Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Qualifying


The race is officially called the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix but most people will recognise it as the Imola GP, but not the Italian GP because that’s at the Monza circuit in September. Whenever F1 returns to Imola it’s always a chance to remember Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna who died in 1994, in qualifying and the race respectively. (It was called the San Marino GP but held at the Imola circuit.)

It’s been three long weeks since the Bahrain GP when we saw HAM and Mercedes snatch the win from VER’s clutches. Track limits were controversial, although the real problem was the stewards’ inconsistent application of the limits – for Imola the promise is that track limits will always apply.

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: BOT (1:16.564), HAM, VER, LEC, GAS, SAI, ALO, STR, LAT, RIC
    MAZ spun on his first lap, living up to his Mazespin nickname
    Now it’s TSU’s turn to spin
    VER cuts through the gravel at Turn 1
    Unfortunately the TV cameras missed it but apparently OCO was on a slow lap and PER on a quick one; somehow they came together in Turn 5, resulting in both cars pulling over and stopping; red flags, the session was paused
    (After FP1 both OCO and PER were called to the stewards but the decision was not to penalise either of them) [FIA]
    Session restarts with 10mins left on the clock
    FP1 draws to a close just as MAZ puts his Haas in the wall

  2. FP2: BOT (1:15.551), HAM, GAS, SAI, LEC, PER, TSU, NOR, GIO, STR
    Communications problems persist – no team radio and some telemetry missing
    NOR is first through the gravel trap in this session
    VER reports problems with the rear of the car; he pulls off-track and parks his Red Bull; short Virtual Safety Car period while the car’s moved
    LEC is first (I think) to lose his lap time for exceeding track limits
    MAZ asks his team to check the car because “there are some strange noises happening” (He sat out the start of FP2 while they rebuild his gearbox thanks to his accident at the end of FP1)
    LEC hits the wall, bringing out red flags

  3. FP3: VER (1:14.958), NOR, HAM, PER, LEC, GAS, SAI, BOT, ALO, OCO
    LAT off through the gravel at Villeneuve corner, and into the wall – red flags
    HAM’s lap time deleted for exceeding track limits
    GAS loses his AlphaTauri across the grass but keeps it out of the barriers
    New boy TSU complaining about PER not looking, and a few laps later whining again about traffic
    NOR tops the timing sheet with about 12mins left of this session
    RAI off across the gravel but recovers
    VER first to post a time under 1:15
    GIO loses his Alfa Romeo’s tail, spins across the gravel, takes a moment to catch his breath and returns to the track
    FP3 comes to the end, so just time now for some practice starts on the grid

F1 has a minute’s silence in tribute to Prince Philip; his funeral has meant today’s Quali is an hour earlier than originally planned.

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
The 18-minute long Q1 session starts… but there’s no rush for anyone to take to the track
MAZ is first out of the pits – can he complete a lap without spinning?
SCH 1:16.806 on soft tyres
MAZ exactly 1sec slower than his Haas teammate, but at least he made it round
STR 1:16.082
TSU has stuffed his AlphaTauri into the tyre wall at Variante Alta
Red flags – TSU is out of the car and walking away, but the rear of his car is destroyed
Without setting a lap time, TSU will start the race in P20 so any penalties for replacing major components will be irrelevant
The red Mercedes medical car gives TSU a lift back to the pit lane
Q1 will restart shortly with 12:01 still on the clock
Cars start to queue at the pit exit, waiting for the green light – everyone on softs
PER 1:15.744
LEC 1:15.558
VER 1:15.109
PER’s time is deleted for exceeding track limits
BOT 1:14.926
(HAM P3)
(NOR P2)
BOT 1:14.672
(HAM P2)
4mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are SCH, LAT, MAZ, RUS, TSU
SCH 0.2sec behind RAI; can’t improve on his P16 time
RUS P14, demoting RAI to P16
MAZ runs wide, through the gravel
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are RAI, SCH, LAT, MAZ, TSU
LAT P11, GIO P16
RAI P15, RUS P16
RUS P14, RAI P16
Back of the grid: RAI, GIO, SCH, MAZ, TSU*
*TSU did not set a lap time and will need to appeal to the stewards to be allowed to race

Qualifying session 2
Both Mercedes going out on medium tyres, as is VER, but GAS is on softs
BOT 1:15.098
VER 1:14.884
HAM 1:14.817
GAS and VET both have their times deleted
(PER P4 on softs)
NOR 1:14.718 on softs
RUS reports “de-rate” (feels like hitting the rev limiter) on the straight
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are RIC, ALO, OCO, LAT, VET
VET P7, pushing RUS down to P11
PER on another set of new softs
PER 1:14.716
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are LAT, ALO, RUS, RIC
RIC P8, SAI P11
ALO P13
(LEC P3)
SAI P11
RUS P12
Middle of the grid: SAI, RUS, VET, LAT, ALO

Top 10 shootout is between PER, NOR, LEC, HAM, VER, BOT, GAS, RIC, OCO, STR

Qualifying session 3
STR 1:16.791
NOR 1:14.875
STR’s time deleted
RIC P2
OCO P2
GAS P2
PER 1:14.665
BOT P3!
HAM 1:14.411
VER P2
LEC P5
Order after the first run: HAM, VER, PER, NOR, LEC, BOT, GAS, OCO, RIC, STR
Everyone heads to the pits for more fuel and a new set of tyres
BOT and HAM first to take to the track for the final run; VER is the last
BOT P5
HAM doesn’t improve
RIC P5
NOR P2 … but it’s deleted
Chequered flag
STR P9
LEC P4
PER P2
VER P3
OCO P9
STR’s time deleted again
Front of the grid: HAM, PER, VER, LEC, GAS, RIC, NOR, BOT, OCO, STR

HAM and Bono seem surprised that they held on to pole – “We got it mate, beautiful work!”
That’s HAM’s 99th F1 pole

Interviews:
HAM: “I didn’t expect to be ahead of two Red Bulls, they’ve been so quick this weekend. The car is feeling much better, I want to thank the team for their hard work. I love the challenge, having two Red Bulls will definitely make strategy harder.”
PER: “Well done to the team, most important is we are showing progress. I never expected to be here [in P2] today after yesterday. We should have been on pole today, I did a mistake on my final corner.”
VER: “Not so good in Q3, it was a bit messy, just not a good lap. You can’t be good all the time. P3 is a good starting position, we have the two cars on different tyres, we’ll have to make it difficult for them.”

Provisional grid: HAM, PER, VER, LEC, GAS, RIC, NOR, BOT, OCO, STR, SAI, RUS, VET, LAT, ALO, RAI, GIO, SCH, MAZ, TSU*
*TSU did not set a lap time and will need to appeal to the stewards to be allowed to race

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