Friday, April 30, 2021

One Before One Hundred: Hamilton Grabs 99th Career Pole at Imola

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/LAT Images/Pirelli



Having returned to the Imola Circuit for the first time in 15 years last season as part of an improvised grand prix schedule, Formula 1 cars return to the Italian track for the second year in a row for the second event in the 2021 season. In qualifying for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Max Verstappen driving for Red Bull Racing unseated Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team’s seven-year hold on claiming pole in the first grand prix. Although the Mercedes team captured ultimate glory with Lewis Hamilton winning the main feature on Sunday, the first race of 2021 showed the German factory team used to owning the top of the front row was going to face a major threat from the resurgent Austrian-based squad.

In qualifying for the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the Mercedes AMG team recaptured the pole position for the first time since the last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix. With a 1-minute, 14.411-second lap time around the 4.909-kilometer race track, Lewis Hamilton place his Mercedes AMG F1 W12 E Performance race car in the prime spot ahead of Sunday’s 63-lap event. On pace to become the first Formula 1 driver to hit the triple digits in career pole positions, Hamilton’s triumph came under pressure of both Red Bull Racing drivers. Sergio Perez was just 0.035 seconds short of the lead Mercedes AMG driver’s top time while teammate Max Verstappen was 0.087 seconds off the pole sitter’s best effort.

Charles Leclerc and his Scuderia Ferrari team mounted an excellent charge in Q3 securing a second row spot at Imola. Recording a time just 0.050 seconds slower than the Ferrari, Pierre Gasly appears to have an edge in qualifying at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in two events. Gasly and his Honda-powered AlphaTauri will start fifth for the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after qualifying fourth for the race last year. Gasly’s AlphaTauri Yuki Tsunoda suffered a hard crash in the early stages of the Q1 session losing control with his car in turn 15. The Japanese driver left his vehicle unhurt and will start the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the rear.

Repeating a trend occurring in qualifying during last fall’s Formula 1 event, a multitude of drivers had times deleted due to exceeding track limits. Lance Stroll, Sergio Perez, Nicholas Latifi and Pierre Gasly all lost a lap time due to placing their vehicles beyond the allowed track boundaries during the three sessions in qualifying. In the Q3 session, Lando Norris’ best lap that was fast enough to place the #4 McLaren-Mercedes in third place was disallowed after exceeding track limits in turn nine. Norris settles for a seventh place starting position for Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/LAT Images/Pirelli

Qualifying for the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix included also produced one of the best efforts for Williams Racing in a long time. Leaving the 2020 Formula 1 season without scoring a constructors’ championship point, both cars advanced past the opening Q1 session. After Q2, George Russell placed his #63 car in 12th place while Canadian Nicholas Latifi earned a 14th place starting position for Sunday.

2021 Formula 1 Season
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
Qualifying Results
Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
2 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda
3 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda
4 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
5 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
7 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
9 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team Renault
10 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
11 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
12 63 George Russell Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
13 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
14 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
15 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team Renault
16 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
17 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
18 47 Mick Schumacher Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari
19 9 Nikita Mazepin Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari
20 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda

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