Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (EVS to win sprint) will start on pole for Saturday’s sprint race at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after topping the timesheets during Friday’s disrupted qualifying session.
The reigning world champion posted a time of 1:27.999 to finish 0.8 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (11/8 to win sprint) and secure his first pole of the season.
It was an incident-packed qualifying session in what were wet conditions in Imola, with a total of five red flags being shown, the last of which for McLaren’s Lando Norris during the dying embers of Q3 brought the day’s action to a premature end.
Verstappen (5/4 Race Winner) is not guaranteed to start Sunday’s race on pole despite topping the timesheets in qualifying, as that has only secured him a place on the front of the grid for the first sprint race of the season on Saturday.
The Dutchman, who has failed to finish in two of the three races so far this season, was certainly pleased to come through the testing conditions unscathed and he is hopeful that has set both he and Red Bull up for a positive weekend.
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“It was tricky out there with the dry/rain. It was very slippery. It was hectic, a long qualifying but of course in the end happy to be here,” Verstappen told reporters.
“It is an amazing track and it really punishes you if you make a mistake.
“I am really pleased with pole. It will be different weather at the weekend but a good start.
“Our first three races in general didn’t go to plan but we will try to have a good weekend here.”
Norris came in third quickest despite his late setback, while Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who also crashed out during Q3, will start the sprint race fourth on the grid.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, the second McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin and Carlos Sainz of Ferrari completed the top 10.
Sainz did not get a chance to compete in Q3 after crashing out following his opening lap of Q2, although that was still enough to secure him 10th on the grid.
It was another bad day at the office for Mercedes, as neither George Russell (50/1 Race Winner) or Lewis Hamilton (50/1) were able to advance from Q2.
Russell will start Saturday’s sprint in 11th, while seven-time world champion Hamilton is down in 13th position.
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