World Champion Lewis Hamilton claimed his fourth successive pole position, and seventh of the 2020 Formula 1 campaign, at the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix.
Hamilton had trailed Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas throughout practice but eclipsed his team-mate in Q2 and preserved an advantage in Q3.
Hamilton clocked a time of 1:15.144 to front Bottas by just 0.059s after the opening runs around the high-speed Mugello circuit.
The Briton did not improve on his second run but Bottas’ prospects were thwarted when he had to back off due to Esteban Ocon’s spin at Turn 3.
It marked the 95th pole position of Hamilton’s career.
Max Verstappen re-emerged as Mercedes’ primary challenger, after his and Red Bull’s Monza dip, as he finished within four-tenths of Hamilton.
Alexander Albon again trailed Verstappen by a sizeable margin but such was Red Bull’s gap to the midfield that he was assured of a solid fourth.
Leclerc salvages Ferrari pride
Ocon’s Q3 error scuppered the second push laps for several drivers but it aided Charles Leclerc, who was once again Ferrari’s saviour.
Sebastian Vettel managed only 14th but Leclerc progressed to Q3 and qualified fifth, boosting Ferrari’s hopes of a decent display on home soil.
Racing Point took sixth and seventh, with Sergio Perez in front of Lance Stroll, but their positions will be reversed owing to Perez’s one-place demotion for a practice transgression.
Daniel Ricciardo was eighth, in front of Carlos Sainz, with Ocon at the foot of Q3 after his spin.
Norris’ first Q2 exit of 2020
Lando Norris had made Q3 at each event this season but his run came to an end at Mugello.
Norris, who crashed on Friday, qualified only 11th, one spot behind team-mate Sainz in the second knockout segment.
Daniil Kvyat had an excursion through Savelli on his way to 12th place while Kimi Raikkonen set an identical time to the Russian and will start from 13th spot.
Haas’ Romain Grosjean made it through to Q2 but was comfortably slowest in the session.
From P1 to Q1
Pierre Gasly has been on a strong run of form, culminating in his famous shock victory at Monza, as he rose from 10th on the grid to win.
He had been a top 10 contender all weekend but struggled in qualifying and was dumped out in Q1 for the first time in over a year.
Antonio Giovinazzi once more failed to make it through to Q2 but narrowly beat both Williams drivers, as George Russell preserved his unbeaten record against team-mates.
Russell had lagged behind Nicholas Latifi through the first two runs – with Williams adopting a three-run plan – but improved on his last effort despite a wild moment through Savelli as he dipped a wheel into the gravel.
Kevin Magnussen was slowest for Haas, just 0.028s behind Latifi, amid a tight conclusion to Q1.
Sunday’s 59-lap Tuscan Grand Prix is scheduled for 15:10 local time.
|3||M. Verstappen||Red Bull||1:15.509||0.365|
|4||A. Albon||Red Bull||1:15.954||0.810|
|6||S. Perez*||Racing Point||1:16.311||1.167|
|7||L. Stroll||Racing Point||1:16.356||1.212|
|13||K. Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:16.854|
|17||A. Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:17.220|