Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Imola, 2020

Bottas takes Imola pole position from Hamilton on final lap

2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix qualifying

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Valtteri Bottas took pole position away from Lewis Hamilton with his final lap of qualifying for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

The Mercedes pair swept the front row as usual, while Max Verstappen bounced back from an engine problem to take third on the grid. Pierre Gasly claimed an impressive fourth for AlphaTauri.


The subject of track limits arose several times in practice and remained a problem as qualifying began. Valtteri Bottas and Alexander Albon had their best lap times deleted halfway through the session. That left them in the drop zone with five minutes remaining, along with Nicholas Latifi, Kevin Magnussen and Kimi Raikkonen.

Albon tidied up his lap on his return to the track, and closed within four tenths of a second of his team mate, to secure his progress to Q2. Bottas also escaped the bottom five and originally jumped up to second place. That became first when his team mate’s best time – unusually, set on an extra run at the end of Q1 – was also deleted for track limits, though Hamilton was already safe in Q2.

With Daniel Ricciardo also improved his time after making a late start to his qualifying session. That left the fight to escape the bottom five between the usual suspects.

Kevin Magnussen made another of his increasingly familiar excursions into a gravel trap at the end of Q1, as he over-committed in the second Rivazza at the end of his final lap. He failed to make the cut, as did his team mate and the two other Ferrari customers. Kimi Raikkonen was vexed at losing his best time due to track limits, while George Russell once again grabbed a place in the final 15.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1’15.918
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’15.939
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’15.953
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1’15.987
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’16.208

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Red Bull’s challenge to Mercedes faltered in the second phase of qualifying. Verstappen complained of a loss of power from his Honda engine and headed for the pits, where his team diagnosed a misfire and changed a spark plug in a bid to solve the problem. Albon, meanwhile, spun on his set of medium tyres at the Variante Alta, meaning he had to switch to softs for his final run.

From that unpromising start, the team bounced back impressively. Verstappen rejoined the track for a final run and made the gutsy choice of running on mediums again. His gamble was rewarded as he bagged a place in the top 10. Albon didn’t fancy the mediums, but also salvaged his afternoon by reaching Q3 on softs.

The Mercedes drivers led the session as they pleased on the medium tyres, followed by Pierre Gasly, who reprised his impressive form from first practice. Daniil Kvyat made it a full set of Honda-powered cars in Q3.

The McLaren pair scraped through in the bottom spots in the top 10. Remarkably, this came at the expense of both Racing Point drivers. Lance Stroll could only manage 15th after a scruffy lap which included a track limits infringement and a trip through the gravel at Rivazza, not far in front of Verstappen.

Russell out-qualified Sebastian Vettel for the second race in a row after the Ferrari driver also lost a time due to track limits. As in Portugal, Daniel Ricciardo was the only Renault driver to reach Q3, though this time he didn’t spin off.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1’15.061
12 Esteban Ocon Renault 1’15.201
13 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1’15.323
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’15.385
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1’15.494

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Neither Mercedes driver managed a completely clean first lap in Q3, but they were easily quick enough to lead the initial running. Bottas was quickest through the first two sectors, but ran wide in the third, which left Hamilton quickest, despite his bumpy run along the exit kerb at Variante Alta. Just three-hundredths of a second separated them.

Behind Verstappen in his familiar third place, Albon was initially pipped to fourth by Gasly. Then he lost another lap time due to track limits, and the second Red Bull slipped to 10th place. That promoted Leclerc, Norris and the rest.

Bottas knew a tidy final sector could be enough to turn the tables on Hamilton, and he found it. The pair were closely matched through the first two sectors again, but a clean run through the final part of the lap made the difference. Hamilton therefore had to settle for second, with Verstappen the inevitable third.

Gasly was thrilled to bag fourth on the grid, equalling the best qualifying position of his career. Albon managed a clean final lap but could only take sixth, Ricciardo beating him to fifth by five-hundredths of a second.

The McLaren pair fell to ninth and 10th with their final runs behind Leclerc’s Ferrari and Kvyat in the second AlphaTauri.

Top ten in Q3

1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’13.609
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’13.706
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1’14.176
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1’14.502
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1’14.520
6 Alexander Albon Red Bull-Honda 1’14.572
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’14.616
8 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1’14.696
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1’14.814
10 Carlos Sainz Jnr McLaren-Renault 1’14.911

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2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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59 comments on “Bottas takes Imola pole position from Hamilton on final lap”

  1. Can we just agree better needs to retire

  2. Quite impressive by Max. With just 1 run left in Q2 due to engine hiccups, he put the mediums on still. And delivered.

