Emilia Romagna GP: Hamilton secures pole ahead of Perez

Lewis Hamilton secured pole position for the Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, just ahead of the Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

Hamilton’s best effort of 1m14.411s was enough to secure his 99th F1 career pole position, but it was Perez who impressed, claiming his first ever front row start.

Yuki Tsunoda’s qualifying session was over before it had begun as a lock-up followed by a series of mistakes introduced the rookie to his first encounter with an F1 track wall. It meant the red flag was brought out and with Tsunoda knocked out in Q1, it was left to Pierre Gasly to deliver for AlphaTauri.

Not only did Gasly face the pressure of being the only AlphaTauri left out on track, but he fell victim to the FIA’s hard policing by exceeding track limits resulting in a deleted track time. Despite the weight on his shoulders, Gasly pulled through when he needed to and took a seat in Q2.

Gasly was not alone with a deleted track time in Q1 as Perez and Mick Schumacher also struggled to keep all four tyres within track limits.

Perez managed to join Gasly in Q2 but unfortunately for Schumacher, he will be starting the second race of his Formula 1 career at the back of the grid.

Schumacher was joined in the elimination zone of Q1 by; Kimi Raikkonen, Nikita Mazepin, Antonio Giovinazzi and of course Tsunoda.

Moving into Q2, Bottas was sitting at the top of the rankings but after a very impressive lap of 1m 14.716s on soft tyres, Perez finished Q2 in first position.

The classic track of Emilia Romagna was eating up the drivers lap times as Sebastian Vettel joined the deleted time tribe which cost him a spot in Q3. Joining Vettel in the elimination zone was his old acquaintance, Fernando Alonso, who was out qualified by a teammate for the first time since 2017.

A disappointing blow for Carlos Sainz as he took 11th place on the grid as opposed to making the top ten last year at this track with McLaren. Other drivers doing the Q2 walk of shame with Sainz, Vettel and Alonso were George Russel, and Nicholas Latifi.

What a journey Q3 was.

Lando Norris produced two purple sectors for the Mclaren placing him on the front row of the grid until his Lap time was deleted – an absolutely devastating turn of events for the Brit. With Norris being bumped down to seventh position, Perez both out-qualified his teammate Verstappen and took his first ever front row start in second place.

Despite not improving on his first flying lap of Q3, Hamilton managed to hold on to the top spot for tomorrow’s race. Sadly, after an exceptional weekend, Bottas falls in the shadow of the other Mercedes as he starts the season’s second race in eighth position.

So the top ten are as follows; Hamilton in first, Perez second, Verstappen in third, Leclerc in fourth, Gasly fifth, and Ricciardo, Norris, Bottas, Occon and Stroll filling positions six, seven, eight, nine and ten.

For the first time in a while, two Red Bull cars are in the top 10 ready to chase down the two Mercedes. But with the pace that the McLaren of Norris was producing, tomorrow’s race could be anyone’s game.