Appearing in their first race at Imola, Mercedes showed no signs of slouching. Valtteri Bottas comfortably clinched yet another pole position in a Mercedes front-row lockout.
Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen followed him in P2 and P3, respectively. Pierre Gasly claimed P4 in a superb effort, with Daniel Ricciardo settling for P5 to round off the Top 5.
It was majorly a very predictable qualifying, despite the weekend being a solo practice session affair. This just goes to show how the simulator aids drivers and brings them closer to a real-life track experience.
The first phase of qualifying kicked off with AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat on soft tires putting in a stellar lap of close to the 1:15:400 mark. Eventually, the others followed, and at the end of Q1, the usual suspects like Haas and Alfa Romeo got knocked out.
George Russell of Williams, however, got through to Q2. By doing so, continued his strong qualifying form on Saturday. Russell has now out-qualified his teammate Latifi almost every time this season and represents the team’s best hopes for points.
As the remaining cars went into Q2, Verstappen suffered a power problem and had to box in. Thanks to the Red Bull and Honda mechanics, they were able to put him back in the qualifying game.
It was a shock for Racing Point as both their drivers, Perez and Stroll, got eliminated. The star performer of Q2 was undoubtedly Albon, who put in a flying lap to finish above his teammate.
Flying high at Imola, momentum was certainly on Bottas’ side. The Finn driver swiveled through the corners and managed the tricky chicanes to give his team the pole position.
Lewis Hamilton was slightly off the pace, finishing 0.09 seconds behind his teammate. Max Verstappen gave it his best efforts and was eventually good enough for P3, with teammate Alex Albon relatively better this time around.
McLaren were among the happier ones, as they got both their drivers into the Top 10. Pierre Gasly also showed his might, challenging the big boys up front, and will start P4 in the race tomorrow.
On the whole, it was an eventful qualifying session, considering the lack of practice. It now remains to be seen if Sunday will indeed be the day when Mercedes claim their seventh Constructors’ championship.