(Photo courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas press office)
7-Time World Champion Lewis Hamilton has taken the 99th pole position of his Formula 1 career, beating home the two Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.
Today also marked the 50th consecutive double Q3 appearance for the Mercedes F1 Team. Both drivers will start the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on the Medium compound tyre.
Lewis Hamilton Surprised With Pole
After the Red Bulls made all the running in Bahrain, Lews Hamilton wasn't expecting to be on pole at Imola, and was pleasantly surprised with the result.
"Today has been great, obviously. I definitely didn't expect us to be ahead of the two Red Bulls. I think they've been so quick this weekend. There were times when they were six tenths ahead. We didn't really know where they would be, but the car was already feeling a lot better from the beginning of this weekend, so you know, mad respect to the Team for the hard work to really narrow down the window."
"This track is all medium and high speed corners, so I think that's why we've closed the gap. Temperatures are much lower which has brought us closer to the Red Bulls. But they are so strong - it's going to take absolutely perfect laps to stay ahead of them if we are going to have a chance of the win tomorrow," said the pole-sitter.
Terrible Day For Valtteri Bottas
While his teammate secured yet another pole position, it was a terrible day for Valtteri Bottas, who struggled for pace in Q3 and could only manage a P8 finish, which will make scoring a podium tomorrow a big challenge.
"Today was a little bit confusing and I don't understand the Q3 performance yet. On the first run of Q3 I had oversteer and then the second run, the rear end was not so good. Not what I was aiming for today, especially with the feeling I had at the start of qualifying."
"Q3 first run, I went into turn two and had a really sudden snap from the rear end and I lost a lot of time. The same in run two, I couldn't trust the rear end. That isn't something I felt in Q1 or Q2 so it's difficult to understand - we will have to investigate. Overtaking here is difficult with a narrow track but I will fight to give it everything tomorrow," added Bottas.
Mercedes On Back Foot Despite Pole
Despite being on pole, team boss Toto Boss believes his team will be on the back foot in the race, owing to Sergio Perez starting on the soft compound tyre.
"The pole was a surprise because at the moment we do not have the quickest car. It was so close and Max, without the mistake, would have been on pole. But the loss compared to last year is just enormous - we were six tenths ahead and now we are two tenths behind. So, we need to scratch our heads and just try to find the performance. It's a quicker car than in Bahrain, I think we have got the car in a better balance window, that's the main reason for the improvement. We had some drivability concerns in Bahrain and we are sorting that out - slowly we are getting there."
"It's a big advantage for them because not only two Red Bulls behind but Perez is starting on softs so they can do two different strategies. Valtteri has to make his way through the soft runners, which he will and can, but I think we are a little bit on the backfoot," concluded Wolff.