    The boy feels no pressure.

    Meanwhile Merc in a league of their own like the last 6 years…

    1. Yes, we can only wonder how he beats his teammate and the RP, AT and McLarens each week. The pressure from them must be enormous.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        31st October 2020, 15:38

        Only person under less pressure is Lewis.

        1. I leave it to croft and co to suggest Ham, Bottas and Max are under any sort of pressure to get into Q3 when they only have the one run. Although I suppose there are some who think its something special.

          1. Verstappen is under a lot more pressure than Mercedes drivers because of the simple fact that his car is significantly inferior

          2. @kingshark

            MAX is under no pressure to beat Merc–we all know his car isn’t quick enough.

          3. @amam
            And yet he still occasionally beats them

            His drive at the 70th anniversary GP was easily the best win of the season by a mile.

          4. @kingshark the critical aspect here is the performance delta between Red Bull and the rest of the field in the Q2 qualifying scenario though, not that between Red Bull and Mercedes – that was what was driving their tactics in that session.

            What the team was focussed on was whether their car still had enough of a performance advantage over those midfield drivers to use the medium tyres, and the answer was yes – Red Bull did still have a fairly comfortable performance advantage and could get through to the next session on harder tyres when the rest were on softs.

  3. Great Q, I wish I had watched it. I only saw the times tower and sponsor logos. I think Aston Martin got 3rd, Petronas 1-2.

    1. Don’t forget that we only got to see Bottas’ final run, despite there being 9 other cars doing their final run at the same time.

  4. And people said the championship was over.

    1. Pardon???

    2. The F1.5 or F1B or whatever is called, is pretty much on fire!

  5. A round of applause for the RBR mechanics. Very good job from Russel to beat a Racing Point. Overall a shortened practice session turned out to be good so far. Top 3 are as expected.
    Italy has beautiful racing tracks and its great to see them live. Interesting to know that US was the only other country to host three F1 races in a session.

  6. Fair play to Max and Red Bull today, both did superbly. However…I’ll pull you up on the Max “feels no pressure…” comment. He hasn’t had any real pressure for us to gauge this. Dont get me wrong, The guy is a top drawer driver but the pressure situations are still an unknown. He has never been in a championship battle for instance. That is when we will see how he handles “pressure”. For now he can drive the wheels of his car with zero consequence. When you are as good as Max driving with little at stake can really make you shine. He’s always in a win win situation. He’s not expected to win so…what the hell… go for it. That’s not pressure.

    1. Meant as reply to trib4udi

    2. He has never been in a championship battle for instance.

      Wrong, again.
      He was World champion karting.. no pressure there of course ;)

  7. I think Lewis mostly lost it in the first sector on his final run. Valterri was a tenth faster there…I dont quite remember how close he was to lewis on the track or whether he got a tow.

    1. It happens in sport. No reason to be a sore loser.
      Pretty sure Hamilton will beat Bottas in the race.

      1. Not sure about who’s being a sore loser there. I was just mentioning that Bottas was very quick in the first sector and perhaps that made the difference.

      2. Sore loser doesn’t see the irony

  8. I’m not a fan of this 2 day format so far as it feels like i’ve seen hardly any running on what is one of my favourite circuits.

    I’d usually use the 2 Friday sessions to just watch the cars, Go through some of the OnBoard feeds, Analyse & compare what everyone is doing, How each car is handling, Look for upgrades & how they are working. But the single session today felt like it went by so quickly & then we went straight into qualifying so it’s sort of felt like i’ve had no time to take anything in or really enjoy watching F1 cars lap one of my favourite circuits for the 1st time in 14 years.

    1. I agree. Friday sessions are a great way to establish driver progress, car development, race speed etc. This seems to be a dumbing down of the race weekend to firstly, try and slow Merc down and secondly, accommodate the “casual fan”. Neither of which sit comfortably with me.

      1. You want more practice time?
        And less races?

        This weekend’s two-day format is neither to slow Merc down nor to accommodate the ‘casual fan’.
        Limited time between events and local noise restrictions, I believe…
        But feel free to blame people who prefer different aspects of F1 if you must.

