Verstappen, Pole in the ‘chaos’ of Imola and Sainz accident; Alonzo, fifth

The Dutchman has achieved his fourteenth Pole in F1

Carlos Sainz has had an accident and will start tenth tomorrow

Fernando Alonso, after another good classification, was fifth

Max Verstappen has given the surprise in the classification of the Emilia Romagna F1 2022 GP. The Dutchman, in a chaotic session, has beaten the Ferraris at home, on an Imola circuit where they hoped to shine, and has achieved his fourteenth Pole in Formula 1.

It was a classification with very delicate conditions: the asphalt was practically dry from the start to the arrival of the rain in Q2… and Carlos Sainz, who wanted to make up for what happened in Australia, had an accident that will force him out tenth tomorrow.

With the man from Madrid out of the fight, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc have once again fought for Pole. With so many interruptions and red flags, today it was all about having the best time at the right time, and this time the coin fell on the Dutch side.

On the other hand, Lando Norris had a good session to be third, ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Fernando Alonso who is still in good shape. The surprise, again in the ‘box’ of Mercedes, since none of them has managed to enter Q3.

Q1

After a single free practice session dominated by Ferrari in wet conditions, qualifying started with the asphalt still quite wet and cold –temperature 15ºC–, but with a visible dry lane.

When the traffic light turned green, many drivers rushed out onto the track to test what conditions it was in. Most of them have done it with intermediate tyres, but the Alfa Romeos have directly mounted the soft ones.

The first time of the session was a 1’27”214 by Lewis Hamilton, although Lance Stroll appeared early on soft tires and directly set a 1’23”419.

Fernando Alonso, in his first attempt on softs, has done a 1’25”638 with which he has placed fourth, behind Lance Stroll, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.

The Ferraris started a little later, but they ran into a red flag caused by Alexander Albon – his Williams, with fire at the rear, left many pieces on the track – and they were unable to set times.

After the restart, again many riders took to the track with alacrity and this time the dry tires were completely the protagonists.

The times would not take long to fall, and finally it would be Charles Leclerc who would keep the best time of the session –1’18”796–, ahead of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.

The most surprising thing is that Lewis Hamilton has once again been close to staying in Q1, although it has happened with fifteenth place. Those eliminated have been Yuki Tsunoda, Pierre Gasly, Nicholas Latifi, Esteban Ocon and Alexander Albon.

Q2

After a Q1 with a lot of emotion on all fronts, the second session started with the asphalt even drier… and colder, at a temperature of 14ºC.

The radars predicted the arrival of the rain for this same session, so again many pilots have quickly taken to the track with the green traffic light.

There was no time to waste trying to get a good lap on soft tires before the arrival of the liquid element. Traffic, also key in this fight.

Max Verstappen dominated the first attempt with a time of 1’18”793, followed by Carlos Sainz in second place and Lando Norris in third; Sergio Pérez, Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso completed the first six places and the Mercedes were out of the ‘top 10’.

Some drivers have decided to make a second attempt ipso facto before the arrival of the rain, but then Carlos Sainz had an accident in the last corner of the circuit and caused the second red flag in qualifying.

A few minutes before the restart the first drops of rain began to fall, so it was practically impossible to improve the times and only some drivers who were already virtually in Q3 went out on the track to gain sensations.

With the time table intact, Max Verstappen finally got the best time of the session and those eliminated were George Russell, Mick Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Guanyu Zhou and Lance Stroll.

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Q3

After two qualifying sessions with a lot of spectacle and emotion on the track, it was time to face the final with the asphalt again wet and at a temperature of 13ºC.

On this occasion, the nine drivers –Carlos Sainz has moved on to Q3, but obviously he has not been able to lap– have started with intermediate tires for their first ‘stint’ and Fernando Alonso, who did not want traffic, was the first in line.

However, Kevin Magnussen caused a new red flag for a track exit at Acque Minerali and, although he was able to return to the Pit-Lane under his own power, no driver was able to set times.

The session was resumed with just under nine minutes to go and, once again, all the drivers took to the Italian track on Pirelli’s intermediate compound.

The first times were around 1’30”, but soon the McLarens would go down to 1’29”. When the ‘roosters’ appeared, Leclerc scored a 1’28”778 and Verstappen was two hundredths behind.

Fernando Alonso, after a first failed attempt due to going off the track, set a 1’29”202 and provisionally placed fifth, behind Verstappen, Leclerc, Norris and Magnussen.

So another red flag! Valtteri Bottas left his Alfa Romeo ‘parked’ in the third sector and the session was interrupted again with 2’58” to go.

There was only time for one last attempt, but then… another red flag! Lando Norris has once again had a track exit at Acque Minerali and, now, the session has come to an end.

In this way, Max Verstappen has achieved the first Pole of the year and the fourteenth of his career in Formula 1, ahead of Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris; Kevin Magnussen will start fourth tomorrow and Fernando Alonso will do so from fifth place.

On the other hand, Daniel Ricciardo was sixth and Sergio Pérez, affected by so many interruptions, finished seventh. Bottas, Vettel and Sainz complete the top 10.

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