99th career pole position for Lewis Hamilton in exciting Saturday qualifying

Lewis Hamilton gets out of his car after the qualifying session at the Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, Italy (Photo by BRYN LENNON/AFP via Getty Images)

This year, many have said that Mercedes have lost a lot of performance but Lewis Hamilton keeps denying that – not with words, but with actions.

In the first qualifying session at the 2021 Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was the fastest with a time of 1:14.672. Hamilton was second, and no surprising eliminations happened – which included the two Alfa Romeo and the two Haas drivers. Additionally, AlphaTauri’s rookie Yuki Tsunoda did not advance to Q2 because of a crash at Variante Alta – turns 14 and 15 of the Imola Circuit. Tsunoda did not set a lap time but will be permitted to race at the stewards’ discretion.

Q1 also saw both Williams drivers make it into the top fifteen – Nicholas Latifi even outpaced his teammate George Russell in the session and the pair were twelfth and fourteenth, respectively.

In Q2, Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez was the quickest with a lap time of 1:14.716. The Mexican set the time with soft tires, while his teammate Max Verstappen and both Mercedes drivers advanced to the final qualifying session with medium tires – which will allow them to go longer at the start of tomorrow’s race.

In the second session, Carlos Sainz was shockingly eliminated and qualified eleventh while his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc was third in the session and advanced. Also, Russell continued his streak of never being outqualified by a Williams teammate – qualifying in twelfth position; Latifi will start fourteenth. Sadly, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso did not advance into the top ten shootout either.

In the top ten determining session, the fastest sector times kept changing every lap by multiple different drivers. In his first lap in the third session, Hamilton set a 1:14.411 lap time – which would eventually hold and be the pole position time. For comparison, Bottas’ pole position time at last season’s race was an impressive 1:13.609.

After the chequered flag came out, Lando Norris set the second fastest lap time but his result was deleted because he exceeded track limits. The Brit will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix seventh.

However, a different surprise wandered in: Perez outqualified his teammate Verstappen and they will start the race second and third, respectively. Verstappen had not been outqualified by a teammate since Daniel Ricciardo in 2017.

Leclerc will start from an impressive fourth position in the Ferrari, Pierre Gasly will begin the race from fifth position in the AlphaTauri, ahead of the McLaren of Ricciardo in sixth place.

Grid for the 2021 Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix :

  1. Lewis Hamilton (MERCEDES) – Q3 time: 1:14.411
  2. Sergio Perez (RED BULL RACING)
  3. Max Verstappen (RED BULL RACING)
  4. Charles Leclerc (FERRARI)
  5. Pierre Gasly (ALPHATAURI)
  6. Daniel Ricciardo (MCLAREN)
  7. Lando Norris (MCLAREN)
  8. Valtteri Bottas (MERCEDES)
  9. Esteban Ocon (ALPINE)
  10. Lance Stroll (ASTON MARTIN)
  11. Carlos Sainz (FERRARI)
  12. George Russell (WILLIAMS)
  13. Sebastian Vettel (ASTON MARTIN)
  14. Nicholas Latifi (WILLIAMS)
  15. Fernando Alonso (ALPINE)
  16. Kimi Räikkönen (ALFA ROMEO)
  17. Antonio Giovinazzi (ALFA ROMEO)
  18. Mick Schumacher (HAAS)
  19. Nikita Mazepin (HAAS)
  20. Yuki Tsunoda (ALPHATAURI) – Retired in Q1

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