Emilia Romagna GP: Max Verstappen shrugs off practice woes to grab pole position at Imola

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen smiling

Max Verstappen won't be making a switch away from Formula 1, so football fans can stand down.

Max Verstappen rebounded from his practice troubles to destroy Ferrari and McLaren’s dreams by taking pole position at Imola, the Dutchman P1 by a tenth of a second.

Miami GP winner Lando Norris will join him on the front row of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix grid with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz making up the second row.

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While the majority of the field ventured out on the soft tyres in Q1, Ferrari went for the mediums such was their confidence in the upgraded SF-24. It was, however, Lando Norris who sat P1 ahead of Oscar Piastri after the initial run.

Alex Albon kicked up dirt out of Rivazza while Fernando Alonso, on track after Aston Martin repaired his AMR24 following his FP3 crash, also had a big moment in the gravel.

Nico Hulkenberg put in a late effort to jump from 20th to first before the Haas driver was pipped by Max Verstappen with a 1:15.7. Out went Valtteri Bottas, Logan Sargeant, Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen and Alonso.

The stewards meanwhile announced that Piastri would be investigated after qualifying for impeding Magnussen at Turn 2.

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Lewis Hamilton, out on used tyres, was the sole taker as Q2 got underway with the Mercedes driver asking Mercedes, “Where’s everyone?”

He laid down a 1:16.1 that was destroyed by Verstappen before Charles Leclerc went to the top of the timesheet by 0.03s ahead of Yuki Tsunoda.

As he did in Q1, Verstappen put in a late final lap to top the session while his team-mate Sergio Perez fell short, the Mexican driver not able to find the lap time needed to progress. He finished qualifying P11, missing out by 0.015s.

Max Verstappen claims pole position at Imola

With the track temperature down five degrees, Verstappen went purple and laid down an opening gambit of 1:14.8. Norris was provisionally second, 0.073s down, with Leclerc third. Mercedes ran used tyres for their first run with George Russell sixth and Hamilton P8.

Carlos Sainz was the first Ferrari driver to cross the line but couldn’t improve while Leclerc did but stayed third. Verstappen then put an end to any challenge from his rivals as he went quicker still with a 1:14.746.

Piastri jumped up to second place to push his McLaren team-mate off the front row, though received a three-place grip drop post-qualifying for impeding Magnussen, promoting Norris to P2.

Leclerc and Sainz form an all-Ferrari row two, ahead of Piastri and Russell.

Times

1 Max VERSTAPPEN 1:14.746
2 Oscar PIASTRI +0.074
3 Lando NORRIS +0.091
4 Charles LECLERC +0.224
5 Carlos SAINZ +0.487
6 George RUSSELL +0.488
7 Yuki TSUNODA +0.719
8 Lewis HAMILTON +0.758
9 Daniel RICCIARDO +0.928
10 Nico HULKENBERG +1.234
11 Sergio PEREZ 1:15.706
12 Esteban OCON 1:15.906
13 Lance STROLL 1:15.992
14 Alexander ALBON 1:16.200
15 Pierre GASLY 1:16.381
16 Valtteri BOTTAS 1:16.626
17 Guanyu ZHOU 1:16.834
18 Kevin MAGNUSSEN 1:16.854
19 Fernando ALONSO 1:16.917
20 Logan SARGEANT

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