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Hamilton claims F1 pole number 99 ahead of Perez and Verstappen

Hamilton claims F1 pole number 99 ahead of Perez and Verstappen

F1 News

Hamilton claims F1 pole number 99 ahead of Perez and Verstappen

Hamilton claims F1 pole number 99 ahead of Perez and Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton claimed the 99th pole position of his Formula 1 career, landing a surprise ahead of favourites Red Bull

Seven-time F1 champion Hamilton posted a time of one minute 14.411secs at Imola for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, pipping Red Bull's Sergio Perez by just 0.035s.

While not quite the perfect result for Red Bull, it is the reason why the team signed Perez, with the Mexican finishing 0.052secs ahead of team-mate Max Verstappen, who made a small mistake on his final run.

For Hamilton, it is the 30th different track at which he has claimed pole, while in stark contrast, it is the first time Perez will start a race from the front row in his 193rd grand prix.

Hamilton and Verstappen, however, do hold an advantage as they start on Pirelli's medium-compound tyres, while Perez lines up on the softs.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc starts fourth ahead of AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly to give Italy something to cheer, while McLaren duo Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris line up sixth and seventh.

Norris had a time on the final run that would have been good enough to start third, only to have it deleted for exceeding track limits at one stage.

Valtteri Bottas, who was on pole at Imola in mid-November, will start a lowly eighth by his and Mercedes' lofty standards, with Alpine's Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin lining up ninth and 10th respectively.

With Leclerc third quickest in Q2, it is a surprise team-mate Carlos Sainz starts 11th, with the Spaniard almost four-tenths of a second behind the Monégasque and missing out on the top-10 shoot-out by 0.061s.

Williams' George Russell starts a superb 12th, with team-mate Nicholas Latifi 14th as the duo made it into Q2 for only the second time in 19 races as a pairing.

Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel is sandwiched between the Williams, with Fernando Alonso down in 15th in his Alpine and out-qualified by a team-mate for the first time in 27 races since the Malaysian GP of 2017.

After just six minutes of Q1, Yuki Tsunoda destroyed the rear of his AlphaTauri in a crash at the Variante Alta chicane.

Tsunoda, who had earned plaudits for his performances in pre-season testing and again in Bahrain, will start at the back of the grid, or potentially from the pitlane.

The Japanese driver, who had pounded out numerous laps at Imola in older cars in the build-up to his debut F1 season with the team's factory a handful of kilometres away, misaligned his AT02 on entry into the right-left hander.

Emerging out of it, Tsunoda was unable to correct his line, resulting in the car careering backwards into a barrier, leaving the team with considerable work to do in repairs and the 20-year-old with an uphill climb to salvage points given the notorious difficulties in overtaking at this track.

With 12 minutes of the opening session remaining, and with only five drivers setting a time at that stage, it resulted in a hectic run for all once the track reopened.

Ahead of Tsunoda on the grid after their Q1 exits are the Alfa Romeo pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, along with Haas duo Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, with half-a-second separating the latter pair.

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