        1. S, there have been a lot of people complaining that the calendar is being oversaturated with races – and, whilst this may be specifically because of noise restrictions this weekend, the attitude is that this is a trial for putting even more races on the calendar in the future and cutting the length of the race weekend to cram more in.

          1. Go for it then – 2 day weekends forever. Welcome to the new F1.
            Literally everything else in F1 has changed since 1950, why not this too?
            Did they do 3 day events back then? I doubt it.

          2. S, yes, they have always run three day events because, up until 1996, it was directly linked to the way in which qualifying operated.

            From 1950 until 1996, you had two qualifying sessions, one on Friday and one on Saturday, with the grid being set by the best time that the drivers achieved in either of those two sessions – therefore, it was always necessary to run three day events at a minimum.

      2. I think the two day weekends have been pretty good. It gives a greater advantage to teams that are good at setup because there is less time, which means having the most intelligent strategists and engineers becomes more important, surely a good thing.

        1. @f1frog If 2 day weekends do start to become the norm then it’s just going to give the advantage to those who have the best simulation tools which will be the top teams.

          Smaller teams & especially any new teams & new drivers will just end up at a greater disadvantage.

          And as a fan who actually enjoys attending race weekends them cutting to 2 days with maybe under 4 hours of track running immediately makes it significantly less value on top of taking away what is by far the best part of the weekend. With 3 hours practice on Fridays you can walk the circuit & get to watch cars from different parts of the track & that experience is for me by far the best part of the weekend. You don’t have time to do that with a single session on Saturday on top of tending to want to get a seat & settling in ready for qualifying where you want to sit & pay attention to times & stuff.

          If they were to ditch Friday & have just a single 60-90 minute session on Saturday then I can’t see myself attending any more F1 weekends, Just wouldn’t be worth the cost for so little running with the best part of the weekend no longer part of it.

          Fans already have less opportunities than ever before to go & actually see the cars in action thanks to the testing ban, Reducing those opportunities further is not a positive in my view. And consider this also, Friday tickets can be quite a bit cheaper than Saturday/Sunday tickets so for a lot of people Friday practice is there only opportunity to see F1 cars in action.

          Indycar still does a fair bit of testing & have 3 day weekends on Road/Street circuits so you have plenty of opportunities to watch them for not a great deal of money (Some test’s are even free admission as the old F1 private test’s often were). Perhaps this is why Indycar is growing as F1 is declining, It’s easier to sell a series more people can actually go & watch for themselves as that is how you get the best appreciation for how amazing these cars are.

        2. @f1frog, so logically a 1 day format would be an even better thing !?

  9. Great job Valetti!

  10. I know gasly is performing very well this season, but the alpha tuari seems suspiciously fast this race….

  11. Where’s Lewis? Maybe all that apologising from Norris slowed him down a little…

    1. So still can’t give credit to Bottas? Doesn’t surprise me.

    2. Looks like he tried slowed down to acknowledge Norris’ apologies by being side-by-side, but wasn’t slow enough. ;-)

  12. The curbing has generally been the reference for track limits wherever possible, so pointless to suddenly change it for these two events only to go back on it later in the event. Just stick to the curbing consistently as before.

    1. @jerejj Gotta appease Croft who does love to go on & on about track limits even when they are been monitored.

      I think he spent more time whining about track limits today than actually commentating on what was on screen.

    2. Or just use the white line that is consistently painted at every circuit in the world.
      Using kerbs as track limits is inconsistent and confusing. Especially so when only some corners have kerbs or different limits.

  13. Get in there Valtteri!

    Max the star of qualifying to get a comfortable 3rd after all his mechanical issues.

    81 front row lock outs now for Mercedes in the hybrid era! 11 front row lock outs in 13 races in 2020. The best team of all time.

    Ferrari could only manage 15 front row lock out 2000-04.

    1. The Red Bull mechanics are the stars of qualifying for fixing a spark plug in five minutes. They are surely the best on the grid at working quickly under pressure, with this impressive performance as well as the one in Hungary. Max does deserve credit though for going against the team’s instructions and pitting when he felt the problem, as this gave them enough time to fix it.

      1. But I agree that this Mercedes team is the best of all time. As well as producing the fastest car for seven years in a row, they also have extremely few mechanical failures and come up with extra innovative additions to their car, such as DAS, which have to be banned to stop them being too dominant. Mercedes’ dominance has made F1 less exciting (although 2020 is the best season since 2012 in my opinion), but it is fully deserved.

