The drivers only had 60 minutes of running to prepare for this qualification! They returned to the track for qualifying on an extremely greasy track.
Max Verstappen took the first pole position of his Formula 1 world championship defence in an incredible Emilia Romagna Grand Prix qualifying session that was red-flagged five times.
Points leader Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari joins the Red Bull on the front row.
Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 01 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:19.295 1:18.793 1:27.999 02 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:18.796 1:19.584 1:28.778 03 Lando Norris McLaren 1:20.168 1:19.294 1:29.131 04 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:20.147 1:19.902 1:29.164 05 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:20.198 1:19.595 1:29.202 06 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:19.980 1:20.031 1:29.742 07 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:19.773 1:19.296 1:29.808 08 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:20.419 1:20.192 1:30.439 09 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:20.364 1:19.957 1:31.062 10 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:19.305 1:18.990 — — —————- ————— ———- ———- ———- 11 George Russell Mercedes 1:20.383 1:20.757 12 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:20.422 1:20.916 13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.470 1:21.138 14 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo 1:19.730 1:21.434 15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:20.242 1:28.119 — —————- ————— ———- ———- ———- 16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:20.474 17 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:20.732 18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:21.971 19 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:22.338 20 Alex Albon Williams —
The session sets the grid for F1’s first sprint race of the 2022 season at Imola, with the result of that then deciding the line-up for Sunday’s main event.
Given the field was going into qualifying – which began on a dry track – with just one wet hour of practice behind it and with more rain looming, the session was always likely to be eventful.
But it proved rather more than that as it produced Mercedes’ worst F1 qualifying since 2012 as both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton departed in Q2, and also featured a crash for Carlos Sainz that leaves him 10th on the grid.
Fresh from agreeing his new Ferrari deal and eager to get his season back on course after his disappointing Melbourne weekend, Sainz was instead left profusely apologising to his team after losing it at Rivazza 2 in Q2.
He was second at the time, three places ahead of Leclerc, but spun into the barriers.
Rain falling straight afterwards meant Sainz’s time held up to get him into Q3, although his car was too badly damaged to participate.
Q3, in which all cars ran on intermediates, was then even messier, with three stoppages.
The first came when Kevin Magnussen spun his Haas at Acque Minerale and appeared to be stuck, only to pull off a superb effort to get out of the gravel and return to the pits.
Valtteri Bottas parking his Alfa Romeo on the run towards Rivazza caused another interruption, and then during the two-minute dash after that – during which the track looked too wet for anyone to improve anyway – Lando Norris crashed at Acque Minerale. With only 38 seconds left on the clock, that was session over.
In between the three stoppages and two trips off the road himself, Verstappen managed to put in a 1m27.999s that earned him pole by nearly eight tenths of a second over Leclerc.
Norris ends up an amazing third on the grid on the basis of the time he set before his accident, with Magnussen an even more remarkable fourth for Haas.
Sergio Perez only managed seventh for Red Bull, which puts him behind an unlikely row three of Fernando Alonso’s Alpine and Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren.
Sebastian Vettel got struggling Aston Martin into Q3 for the first time this year, but only managed ninth between the troubled Bottas and non-runner Sainz.
Mercedes was the most prominent victim of the circumstances created by Sainz’s Q2 crash.
But even without that, it had been struggling – both Russell and Hamilton only just getting out of the Q1 dropzone at the last moment when they squeezed up to 11th and 15th respectively.
The forecast rain arrived during the red flag Sainz caused, meaning the Q2 order was set on the laps set in the opening five minutes. Russell and Hamilton were only 11th and 13th at that point and stayed there.
Alfa Romeo rookie Zhou Guanyu could also feel aggrieved over the Q2 stoppage. He’d been fourth in Q1 but only managed 14th in the brief meaningful part of Q2.
Mick Schumacher (12th for Haas) and Lance Stroll (15th for Aston Martin) were the others exiting at that point.
The first of the session’s red flags had come when Alex Albon’s rear brakes caught fire – a problem also seen on the Williams in testing, though the team believes this one had a different cause – during Q1.
Though he made it back to the pits, his car was shedding debris along the way.
Esteban Ocon didn’t get out for a final run in Q1 with a gearbox problem so his Alpine joins Albon on the back row.
AlphaTauri had an awful qualifying at its home grand prix, Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly out in Q1 from 16th and 17th.
Nicholas Latifi escaped an out-lap spin on the exit of Rivazza but couldn’t do any better than 18th in the only Williams running at the end of Q1.
Imola Qualifying : Verstappen beats Leclerc Imola Qualifying : Verstappen beats Leclerc