Max Verstappen takes Emilia Romagna Grand Prix pole in epic qualifying battle after red flag chaos at Imola

Max Verstappen takes Emilia Romagna Grand Prix pole in epic qualifying battle after red flag chaos at Imola

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Stuart Ballard

By Stuart Ballard

Published: 18/05/2024

- 16:07

Updated: 18/05/2024

- 16:15

Both McLaren drivers came within one-tenth-of-a-second of Max Verstappen in qualifying.

Max Verstappen pipped Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris to pole in an entertaining qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Both Q1 and Q2 indicated that it would be a close fight between Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari, although both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz struggled to match their rivals in the end.

Verstappen took provisional pole after the first set of lap times, but both Norris and Piastri were showing good pace throughout their laps.

The reigning world champion managed to improve on his time during his second run and it was needed as both Piastri and Norris improved too.

Max Verstappen took pole position again

Max Verstappen took pole position again


However, Verstappen was able to hold on to finish less than one-tenth faster than both McLaren drivers.

Red Bull's dominance at the start of the season has seemingly been wiped away in recent weeks with both McLaren and Ferrari closing the gap to Verstappen.

It set up a fascinating qualifying session in Imola with five drivers all in with a chance of taking pole.

But there was disaster for both Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso before qualifying had begun after both suffered separate incidents in FP3.

Alonso smashed into the barriers at the final corner after losing control of his Aston Martin, causing a red flag to the session.

Perez caused another stoppage in the final few minutes of FP3 after taking too much kerb and driving straight into the barrier.

It left both Aston Martin and Red Bull working frantically in their respective garages to try and get the cars ready for Q1.

Both were able to get out on track, but Alonso struggled and ended up 19th-quickest in a disappointing performance.

Fernando Alonso was knocked out in Q1

Fernando Alonso was knocked out in Q1


Perez managed to get through to Q2 comfortably but that was as far as he could manage after a dismal run in an attempt to make the final shootout.

Behind Verstappen, Piastri and Norris were both Ferraris with Leclerc putting himself alongside the Brit on the second row.

George Russell continued his impressive qualifying record over Lewis Hamilton for the season as he qualified sixth fastest ahead of Yuki Tsunoda.

Lewis Hamilton qualified eighth

Lewis Hamilton qualified eighth


Hamilton will start Sunday's race in eighth alongside Tsunoda while Daniel Ricciardo pipped Nico Hulkenberg to ninth.

Verstappen matched Ayrton Senna's record of eight consecutive poles by finishing on top.

He said: "It's a great start to the year and very special. It's 30 years since he passed away, so very pleased to get pole and in a way it's a nice memory to him.

"He was an incredible F1 driver, especially in qualifying."

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