Summary of Saturday in Imola: A thrilling qualifying session!

17-04-2021 21:27 | Updated: 17-04-2021 21:58
Summary of Saturday in Imola: A thrilling qualifying session!

Formula 1 is back at the classic circuit of Imola this weekend. Red Bull Racing and Mercedes seemed to be well matched during the free practice sessions, and that became even more clear during Saturday's spectacular qualifying session!

No problems at last for Red Bull Racing

Like every race weekend, it's very important for teams to spend as much time as possible on the track, to get a lot of data on the behaviour of the tyres, the track and the difference with the competition. Red Bull Racing however missed out on a lot of data on Friday because of problems for Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.

Saturday morning was the team's last chance to gain some track experience, and it worked out well. The team finally had no problems and Verstappen showed that the times on Friday are not entirely representative. The Dutchman set the fastest time of the session, with no less than half a second ahead of Mercedes.

The challenging circuit of Imola

During Bahrain, there was a lot of discussion about track limits, but this weekend in Italy it's very clear: if you cross the line in certain corners, your time will be removed in practice and qualifying and you'll get a warning during the race. At Imola, it's just hard to stay within in the lines and many lap times were taken away by the stewards during qualifying.

Yuki Tsunoda showed that the circuit can be very challenging. The Japanese driver left an excellent impression in Bahrain, but early on in qualifying the AlphaTauri driver parked his car in the tyre pile, resulting in a red flag. The rookie was a surprising drop out in Q1, while both Williams drivers managed Q2.

Tough battle for pole position

The real battle in qualifying erupts in Q3, when it comes to pole position. The battle for pole has not been particularly exciting in recent years, but the same cannot be said for Imola qualifying. After the first runs, Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time, just ahead of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

There was however one more surprising finalist because Lando Norris managed to drive a stunner of a lap. The McLaren driver was fastest in the first and second sector, to finish on the provisional second place. It was not to be, however, as the Briton's joy turned to disappointment not long after when the stewards took away his time for violating the track limits.

Hamilton's first run was in the end just enough, as he was unable to improve his own time. Sergio Perez managed to do so and was the surprising second, a fraction ahead of Verstappen who made a mistake in his final run. The one who disappointed the most was Valtteri Bottas, who will have to start from eighth tomorrow. The field is so tightly packed that there's simply no room for error.

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