Thursday, September 17, 2020

Mercedes Masters Mugello: Hamilton Starts On Pole For Tuscan Grand Prix

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.

Qualifying for the 2020 Formula 1 continues to be a time that the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team has embraced as a personal playground. For all but two grand prix events, Lewis Hamilton has been the dominant driver in the dominant organization claiming  pole position at the end of the traditional Saturday time trial session. Adding to impressive career statistics at well-known, historic Formula 1 tracks such as Spa-Francorchamps and Silverstone in 2020, Hamilton faced a unique challenge as the tour arrived at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello for the first-ever Tuscan Grand Prix.

Despite the 5.245-kilometer Ferrari-owned circuit being a personal testing course for the Prancing Horse, the Mercedes AMG team held ownership of the three practice sessions ahead of Saturday’s qualifying with Valtteri Bottas leading in all three prep periods. However, Lewis Hamilton emerged supreme at the end of qualifying for the Tuscan Grand Prix taking pole with a top Q3 time of 1-minute, 15.144 seconds. The 95th career pole position for the British driver is the fastest competitive lap set on the Mugello track. 

Lewis Hamilton narrowly beat teammate Valtteri Bottas for the top spot in the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix by a margin of just 0.059 seconds. Fastest in practice sessions, Bottas missed out on a last minute opportunity to outdo Hamilton’s when the Renault of Esteban Ocon spun on track causing a local yellow. 

Directly behind the Mercedes AMG team that occupies the front row for the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix is the two cars of Red Bull Racing. Max Verstappen has shown promising pace against the Mercedes throughout the race weekend and mustered a third-fastest time in Q3 a little more than 0.3 seconds slower than Bottas. Verstappen expresses optimism in ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a post-qualifying press release stating, “A Mercedes is never easy to overtake but we will give it all we have and I love this track so I'm really looking forward to the race." Recording the fourth-quickest effort for Sunday’s main event, Alexander Albon posted his most impressive qualifying results in his young Formula 1 career. 

The Tucsan Grand Prix holds a great deal of importance to the Ferrari team. Not only a race being held on their own testing track, the Mugello Circuit’s 2020 race serves as the 1,000th Formula 1 appearance for the Italian auto brand. Wearing special commemorative colours for the occasion, Charles Leclerc gave Scuderia Ferrari it’s best showing in Saturday qualifying with a fifth-fastest lap time. Leclerc will be the only Ferrari-powered entrant among the top 12 cars on the grid. Kimi Raikkonen driving a Ferrari-propelled Alfa Romeo grabbed 13th one spot ahead of the second Scuderia Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. 

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.

With an uncertain Formula 1 career for 2021 after Racing Point (set to become Aston Martin next year) selecting Sebastian Vettel to pair with Lance Stroll next season, Mexican driver Sergio Perez was sixth-fastest in qualifying beating his teammate by 0.045 seconds. Perez and Stroll will effectively switch grid positions due to a one-grid place penalty assessed after an incident in the second Friday practice session. Race stewards ruled Perez was at-fault for contact with Kimi Raikkonen during the second practice when the Racing Point joined the race circuit from pit road. 

From 8th through 11th place starters for the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix are Renault-powered race cars. Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault F1 Team entry will start alongside Sergio Perez. The fifth grid row will have the McLaren driven by last week’s runner-up finisher at Monza Carlos Sainz Jr on the same row as Esteban Ocon. Lando Norris in the second McLaren is starting Sunday’s race in 11th place.

The Tuscan Grand Prix is the first race in the 2020 Formula 1 season that will run with fans in attendance.

2020 Formula 1
Tuscan Grand Prix
Starting Grid

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