Lewis Hamilton claimed his 99th career pole position in qualifying Saturday for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez set to start alongside him at Imola. Max Verstappen, runner-up to Hamilton at the season-opening race in Bahrain last month, will begin third on the grid in the other Red Bull as the top three were separated by less than one-tenth of a second. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc qualified in fourth ahead of Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, who was heading for second but had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas could only manage eighth, with Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll rounding out the top 10.
Carlos Sainz failed to make it to Q3 and will start in 11th position in the second Ferrari.
Two-time former world champion Fernando Alonso was a disappointing 15th, six places behind Alpine team-mate Ocon.
Yuki Tsunoda, who impressed by coming ninth on his F1 debut in Bahrain, planted his Alpha Tauri into the wall in Q1 and will set off from the back on Sunday.