Lewis Hamilton claimed the inaugural pole of the Tuscan Grand Prix after a yellow flag interrupted the end of qualifying.
Hamilton had taken provisional pole with his first lap, a 1m15.144s, with a 0.059s margin from Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. However, the Briton couldn’t improve with his second lap in windy conditions, with a slow first sector leaving him off his own pace and opening the door to the Finn to close the gap.
But Esteban Ocon spun his Renault on the gravel at Poggio Secco at the start of his final attempt, triggering a yellow flag. Bottas, who was on track behind the Frenchman, was forced to slow and abandon his lap, confirming pole for Hamilton.
👋 You've got to hand it to @LewisHamilton
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 12, 2020
“It’s been a really, really tough weekend, if I’m honest,” he said. “Valtteri was quicker than me all day yesterday and even this morning and in Q1.
“I’ve been working so hard in the background to try and improve on my lines, improve on the setup, and with my engineers we did such an amazing job.”
Bottas, who is 47 points adrift of Hamilton in the title standings, had looked the quicker driver all weekend, having clean swept all three practice sessions, and rued his missed opportunity to swing the momentum.
“The yellow flag definitely hampered me,” he said. “I had more to come but didn’t get the opportunity. It’s disappointing as I’ve been quick all weekend.”
Max Verstappen was 0.365s off the pace to qualify third, but the Dutchman admitted Red Bull Racing was never in the hunt.
“Personally I never expected to really fight them in qualifying, but I think overall so far this weekend has been really promising,” he said. “At the end to be third here in qualifying, we can be very happy with that.”
Alex Albon will start alongside on the second row in fourth to equal his best qualifying result, albeit more than 0.4s slower than his teammate.
Charles Leclerc qualified a miraculous fifth for Ferrari’s 1000th grand prix start, the Monegasque heading the midfield 1.1s off the pace.
Sergio Perez bested Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll despite running an older-specification car. Stroll has benefited from upgraded aerodynamics owing to his higher position in the championship but fell short of Perez’s time by 0.045s. The pair will switch places, however, when Perez serves a one-place grid penalty for colliding with Kimi Raikkonen during FP2 on Friday.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo beat McLaren’s Carlos Sainz to eighth, with Ocon to start 10th after throwing away his sole lap in the gravel.
Lando Norris missed out on the top-10 shootout for the first time this season after being knocked down to 11th by teammate Sainz after their final laps of Q2. Daniil Kvyat qualified 12th, but the AlphaTauri would have been capable of more had the Russian not run through the gravel at the exit of the heavily loaded Savelli on his final lap.
Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen qualified 13th ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, the pair split by 0.004s and more than 1.5s off the Q2 benchmark, while Romain Grosjean will start 15th.
Pierre Gasly, winner of last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, was the first driver eliminated from Q1, missing out on progression by only 0.053s.
"I’m quite frustrated because we showed good pace all weekend… It’s not going to be easy to pass [in the race]"
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 12, 2020
Antonio Giovinazzi will start 17th ahead of Williams teammates George Russell and Nicholas Latifi. Russell’s fastest lap was compromised by running wide onto the gravel at Savelli, but the Briton kept his foot down through Arrabbiata to maintain his 100 percent qualifying record against his teammates.
Kevin Magnussen will start the Tuscan Grand Prix from the back of the grid.