TUSCAN GP – Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas by five-hundredths to take pole at Mugello

Testing & Race Reports

Lewis Hamilton has beaten his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by five-hundredths of a second to take pole position for the Tuscan Grand Prix. The six-times champion bounced back after being behind Bottas through most of the weekend but put the lap together to take his ninetieth pole position.

Mercedes went into the weekend expected to be the team to beat, but it had appeared as Bottas had the upper hand in practice. Hamilton again managing to pull it together and beat his teammate when it mattered, that was despite him not being able to improve thanks to yellow flags.

He extends his record of pole positions at different circuits to twenty-eight and should he convert that to a win tomorrow he will set a record of different Grand Prix’s. Hamilton will also have opportunities to break these records again in Portimao, Imola and Sakhir Outer Circuit.

The car looked to be stable for both the Black Arrows with them both more than three tenths ahead of the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon.

Bottas had topped both Q1 and Q2 but was denuded the chance of challenging for pole on his final run after Renault’s Esteban Ocon stopped on track at Poggio Secco, where the Renault driver had dipped a wheel into the gravel and spun off backwards. The Finn then lost it through Biondetti leaving him five hundredths off his teammate.

Verstappen did manage to get his final run in Q3 being ahead of Ocon when the yellow flags came out leaving him three tenths behind Hamilton and four and a half tenths ahead of teammate Alex Albon.

Despite struggling at Monza, Red Bull was stronger on one lap in qualifying. Verstappen has his teammate behind him, with Albon having the best qualifying of his career to start third, the team will hope this allows them to chase after Mercedes.

Hamilton said: “It has been really close this weekend. This is a really challenging circuit and Valtteri was quicker than me all day yesterday and this morning and even in Q1.”

“I have been working really hard in the background to improve on my lines and set-up and I finally got the lap I needed. At the end, I think the wind picked up and I wasn’t able to go any quicker. But I got the job done.”

Bottas believes the Ocon incident cost him, adding, “I still had more and I was waiting for the time to get it right but I didn’t get the opportunity. For sure it’s disappointing.”

Charles Leclerc had a decent qualifying given Ferrari’s lack of pace he was fifth fastest for the team 1,000th Grand Prix, however, the team still remains over a second off the pace. But still good for the team who have failed to get through to Q3 since Barcelona a month ago.

Racing Point struggled slightly with the car appearing not to be performing as strongly as it has done this season with Sergio Perez sixth and Lance Stroll seventh.

Perez still managing to beat his teammate, despite the Canadian having the upgraded aero package. Daniel Ricciardo out-qualified Carlos Sainz for eighth while Renault teammate Ocon didn’t set a time in Q3 before he stopped on track.

Lando Norris missed out on Q3 after teammate Carlos Sainz knocked him out with a late improvement at the end of Q2, he starts eleventh. The first time the Englishman has been knocked out in Q2 in just over a year. Daniil Kvyat had to abandon his run after losing control at Savelli, he ran wide onto the gravel leaving him ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Sebastian Vettel couldn’t match his teammate, the four-times champion fourteenth half a second behind Leclerc. But that improvement for the Scuderia after a torrid Spa and Monza did not extend to Sebastian Vettel, who missed out on Q3 for the fifth consecutive race.

The German did out qualify Haas’s Romain Grosjean by almost four-tenths of a second, following a last-minute improvement in Q1 to get out of the drop zone. Vettel’s improvement knocked Pierre Gasly out, fresh from his maiden win at Monza the Frenchman missed out on Q2 by five-hundredths of a second.

Antonio Giovinazzi also missed out following improvements at the end of Q1, the Alfa Romeo shuffled back down the order following late improvements in the session, he starts seventeenth. Both Williams drivers made it off the back row.

George Russell maintained his 100% qualifying record against Nicholas Latifi despite a major off on this final lap. The Williams driver, who missed much of FP3 to a brake-by-wire issue, slid wide at the exit of Savelli, with both right-side wheels in the gravel and the car bouncing across the grass as he shot back left for Arrabbiata 1.

Russell still managed to go just under nine-hundredths of a second faster than his teammate Nicolas Latifi, the Canadian the only driver knocked out in Q1 who failed to improve on his final run. Kevin Magnussen couldn’t improve enough to get out of twentieth.

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