      2. @f1frog as you say, the real credit should be going to the mechanics for getting Max out there in the first place – but that would require him to acknowledge the ability of the team, and he cannot do that because it then spoils the hero worship narrative he is utterly addicted to that worships Max and requires him to constantly denigrate Red Bull.

        1. What utter nonsense… he always thanks the team. These anti-Max sentiments are getting beyond ridiculous…

          1. Search, on the contrary, David Bondo has frequently bashed the team for producing a terrible car, complained that Adrian Newey is past it and called for him to be fired and moaned about their strategies.

            The post below is the first time on this site he has said anything complimentary about Red Bull at all – it’s usually moaning about how the car is so slow and only the fifth or sixth fastest, and all performance is credited to Max Verstappen, usually with a snide remark about how the team is underperforming.

            Incidentally, you are attacking me for “anti-Max sentiments”, but my post is not attacking Max – it is attacking the type of obsessive fan that worships drivers unthinkingly and uncritically. I have criticised fans who have behaved in the same way to other drivers as well – you are the one who has read it as an attack on Max, when I am attacking David Bondo’s blind hero worship of Max.

          2. @anon

            Search, on the contrary, David Bondo has frequently bashed the team for producing a terrible car, complained that Adrian Newey is past it and called for him to be fired and moaned about their strategies.

            These are utter lies. It’s the second time you have flagrantly lied about me. I hope you have simply confused me for someone else rather than maliciously lied.

        2. Verstappen could have got all down in the face like other drivers do but he got back out there and delivered.

          No doubt the RBR crew (and team) are world class. Unfortunately up against a constant engine deficit going on 7 seasons now.

          Mercedes in another league. 81 front row lockouts now in the hybrid era.

  14. I liked the qualifying today. Every1 was generally close amd competitive within their groupings. What happened to force india though

  15. Nice response by Albon to be ‘only’ 0.4s off, and great pace by the AlphaTauris. I wonder why they were so quick this time.

    Keith: Can we have the visual gaps for qualifying too please.

  16. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    31st October 2020, 16:47

    In Portugal he was 6th and 0.533 behind and was lapped in the race.

    Albon is now 6th and 0.396 behind so will finish 55 seconds behind Max.

  17. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    31st October 2020, 16:50

    To whom it may concern… Well, it mostly concerns you Valtteri! Well done!

  18. Well, that was a very disappointed Lewis.. took him some time in his helmet to recover.
    It’s a pity he did not gave Valtteri the credit he deserved for this.. blaming himself for a bad lap..

    1. Do you actually watch the interviews? Here– educate yourself a little.

  19. Great qualifying session – amazing to see Russell and Gasley where they are.

    My only complsint is the camera work/angles. Why do they follow the cars so closely and mainly on the side? The direction changes are phenomenal around this track but we are not getting to see them. Theres also a fair bit of elevation change too – but we’re not seeing that either.

    Keith can we have a feature about camera work and camera men and find out their brief, limitations and technology they have. I watch on C4 and amazed how they edit and put together such a slick show in a short amount of time.

    1. It’s done because the closer angles give a better sensation of speed & make the cars look a lot more dynamic.

      For years people have complained the cameras were too wide & that cars were been made to look slow/less impressive.

      The closer angles was a hallmark of the highly popular digital+ service that FOM used to produce (which fans still complement today) & this is simply them going back to that style of coverage. getting back to making the cars look fast & alive again & i welcome the change.

      1. I disagree – close up half the time you don’t even know they are in a corner.

      2. @Racingdave @roger-ayles I rather think they have no idea, and just want to impress with their zoom and follow skills. There’s plenty of other sports where the action is similarly missed because of this obsession, and I’ve seen others complain about this type of camerawork, so I very much doubt people have been complaining about too wide angles.

        I bet I can go back just this season and find several passes that have been completely missed because the cameras was not zoomed out enough. Also a lot is missed when showing replays of the start too early, or the endless pit-lane shots etc. Basically F1 TV-production has been atrocious from the beginning, and still far away from being Ok.

        And if there’s any direction, it’s FOM asking the producers to show the logos which means even more close-ups.

  20. Not sure how HAM can manage to win starting all the way back in P2?

    Why does the track cleaning crew use brooms to clear the gravel? My backpack leaf blower is very effective in clearing acorns off my driveway.

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