Verstappen holds off McLaren & Ferrari challenge to secure Imola pole

Oscar Piastri will line up alongside the reigning champion on the front row at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 18: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 18, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202405180350 // Usage for editorial use only //

Max Verstappen will start the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix from pole position after coming out on top in a fiercly contested qualifying at Imola.

McLaren and Ferrari both showed good pace, while Yuki Tsunoda also showed strong pace in Q1 and Q2, but it was the defending champion who found the best time of the day.

The Aston Martin mechanics were still repairing Fernando Alonso’s car at the start of qualifying after he crashed in final practice, but the Spaniard was out of the garage midway through Q1, before immediately running wide again.

The two-time champion couldn’t get a fast lap together, leaving him at the rear of the field, with Kevin Magnussen joining him on the back row, with the Haas driver complaining he was blocked.

The Alpine cars continued to show improving pace, with both drivers comfortably progressing to Q2, but neither Esteban Ocon nor Pierre Gasly could secure a spot in the top 10.

The big surprise in Q2 though came from Red Bull, as Sergio Perez was knocked out, a wide run over a kerb costing him time on his final flying lap.

In Q3, Ferrari were unable to recreate the performance that made them the team to beat in practice, while Oscar Piastri found some extra pace to beat teammate Lando Norris to a spot on the front row.

Provisional qualifying result:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)

3. Lando Norris (McLaren)

4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

6. George Russell (Mercedes)

7. Yuki Tsunoda (VCARB)

8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

9. Daniel Ricciardo (VCARB)

10. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)

11. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

12. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

13. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

14. Alex Albon (Williams)

15. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

16. Valtteri Bottas (Sauber)

17. Logan Sargeant (Williams)

18. Guanyu Zhou (Sauber)

19. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

20. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin

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