F1 | Imola GP | Qualifying | Verstappen pips Piastri and Norris to pole in exhilarating session

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Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and George Russell were on mediums to start qualifying. The Brit did pit at the end of his push lap and did not post a time.

The Alpine of Esteban Ocon logged a 1:16.645 to kick things off, leading Magnussen, Sargeant, Gasly and Hülkenberg.

On the mediums, a 1:16.463 from Charles Leclerc put him top, with Sainz in 5th following a bad run through the first chicane. McLaren’s Lando Norris beat that on softs shortly afterwards by 0.268s.

Alex Albon was on a strong lap but got wide on the exit of the last corner and lost a chunk of time.

Max Verstappen took over at the top with a 1:16.013, but he was beaten by Oscar Piastri as the Australian logged a 1:15.940 to go P1. Norris, Perez and Leclerc completed the top 5 with 9 minutes left.

Logan Sargeant had a big moment at turn 6 as he ended up in the gravel. Moments later, Fernando Alonso had a huge moment in turn 4 and took a trip through the gravel himself. He got on the grass at turn 3 and could not avoid the kitty litter on the other side of the track.

The Spaniard, Hülkenberg, Guanyu, Albon and Sargeant found themselves in the relegation zone with 5 minutes left.

Norris led Piastri, Verstappen, Sainz (mediums), Gasly, Leclerc (mediums), Tsunoda, Perez and Stroll. 0.2896s covered the top 8. Hamilton was only P12.

Albon did his first lap earlier than most as he banged in a 1:16.524 to go P12.

Alonso aborted his final attempt as he got it all wrong through the turns 5 and 6 chicane. He ended up last initially.

Nico Hülkenberg breifly jumped up from last to first. Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc piped him, nonetheless. The Dutchman’s 1:15.762 was 0.061s quicker than the Monegasque driver who was on mediums. Tsunoda and Norris completed the top 5.

On his final attempt, Kevin Magnussen was blocked through the first chicane by Oscar Piastri and could only manage P19. However, Logan Sargeant had his time removed and he dropped to last.

Bottas, Guanyu, Magnussen, Alonso and Sargeant was the order of the drivers knocked out.

It was a difficult session for Lewis Hamilton but he made it through in 15th, 0.022 faster than Bottas.


George Russell pumped in the first time on a 1:16.200. Despite struggling with the rear in the last corner, Hamilton bested his teammate’s lap by 0.003s.

Although he also struggled with the car in the last corner with the wind, Max Verstappen smashed in a 1:15.386 to go fastest by 0.467s over stablemate Perez.

Charles Leclerc took over at the top as a 1:15.328 put him 0.030s clear of Yuki Tsunoda as the Japanese driver continued his stunning weekend. Verstappen and Piastri were also within a tenth of the Ferrari.

Norris, Sainz, Perez, Ricciardo, Hülkenberg and Hamilton completed the top 10 following the first runs.

Russell, Gasly, Ocon, Stroll and Albon were in the bottom five as Williams ran in the gap. The Thai driver improved a chunk but matched Russell’s time to go P12.

Verstappen ended up quickest as a 1:15.176 saw the Dutchman lead Leclerc, Tsunoda, Norris and Piastri.

Improvements for Sainz, Hülkenberg, Russell, Hamilton and Ricciardo saw Sergio Perez get knocked out. Although he did personal bests in sector 2 and 3, he missed out by 0.015s. 0.515s covered the top 10.

Perez, Ocon, Stroll, Albon and Gasly was the full list of drivers knocked out.


NIco Hülkenberg put in a 1:16.308 to kick things off in the final segment of qualifying.

However, a stunning first sector from Max Verstappen saw the Dutchman top after the first runs. A 1:14.869 put him 0.073s ahead of Lando Norris. The Brit was purple in sectors 2 and 3. Leclerc went 3rd, 0.147s slower than the Red Bull.

Piastri, Sainz, Russell, Tsunoda, Hamilton, Hülkenberg completed the runners who did a time in the first part of Q3 as Ricciardo only did one run.

Verstappen lowered his benchmark by 0.123 on his second attempt to ultimately seal pole. The McLarens got close as a 1:14.820 and 1:14.837 from Piastri and Norris saw them get within a tenth of pole. The Aussie was purple in S2, with Norris quickest in the final sector.

Charles Leclerc was P4, 0.224s away from pole. Sainz and Russell were also within half a second of pole as they completed the top 6.

Tsunoda, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Hülkenberg completed the top 10 following a thrilling qualifying.

The 26-year-old has made it seven Grand Prix poles in a row to start 2024.