Verstappen defeats McLarens for record-tying Imola F1 pole

Verstappen defeats McLarens for record-tying Imola F1 pole

Max Verstappen and Red Bull recovered from a troubling start to the Formula 1 weekend to overtake both McLaren drivers on pole in a close qualifying session.

It means the Dutchman has equaled the late Ayrton Senna's record of most consecutive Formula 1 pole positions at eight – with a chance of breaking it next time out in Monaco.

After his struggles on Friday at Imola with a mismatched RB20, intense all-night work and advance adjustments have paid dividends for Red Bull, at least from Verstappen's side in the garage.

But even with a happier balance, Ferrari and McLaren looked to be a real threat to pole throughout qualifying.

Verstappen topped Q3 after the opening sessions with a time of one minute and 14.869 seconds, which is only 0.073 seconds faster than Miami Grand Prix winner Lando Norris, and 0.147 seconds faster than Ferrari leader Charles Leclerc.

With his final flight, he pushed the bar out of reach of his rivals, achieving a time of 1:14.746 seconds.

That was 0.074 seconds faster than Oscar Piastri – who had just edged out his McLaren teammate Norris for a place on the front row by just 0.017 seconds.

Piastri would have taken provisional pole had he contested Norris in the final sector – but his place on the front row is in jeopardy even though he faces a post-session investigation for allegedly obstructing Kevin Magnussen in the first sector of the race.

Ferrari's challenge from pole fell severely in the final round with Leclerc finishing more than two tenths behind in fourth, Carlos Sainz nearly half a second behind Verstappen.

Russell is better than the rest

George Russell was best of the rest behind Verstappen-McLaren-Ferrari, even being just 0.001 seconds away from snatching fifth place on the grid from Sainz.

RB's Yuki Tsunoda finished seventh, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and two-tenths ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo – who had been well behind Tsunoda for most of qualifying.

Sauber-bound Nico Hulkenberg has pulled the Haas team back into Q3 and completed the top ten.

Perez is out in Q2

The reason behind the big names in Q2 was the Red Bull of Sergio Perez – who crashed his Red Bull at the end of FP3. Perez was 0.015 seconds slower than 10th-placed Ricciardo in that second part.

“What a mess” was the immediate verdict from Perez to his race engineer.

Esteban Ocon had his best qualifier of 2024 by finishing 12th on the grid while his Alpine teammate Pierre Gasly had a frustrating day.

Having already been annoyed with his team in FP3 for not finding a clear path for him (“Why! We're always in the same position”), he spent a moment in Rivazza 1 on the final qualifying lap while being distracted by Sainz's Ferrari: “I made a mistake.” Braking point.

This left him in 15th place, with Lance Stroll's Aston Martin and Alex Albon's Williams sharing 13th and 14th places respectively.

Alonso's nightmare day

Fernando Alonso suffered his worst day of the 2024 season so far, starting with a crash in final practice at the final turn.

This left Aston Martin with a long repair job ahead of qualifying, and when Alonso crashed out of qualifying things quickly went awry again.

He lost control of the upgraded Aston through the Variante Tamburello Chicane, touched the grass at Turn 4 and ran the AMR24 wide of the road.

This likely damaged his Aston's floor mat, meaning he quickly abandoned his final run (for the time being due to an “unknown issue” according to Alonso), and was forced to accept his fate as the slowest driver in qualifying at Imola.

He was only saved from starting the final Emilia Romagna GP because under-pressure Williams driver Logan Sargeant had all of his competitive qualifying laps deleted for track limits, the first of which was due to an off-track moment in the Variante Villeneuve.

His final lap lap was 0.23 seconds behind Albon.

Sargent admitted “it's been just a grind this weekend” and even more difficult when he didn't have the lighter, upgraded floor mat found in Albon's car.

The Sauber team was also eliminated from Q1, with Valtteri Bottas ahead of teammate Zhu Guanyu by 0.208 seconds in 16th and 17th places respectively.

Magnussen (18th fastest) was more than a second slower than teammate Hulkenberg (third fastest) in Q1, albeit in large part due to Piastri finding his way ahead of Tamburello on the crucial final lap on a fast-developing track. .


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