Emilia Romagna GP: Lewis Hamilton edges Sergio Perez to claim first-ever Imola pole

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Lewis Hamilton edged out Sergio Perez in qualifying in Imola as his first lap time in the final shootout proved enough to claim pole for the first time this season and his first pole ever at this particular circuit.

The Mercedes-Red Bull battle is nicely poised for another weekend after a fantastic opening race in Bahrain, with Max Verstappen lining up behind title rival Hamilton in third place.

Valtteri Bottas struggled for Merc, though, only managing eighth whilst other standout performances came from Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Esteban Ocon.

How it unfolded...

Q1

Across Friday practice and in the session on Saturday morning, we saw a number of spins and cars getting out of control and, unfortunately for Yuki Tsunoda, that trend continued in qualifying.

The Japanese rookie dropped his AlphaTauri into the wall on the exit of Variante Alta, red flagging the session and leaving him to contend with a start at the rear of the field on Sunday.

Just in front of him tomorrow will be the two Haas cars of Nikita Mazepin, who's made several mistakes throughout the weekend, and Mick Schumacher, whilst the Alfa Romeo pair of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen sit another row in front, with them lacking pace all weekend so far.

Q2

Into the second section of qualifying, it was more disappointment for fans of Italian teams as Carlos Sainz dropped out in his Ferrari, managing only 11th, with him only just ahead of George Russell, who put in a stellar performance in his Williams.

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Sebastian Vettel will start 13th whilst Nicholas Latifi starts 14th and Fernando Alonso 15th - this being the first race where the Spaniard has been out-qualified by an F1 teammate since Malaysia in 2017. 

Q3

Finally into Q3 and Lewis Hamilton's first lap time was enough for him to secure his first pole of the season - less than a tenth ahead of a resurgent Sergio Perez.

Indeed, the Red Bull driver really did pull one out of the bag after a tough Saturday in Bahrain, beating teammate Max Verstappen into third with the Dutchman running slightly wide on his final run,

In fourth, another top performance from Charles Leclerc to give Ferrari hope for a strong points finish again, whilst Pierre Gasly underlined the continued improvement of AlphaTauri in fifth.

Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth ahead of Lando Norris, who had a time deleted for second place after exceeding track limits, whilst it was a Saturday to forget for Valtteri Bottas in eighth.

Rounding out the top 10, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll.

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Full classification

Hamilton

Perez

Verstappen

Leclerc

Gasly

Ricciardo

Norris

Bottas

Ocon

Stroll

Sainz

Russell

Vettel

Latifi

Alonso

Raikkonen

Giovinazzi

Schumacher

Mazepin

Tsunoda

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