Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 29 November 2020

Valtteri Bottas snatches pole from Lewis Hamilton after blistering late lap at Imola

Mercedes lock out front row for Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes with teammate Lewis Hamilton after taking the pole position at Imola. EPA
Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes with teammate Lewis Hamilton after taking the pole position at Imola. EPA

Valtteri Bottas snatched pole position for Sunday's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix from his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton after a dramatic late lap during qualifying at Imola on Saturday.

The Finn, who is 77 points adrift of series leader and six-time champion Hamilton with five races remaining in this year's title, grabbed the top spot by a tenth of a second.

Hamilton, who was fastest in the only practice in the morning, had been on top through most of the qualifying session and took provisional pole on his first run in Q3 before Bottas beat him in the final seconds.

Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull ahead of his former team-mate Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, Daniel Ricciardo of Renault and Alex Albon in the second Red Bull.

Charles Leclerc took seventh for Ferrari with Daniil Kvyat eighth in the second Alpha Tauri ahead of the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.

Bottas' success brought him his fourth pole of the season and his 15th career pole as the Mercedes team claimed another front row lockout ahead of the race in which they can claim an unprecedented seventh consecutive constructors' championship.

They need only one car to finish in the top four to seal that record success.

"It's never easy to get pole position, but I really enjoyed it around this track," said Bottas. "I knew I had to improve on my last lap, so I found those little gains – and I had the shakes after the final run, which is always a good sign!"

Hamilton praised his team-mate.

"Valtteri did a great job and it was a pretty poor lap from myself, but you can't always get it right. This track is unbelievable, but I'm pretty certain it will be a boring race tomorrow – just a train after Turn One."

Meanwhile, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff fears that further Covid-19 lockdowns across Europe could hit the sport .

Speaking ahead of this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the third race to be held in Italy in an extraordinary coronavirus-affected season, Wolff said developments were worrying.

"The situation is becoming more difficult," he said at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. "F1 does not put anyone in danger as we stay in our microcosm, but we also cannot ignore that the number of cases in various countries is growing rapidly.

"At some point, the leaders of these countries may decide to close the borders which may affect our plans."

Updated: October 31, 2020 06:43 PM

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