Max Verstappen took pole position for Red Bull in a nailbiting qualifying session ahead of the inaugural F1 Sprint of 2022 at Imola. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc took P2 after being hampered by a late red flag, while Lando Norris managed P3 on the grid for McLaren.
After Leclerc topped FP1 the rain subsided well before Friday’s qualifying session and the field emerged on soft tyres for Q1, in which he again set the fastest time to go half a second ahead of Verstappen. Q2 saw a greater threat of rain, Verstappen topping those timesheets before Sainz crashed from P2 – and then the clouds unleashed.
Intermediates would have to be donned for the final shootout and it was there that Verstappen set the early benchmark of 1m 27.999s – just as Valtteri Bottas crashed to bring out the fourth red flag of the afternoon with three minutes remaining.
Nearly eight-tenths off, Leclerc had one last chance to pry provisional pole away from the reigning champion but was left second and 0.799s off after the red flag. Norris took third for McLaren but slid off track in the final seconds of Q3, while Kevin Magnussen finished a fine fourth for Haas and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top five for Alpine.
In sixth was Norris’s team mate Daniel Ricciardo while Sergio Perez could only manage P7 for Red Bull, ahead of Bottas – who was eighth before crashing his Alfa Romeo. Vettel, managing Q3 in his Aston Martin, took P9 to leave Ferrari's Sainz in a de facto P10 after crashing out of Q2.
Mercedes missed out on Q3, both George Russell (P11) and Lewis Hamilton (P13) in the drop zone before rain hit in Q2. Mick Schumacher split the Silver Arrows for Haas in P12 while Zhou Guanyu was 14th, despite going P4 in Q1. That left Lance Stroll 15th for Aston Martin.
Nicholas Latifi missed out on Q2 in P18 for Williams, behind both AlphaTauris – Yuki Tsunoda P16 and Pierre Gasly P17 – in a less-than-ideal start to their home weekend.
Esteban Ocon suffered a suspected gearbox issue and ended up 19th, while Alex Albon was eliminated from Q1 when his right-rear brake caught fire and spread debris on the track, putting the Williams a provisional P20 on the grid for the Sprint.
See the full recap from qualifying:
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