Formula 1 Commentary

F1 Emilia Romagna GP Live Commentary and Updates - FP3 and Qualifying

Live updates from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend at Imola

F1 Emilia Romagna GP Live Commentary and Updates - FP3 and Qualifying

By: Tom Howard, Stefan Mackley


  • Hamilton takes pole for Emilia Romagna GP from Perez in a best-ever P2, as Norris loses what would have been third-quickest time for track limits.
  • Verstappen only third on the grid ahead of Leclerc and Gasly, while 2020 polesitter Bottas down in P8 behind McLarens of Ricciardo and Norris. 
  • Perez heads Norris and Leclerc in Q2, the second Red Bull driver using an extra set of soft tyres to avoid missing the top-10 shootout.
  • On his first GP in Italy as a Ferrari driver, Sainz just misses out in P11 with Russell, Vettel, Latifi and Alonso joining him.
  • Bottas pips Hamilton in Q1, with Norris third ahead of Verstappen and Ocon.
  • Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Schumacher and Mazepin join Tsunoda in the Q1 drop zone after the Japanese rookie crashes at Varianta Alta chicane to cause major damage to the rear-end of his AlphaTauri.
1. Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Perez, Red Bull
3. Verstappen, Red Bull
4. Leclerc, Ferrari
5. Gasly, AlphaTauri
6. Ricciardo, McLaren
7. Norris, McLaren
8. Bottas, Mercedes
9. Ocon, Alpine
10. Stroll, Aston Martin
Status: Stopped

So, in 23-and-a-half-hours time it will be lights out for the start of the Emilia Romagna GP. Until then we'll provide the latest news from the Imola paddock but be sure to join us again tomorrow for the main event. Ciao for now!

Here's the full report on an exhilarating Emilia Romagna GP qualifying:

A nod deserves to go to Norris who but for a few centimetres of the Imola track would have been on the front row. Instead he starts tomorrow’s race in seventh place. That's the way it goes.

Over the last couple of years, it has often been two Mercedes against the one Red Bull but it has been flipped around at Imola. Despite that change, it is still Hamilton on pole and for his next pole he gets to raise his metaphorical F1 bat to mark a century.

Hamilton on his 99th F1 pole position: "We didn't expect to be ahead of both Red Bulls but we've done a good job and really narrowed down the window to get the car working. I love the challenge, [two Red Bulls] will make it hard on the strategy in the race."

Verstappen on P3: "Not so good in Q3, I went off at Turn 3, so a bit messy and not a good lap. We'll see what went wrong but still P3 is a good starting position. We [Red Bull] have two cars [starting] on different tyres so we will try to make it difficult."

Perez on his P2 in qualifying: "I have to say well done to the team as I made a mistake yesterday and made them work. We never expected to be here today from where we were yesterday. I could have been on pole, I did a mistake on my final lap."


Final Q3 qualifying positions: Hamilton, Perez, Verstappen, Leclerc, Gasly, Ricciardo, Norris, Bottas, Ocon, Stroll.

Disaster for Bottas who did improve but nowhere near good enough and actually dropped down to eighth place. That means it is one Mercedes vs two Red Bulls at the front tomorrow!

Perez instead goes P2 to outqualify Red Bull team-mate Verstappen! But it is Hamilton who takes pole position for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix!

Norris goes P2! But not for long as track limits at Turn 9 means his lap time is deleted.

Bottas doesn't improve by anywhere near enough and stays P6. Hamilton doesn't improve either but stays on provisional pole...

Verstappen has gone bold and come out last of the ten runners. Bottas leads the train to start these final laps followed by Hamilton.

Quick pause and time to go again. Three minutes remain in Q3.

So advantage Hamilton in Q3 as the drivers return to the pits for fresh tyres. 0.091s splits him to Verstappen in second place, while Bottas has almost a full six-tenths of a second to find down in sixth place.

Not for long though, as Hamilton takes provisional pole with a 1m14.411s - almost one-tenth faster than Verstappen. Bottas only P6, as Perez takes P3 and pushes Norris to P4.

*Lap time deletion klaxon* Stroll's first effort gets pinged off for track limits at Turn 15 so it sees Norris go top for now with a 1m14.875s.

All 10 drivers coming out on the track for their opening runs. A handful on used soft tyres having used an extra set in Q2.


Right - Q3 time - who is your money on for pole position?

Perez ended up topping Q2 having used a new set of softs to beat Norris by 0.002s. Leclerc also improved to take third, but expect the Mercedes pair and Verstappen to get back into the thick of it at the front in Q3.

Out in Q2: P11 Sainz, P12 Russell, P13 Vettel, P14 Latifi, P15 Alonso.

Alonso is joined by fellow Spaniard Sainz as a Q2 dropout. Sainz's 1m15.199s sees him miss out on the top 10 by just 0.061s.

Alonso is beaten by an F1 team-mate in qualifying for the first time since the 2017 Malaysian GP. Alonso’s final lap of 1m15.593s puts him P15 and last in Q2.

The semi-hold-up of Norris on Perez from earlier in Q2 will not be investigated after qualifying.

Stroll swaps positions with his team-mate to take P7 by over two-tenths of a second. Everyone apart from Norris is back on the track with one minute of Q2 to go.

Vettel slots into P7 with a 1m15.394s using the softs. That will put him right on the bubble to make it into Q3 if others find the expected gains.

Bottas, on the mediums again, is back out on the track probably not feeling totally safe after being shuffled back to P5. He has both Aston Martins for company.


Meanwhile the other McLaren of Ricciardo isn't where he wants to be. The Australian driver is P11 after his first run on the softs, while Russell, on mediums, is P10.

Norris, on the softs, goes fastest with a 1m14.718s. He has the tyre compound advantage over the Mercs and Verstappen, but that is still a Q3-worthy lap.

Perez, not on the mediums yet possibly given how his Q2 went in Bahrain, puts in a lap only good enough for P4 but he did get held up ever so slightly by Norris.

Hamilton tops the initial Q2 runs with a 1m14.817s on those mediums, with Verstappen P2 and Bottas P3. Elsewhere both Vettel and Gasly lose their laps for, you guessed it, exceeding track limits.

Both Verstappen and the Williams pair are also on the mediums. Expected from the Dutch driver, pretty bold from Latifi and Russell. Everyone else is currently on softs.

Latifi, Gasly and the Mercedes pair not hanging around at the start of this session. Both Bottas and Hamilton are on the yellow-walled medium tyres.

So, after a quick breather and time to digest those laps, Q2 is seconds from away from starting.


Out in Q1: P16 Raikkonen, P17 Giovinazzi, P18 Schumacher, P19 Mazepin, P20 Tsunoda. Not a good day for the F1 rookies.

Alonso ends up the lucky driver in 15th place at the end of that session to edge into Q2 for Alpine, meaning we lose fellow elder statesman Raikkonen.