for the team today.”

    Tsunoda caught attention in Bahrain with a number of aggressive overtakes, including passes on Fernando Alonso and a last-lap lunge on Lance Stroll to grab ninth place.

    Although overtaking is likely to be more difficult around the tight Imola layout, Tsunoda was upbeat about his chances of fighting back up the order during the race, believing that rain could be due to shake things up.

    “Tomorrow is going to be maybe different conditions, rain, to try to help me a bit,” Tsunoda said.

    “So just really put it altogether and don’t do mistakes like today. I think it will be a bit of a different view.

    “It’s going to be different conditions, so I just have to adapt to the conditions tomorrow, and push until the end.”

  4. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton never expected to beat Red Bulls in Imola qualifying. The world champion qualified on pole ahead of Perez and Verstappen. Motorsport.com has the full details.

    Lewis Hamilton said he never expected to outqualify both Red Bulls at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, as he grabbed his first Formula 1 pole position of the season.

    With Red Bull having had the pace advantage in Bahrain, and topping final free practice at Imola, Hamilton was bracing himself for losing out to either Max Verstappen or Sergio Perez.

    However, a great performance from the world champion, allied to mistakes from both Red Bull drivers on their final Q3 laps, meant Hamilton took the top spot on Saturday.

    Hamilton ended up just 0.035 seconds ahead of Perez, and 0.087 seconds clear of Verstappen.

    Speaking after the session, Hamilton said that there were times this weekend where Mercedes felt that Red Bull had an advantage that was more than half a second per lap.

    “I definitely didn’t expect us to be ahead of two Red Bulls,” said Hamilton. “They have been so quick this weekend. There were times where they were six tenths ahead, and we didn’t really know where we would be.

    “But the car was already feeling a lot better from the beginning this weekend. So I have a huge amount of respect to the team for the hard work to really narrow down the window.”

    With Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas only qualifying in eighth place, it means that the world champion will face a two-pronged attacked from Red Bull at the start of the race tomorrow.

    Asked about battling his rivals alone, he said: “I love it. I love the challenge. I think it’s great finally we’ve got the two Red Bulls there.

    “I think it’s going to definitely make strategy harder and it’s going be a real challenge tomorrow because they have got great race pace. I think their pace was strongest on the long run yesterday.

    “But I’m just so happy because the first lap was really, really nice, really clean. And there were some improvements on the second lap but it wasn’t quite as good as the first one.”

  5. Lando Norris admits he “effed it all up” in Imola qualifying after exceeding track limits. Motorsport.com provides the story.

    McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris said he is “annoyed with myself” after losing third on the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix grid due to exceeding track limits, admitting he “effed it all up”.

    Norris had already been rapid with a third-fastest time in Q1 and second place in Q2 and looked set to record his best ever qualifying result in a tightly contested Q3 shootout.

    The Briton set a time which would have been good for third on the grid, behind polesitter Lewis Hamilton while splitting the Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, but saw his fastest laptime deleted due exceeding the track limits at Imola’s Turn 9.

    Instead, Norris ended up seventh on the grid, behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo, courtesy of his second-best laptime which was four tenths off the frontrunners. Even though his track limits violation appeared extremely marginal Norris took the full blame for losing his best time, admitting he “effed it all up”.

    “Yeah, pretty disappointed, pretty annoyed with myself,” Norris told Sky Sports F1. “I think it was a very good day until then, the team did an awesome job. You know, the car really came alive in qualifying.

    “We made a lot of improvements on Friday, but that one lap that I don’t need to make a mistake on I effed it all up. It’s the same for everyone, so at the end of the day it’s my mistake.”

    Despite being relegated from third to seventh on the grid, Norris said he was happy with the rapid pace McLaren showed at Imola despite a slow start to the weekend in Friday practice.

    “Yeah, I’m really happy,” Norris replied when asked about his McLaren’s potential. “Not with my job I’ve done but with the team.

    “I think we didn’t start the weekend off well at all. We really struggled in the beginning, but we made a lot of improvements. And I think we kind of understood a little bit more how the car works and how it comes alive, and a better operating window.

    “That’s one of the things we had to learn from Bahrain, where we struggled. We changed it this weekend and we’ve done a better job, just I didn’t.”

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