Valtteri Bottas has beaten teammate Lewis Hamilton by nine-hundredths of a second to secure pole position for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after improving on his final run in the qualifying. The Finn appeared behind Hamilton in practice but managed to get a great final lap in to pip the Englishman.
Mercedes were expected to be the team to beat in qualifying, and again managed to pull out half a second over Red Bulls Max Verstappen. Mercedes can wrap up the constructors this weekend, once again they were unstoppable and were miles ahead.
Hamilton held the advantage until the final runs in Q3 setting his fastest time on the soft tyre, but on his las lap dipped into the gravel exiting Rivazza while on his final run losing the tenth, he had gained earlier in the lap.
Verstappen couldn’t respond as Mercedes continued to up the pace, but he out-qualified the sister team Alpha Tauri and Pierre Gasly. Imola looked to be a circuit where Gasly could be in the mix, showing the steps the team had made this season.
Bottas said “I really enjoyed it, this track,” Bottas said. “When you push flat out, it’s beautiful. I knew I had to push in the last lap and it’s a great feeling when you get those.”
Hamilton said: “Valtteri did a great job and it was a poor lap from myself. These things happen. You can’t get it right all the time. What a beautiful place we’re in here in Italy and the speeds we’re going around this track are unbelievable
Hamilton described that final lap in Q3 as “a pretty poor lap from myself. These things happen you can’t always get it perfect.”
Verstappen was in danger of being knocked out in Q1, an engine issue meaning he only managed a single run to get through to the final part of qualifying. But it appeared not to happier his session, allowing him to out-qualify by just over a tenth.
Alex Albon was told he needed to start matching Verstappen to retain his seat at Red Bull, but it was difficult for the British-Thai driver who was one of several drivers to have his time deleted for track limits.
Gasly’s fourth place will further pile on the pressure on Albon, whose future will be decided between Imola and Istanbul in two weeks.
Charles Leclerc was the highest Ferrari powered car, going seventh but was still over a second behind Mercedes. Leclerc continuing his strong form and again was eight tenths ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel who was only fourteenth.
The second Alpha Tauri of Daniil Kvyat making it through to Q3, for the first time this season the Russian made it through to the final part of qualifying and out-qualified both the McLaren’s. Lando Norris almost a tenth ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz. McLaren appearing to be one of the biggest losers in just having just the single session of practice.
For the first time this season neither Racing Point made it through to Q3, Sergio Perez missed out when Albon improved. Perez missing out by a hundredth of a second while teammate Lance Stroll lost his fastest time for exceeding track limits at Variante Alta on his fastest lap, that left him fifteenth.
Esteban Ocon was twelfth fastest going ahead of George Russell, the Williams driver had gone eleventh before being shuffled back. Vettel’s difficult season continued, he was another driver who exceeding track limits at Variante Alta as he tried to get through Q2 on mediums.
The two Haas’s were knocked out in Q1, Romain Grosjean going sixteenth fastest missing out on Q2 by nearly a tenth, ahead of Kevin Magnussen. The Dane was one of the drivers to make an error going through the gravel at the second Rivazzi.
Kimi Raikkonen was another driver to have his lap deleted, the Finn believed that he remained within the limits exiting Variante Alta, the deleted time would have been enough to see him through to Q2.
Nicolas Latifi spilt the two Alfa Romeo’s going nineteen, Antonio Giovinazzi was twentieth. The Italian’s personal best on his final lap not proving enough to get off the back of the grid.