Max Verstappen topped the timing sheets in Qualifying for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, and will be on pole for Saturday’s Sprint race in Imola.
The Sprint will make its first appearance of 2022, in what is the fourth race of the season, and Red Bull driver Verstappen will have the best chance to get the maximum eight points on offer and pole for Sunday’s feature event.
Lewis Hamilton scraped into Q2 and secured 13th, but got no further as Mercedes’ woes in 2022 continued.
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Hamilton’s hopes of edging into Q3 were scuppered by a red flag after Carlos Sainz lost the rear of his Ferrari and hit the barriers.
Sainz had been celebrating a new two-year contract to remain with the Italian team, but suffered the ignominy of another problem in qualifying.
By the time Q2 was restarted, rain had arrived and those outside the top 10 had no chance of improving their times.
With Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell also missing out, it was the first time since Japan in 2012 that there was no Mercedes car in Q3 of qualifying.
The rain then initially relented for the last session, and Austrian-backed Red Bull team set their sights on a 75th pole position since their inception, and they were aided by a touch of good fortune in the closing stages.
Both Charles Leclerc and Verstappen had shown good pace throughout and with just a touch under three minutes remaining, former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas collided with a barrier and forced the red flag to come out. That sent everyone back to the pits.
There, the tyres grew colder and the rain grew stronger. Once the debris was cleared, the field edged out of the pits, with Verstappen leading the way and Leclerc in behind him. At the restart the current world champion was perhaps a touch sluggish at the green light, making sure it was a tough as legally possible for those behind him to warm their tyres and maximise the number of flying laps they might have.
With a dramatic denouement on the cards, McLaren's Lando Norris - who took third - crashed into the hoardings with a late spin, preventing the conclusion of the session with less than a minute left, and with no driver able to set up a flying lap. That left Verstappen and Leclerc set up for a one-two for Saturday's Sprint, which sees eight points up for grabs for the winner, and pole position for Sunday's full race.

QUALIFYING STANDINGS - TOP 10

  • 1. Verstappen (Red Bull)
  • 2. Leclerc (Ferrari)
  • 3. Norris (McLaren)
  • 4. Magnussen (Haas)
  • 5. Alonso (Alpine)
  • 6. Ricciardo (McLaren)
  • 7. Perez (Red Bull)
  • 8. Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
  • 9. Vettel (Aston Martin)
  • 10. Sainz (Ferrari)
  • 11. Russell (Mercedes)
  • 12. Schumacher (Haas)
  • 13. Hamilton (Mercedes)
  • 14. Zhou (Alfa Romeo)
  • 15. Stroll (Aston Martin)
  • 16. Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
  • 17. Gasly (AlphaTauri)
  • 18. Latifi (Williams)
  • 19. Ocon (Alpine)
  • N/A Albon (Williams)
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