F1 2021 Emilia Romagna GP Qualifying Report: Hamilton on Pole, but with 2 Red Bulls behind
Red Bull appeared to be the fastest in Bahrain, but that pace advantage has seemingly evaporated in three week.
Sir Lewis Hamilton powered around the tight and narrow Imola circuit in Italy to claim his 99th pole position in Formula 1.
It wasn’t all positive for Mercedes though, as Valtteri Bottas had a poor day and the Red Bull drivers will be directly behind the world champion tomorrow.
The Haas drivers opened Q1 being the only ones out at the start. After a few minutes, most of the drivers left the pits and very quickly the risk of traffic became apparent,as the track map became littered with coloured dots.
Sebastian Vettel had a difficult start to his qualifying. The German went wide in sector 2 on his first run and was forced to abandon his attempt. With 12 minutes to go in the session, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda crashed in Turn 15 at the exit of the chicane, wrecking the backend of his car.
The session was red flagged while the car was removed from the track. Tsunoda quickly confirmed he was okay and walked to the medical car. Only five drivers had completed timed laps before the red flag.
With the red lights still on at the pit exit, both Ferraris and Red Bulls went out to line up for the restart. Perez’s lap was deleted for crossing the track limits in Turn 9.
The same thing befell Pierre Gasly in Turn 15. Valtteri Bottas broke the 1:15 limit on his first try with a 1:14.926. Before the last tries, the Williams and Haas drivers were in danger of elimination, with Tsunoda in P20.
Williams upset the field with both Russell and Latifi making it to Q2, with Latifi on P12, two positions above Russel. Their success resulted in the elimination of both Alfa Romeo drivers. Fernando Alonso scraped by to Q2 a tenth of a second above Räikkönen.
Mercedes, Williams, and Max Verstappen began Q2 with medium tyres. Half of the cars stayed in the pits at the start of the session.
Hamilton was the fastest with a 1:14.817, six hundredths ahead of Verstappen. Interestingly, Checo Perez opened his Q2 with the soft tyre. In the middle of the session, Norris put himself to the top with the soft tyre by one tenth over Hamilton.
Williams made their last effort with the soft compound, but it wasn’t enough to get them into Q3. Russell beat his teammate and got P12, while Latifi is P14.
Fernando Alonso had a difficult Q2, just like Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, as both Spaniards were eliminated from Q2. Sainz just missed out on P11, while Alonso sunk to P15. Sebastian Vettel completes the list of drivers eliminated in Q2 in P13.
McLaren opened the final session as Norris sets 1:14.875 to set a benchmark for others. Hamilton, Perez, and Verstappen beat Norris, but the young Briton held P4 as Bottas had a bad first lap that left him sixth. The drivers behind him did their opening laps on used soft tyres.
The Mercedes drivers got out early on their final tyres, determined to avoid any potential traffic in the final corners. Bottas ahead, Hamilton behind.
Bottas’ first sector was four tenths behind Hamilton’s time, ruining his chances in the pole fight. The Finn wasn’t able to beat Norris’ first time.
In fact, Norris set sectors 1 and 2 blazing in purple and made it up to P2, but his lap time got deleted for track limits.
Perez took P2 from Verstappen, who starts third tomorrow. Bottas slumped to P8 as Leclerc, Gasly and Ricciardo beat him. Hamilton’s time held and he takes his first pole in Imola.