Valtteri Bottas
Credits: Twitter @F1

Valtteri Bottas secured his fourth pole position of the season by snatching pole from  championship leader Lewis Hamilton with his final qualifying lap for the Emilia-Romagna GP, while Pierre Gasly also starred for AlphaTauri. Hamilton was ahead of Bottas for much of the condensed first day of Imola’s Formula 1 return but, turning the tables on the man who has dominated 2020, the Finn out-paced Hamilton by 0.097s at the end of Q3 to win what was an exclusive Mercedes battle.

“Valtteri did a great job,” said Hamilton, who will be aiming for a record-extending 93rd F1 victory in Sunday’s race. “It was a pretty poor lap from myself. These things happen you can’t always get it perfect.” Bottas, on the back of two disappointing races in Germany and Portugal, added: “It’s going to be a good fight [tomorrow].”

Max Verstappen survived an engine scare in Q2 to join the pole fight, but was essentially never a factor and finished a distant third – half a second off the pace.

Gasly’s display, on the week he learnt he would be staying at AlphaTauri for 2020 and not replacing Albon, was particularly impressive to head the chasing pack in fourth, while the in-form Ricciardo also deserves immense credit given Renault team-mate Esteban Ocon didn’t even reach the final shootout. “That was the best lap I’ve done so far this year,” admitted Ricciardo. “I’m stoked.”

Charles Leclerc continued his brilliant Saturday form to secure seventh on what was yet another day of contrasting driver performances at Ferrari, with four-time F1 champion Vettel outqualified by Williams’ George Russell for the second consecutive weekend and failing to make it to Q3 for the ninth time in a row. Daniil Kvyat was eighth, his first Saturday top-10 result of an inconsistent season.

Emilia-Romagna GP Qualifying result
1. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
4. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
6. Alex Albon, Red Bull
7. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
8. Daniil Kvyat, AlphaTauri
9. Lando Norris, McLaren
10. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
Knocked out in Q2
11. Sergio Perez, Racing Point
12. Esteban Ocon, Renault
13. George Russell, Williams
14. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
15. Lance Stroll, Racing Point
Knocked out in Q1
16. Romain Grosjean, Haas
17. Kevin Magnussen, Haas
18. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
19. Nicholas Latifi, Williams
20. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo