What the teams said – Qualifying in Imola

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 18: Oscar Piastri of Australia driving the (81) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes in the

Red Bull

Red Bull finally found a set-up more to their liking ahead of qualifying, which catapulted their drivers back up the order. But while Verstappen sailed serenely all the way to Q3, Perez didn’t do likewise. He rued using an extra set of tyres in Q1, leaving him short in Q2. Going out on used tyres at the start of Q2 disrupted his rhythm, leading to his lowest starting grid slot of the year. As for Verstappen, he might have picked up a fortuitous tow in Q3 from Hulkenberg, but he still nailed both his final laps to grab a seventh straight pole this season, and eighth including Abu Dhabi last year.

READ MORE: Verstappen hails last-minute set-up changes after claiming surprise Imola pole and equalling Senna’s record

Max Verstappen, 1st, 1:14.746

“It was a really rewarding pole today and everything ended up coming together for qualifying. This weekend has been tough and we have been lacking pace and balance within the car, however we kept on working at it and trying to improve. When we went into qualifying, the balance of the car felt a lot better, so it was a great turnaround. Honestly it is just a fantastic track and I wish we had more of those on the calendar. It felt unbelievable to drive a qualifying lap here; there are a few old school tracks that we have remaining on the calendar which are really exciting and what I fell in love with when I started watching and racing in Formula One. McLaren is looking strong but with the changes that we made on the car, it should be better for the race tomorrow. I feel a little less prepared than I would like to be going into the race and we don’t expect it to be easy, but we are going to give it a good go. It is special and a proud moment to receive eight poles in a row, especially as we have been having a tough weekend. It was a whole team effort but we managed to bring it together today. Very happy!"

Sergio Perez, 11th, 1:15.706

“It hasn’t been a very smooth weekend overall, and we’ve been playing quite a bit with the car and we just weren’t able to maximize in qualifying. In Q1 my lap wasn’t good enough and we went out on a new set, which means we started Q2 on a scrubbed set. On my final lap in Q2 I lacked rear grip in Turn 7 and locked up which cost me two and half tenths which would have easily put me into Q3, so I think we had the pace to be a lot higher up. We’ve made some good progress with the car as Max showed, but unfortunately from my side I didn’t get the chance to show that in Q3. We will see what we will be able to do come race day as Imola is one of the hardest tracks to overtake on, but I hope that we can be strong tomorrow and the main target will be to minimize the issues we had today and to have a good, solid race."

Christian Horner, Team Principal

"It was an outstanding Saturday here in Imola, especially after we struggled yesterday. The team did a really good job overnight, with Seb Buemi, Jake Dennis and everyone in Milton Keynes working into the early hours on the simulator, and we kept improving the car as we saw the results of in Q3. Max had to deliver and he really pulled it out of the bag with a great performance, and you can tell how much it meant to him to be on pole today. That’s 8 poles in a row, equalling the great Ayrton Senna and doing it here in Imola making it all the more poignant. Checo wasn’t as fortunate and he lost a bit of time in the first and second chicanes which then put some pressure on the rest of his lap, he recovered some time but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough and he narrowly missed Q3. All to play for tomorrow as we head into race day in Imola."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 18: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 18, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


Piastri topped FP3 from his team mate, and McLaren certainly looked to be favourites for pole heading into qualifying. Both drivers made it all the way to Q3, but they just couldn’t match Verstappen when it mattered. Norris pushed him closest on the opening runs, then Piastri did so on the second lap to pip his team mate, but they were just short of pole out there. But the Australian was called in to see the stewards to explain a moment of blocking in Q1 where he seemed to baulk Magnussen, and was handed a three-place grid drop as a result. That promotes his team mate to the front row.

READ MORE: Piastri says ‘confidence is high’ for what McLaren can achieve in Imola after narrowly missing out on pole

Lando Norris, 3rd, 1:14.837

"As a team we’ve had a very good day – and a good weekend so far. P3 is not a bad job at all and both of us are within a tenth of pole - tiny, tiny margins. Oscar's done a great job, and so did Max. It’s going to be a good race tomorrow. It’ll be exciting in the car and hopefully exciting to watch. A lot of it will be down to Turn 1, Lap 1, getting the right strategy, and having good pit stops. We're close, it’s very exciting and I can't wait for tomorrow.”

Oscar Piastri, 2nd, 1:14.820

“I’m really happy with the performance today. We were so close to pole on track. I've been really comfortable with the car from the moment we put it on track yesterday and I am enjoying my first GP weekend here. We've definitely been on the pace all weekend and the confidence is high. It is a shame to lose the front row and having to start from P5 as it’s not the easiest track to overtake on. However, we will try our best to recover some positions and fight to finish on the podium."

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“After a strong performance in Miami, it was important to confirm that competitiveness was genuine. Imola has very different demands, with a fast-flowing layout and a bumpy surface. It’s a big positive that we have also been competitive here, and able to fight for pole position today.”

“We had a very strong result in Qualifying. Both drivers performed very well, and we were close to Red Bull, which is encouraging. Unfortunately, Oscar will start P5 after receiving a penalty. We respect and accept the decision of the stewards and, with a strong pace in the car, we look forward to recovering those lost positions with Oscar, while capitalising on Lando’s front row start.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 18: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 18, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


Ferrari looked to be in the fight for pole today, so confident that they used mediums in Q1 to get through. But despite having two bites at the cherry on fresh softs in Q3, they couldn’t match the might of the McLarens and Verstappen. Leclerc at least grabbed a slot on the second row, but Sainz will be disappointed to be close to half a second off Verstappen’s pole time – on a day where more looked possible. But thanks to Piastri's penalty, both at least move forward one slot.

READ MORE: Leclerc feels rivals ‘hid their game’ as Ferrari slip back in Imola qualifying but insists ‘target remains to win’

Charles Leclerc, 4th, 1:14.970

"We didn’t achieve our target today and we have to look in to where we can improve for the upcoming races, given that in the past few we have had the most margin for improvement in the first sector during qualifying. Our competitors seem to have been holding back on their full potential until today and their step was bigger than ours from yesterday to today. Our upgrade package is working as expected and it will take a few sessions to find the optimal window where we can extract the most performance. Our strength this year has been our race pace and we will give everything in the race tomorrow to make our tifosi proud."

Carlos Sainz, 5th, 1:15.233

"We knew that coming here it would be very tight. I struggled to be consistent with the Soft and didn’t do my best Quali to be honest, but we are still in a decent position to fight tomorrow and although overtaking in Imola is not easy, it can also be a race full of opportunities and we need to be fully focused. We’ll fight right to the chequered flag to put on a great show for our tifosi and hopefully thank them for their support with a good team result."

Fred Vasseur, Team Principal

"We knew it would be a tough and tight session, where one tenth could have made the difference for many places and it was the case. Unfortunately today we were at the back of that “one-tenth” group. Overall it was quite a strange qualifying: we were competitive in the practice sessions and also this afternoon until Q3, where we did not progress as expected. We cannot be happy with the final outcome as here overtaking is quite difficult and I would have preferred to have been further up the grid, but we also have to consider that the gap between us and McLaren is very tight.

"The most important day is tomorrow when we will be looking to score as many points as possible. Last year we were used to having good Saturdays and then struggling a bit on the Sunday and this season so far it has generally been the opposite. Looking at the race pace it seems that we are quite ok with it and I hope we can give our tifosi an interesting race. They have supported us come what may and they deserve a good result."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 18: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-24 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 18, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Mercedes split strategies in Q1, sending Russell out on mediums and Hamilton on the softs. But Russell soon swapped to the softs, and that left the duo needing to run on used softs in Q2. Both were in trouble with the clock ticking down, but managed to scrape through to Q3. Once there they just didn’t have the pace to fight for the front rows, although Russell came agonisingly close to Sainz – winding up just 0.001s back on the Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton, 8th, 1:15.504

"The car felt really good on Friday but today, I was struggling to find that same level of grip. It was frustrating and I think the small changes we made going into Qualifying had quite a big impact. George did a great job though and for him to be only four tenths off pole is clearly a good step forward for us. Unfortunately I was just lacking some pace so couldn’t quite match that.

"Tomorrow we are likely looking at trying to make up a few positions. We will do some work tonight to see if we can improve anything but it’s very hard to overtake here so, unless something out of the ordinary happens, we will only be able to make small gains."

George Russell, 6th, 1:15.234

"I was very happy with my final effort in Q3. It was a really strong lap and overall, it was a good session from my point of view. It is obviously annoying when you are one millisecond behind one of your competitors, but I think that was the maximum we had today. I think P6 is therefore a fair result. It is very difficult to pass here so unfortunately, I’m not forecasting lots of overtakes tomorrow. I hope to be proven wrong though and we can gain some positions.

"The car is feeling much better than it has done in recent races. Of course it is all about lap times, so we just need to keep working away and improving. We’ve seen how others have progressed and that gives us encouragement."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"When you look at the gap to the front, and our closest competitors around us, you can see progress. P6 and P8 are not the positions we want to be. We’ve been saying that for a while, but we can see the advantage others have closing. It takes time to do that, so we must be patient and that’s the reality at the moment.

"We know we have developments in the pipeline that will improve the balance of the car. Even though our positions today are not good enough, we are pointing in the right direction. Tomorrow, we will be focused on maximising the package we currently have and aiming to score some decent points."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"We've worked hard to try and close the gap to the front over the last few races. Encouragingly, there are signs we're making progress, but we know we’ve still got a long way to go. Neither driver had two new sets of the Soft tyre left by Q3. This may have cost each a place on tomorrow's grid when you look at how close the gaps are to the cars ahead. Ultimately though, P6 and P8 are about where our current pace is. It is encouraging that the car’s balance around the lap has been improved this weekend.

"We will now have to wait and see where the pace falls out in the race tomorrow. There did look to be some tyre degradation on Friday, so that should help create some opportunity. It is difficult to overtake here at Imola though so it will likely take some good fortune for us to be challenging for the podium spots."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 18: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 18, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)


Tsunoda has looked fast all the way through the weekend, so it was no surprise to see him make it to Q3. What was surprising was his confidence in Q2 in not going out for a late run – and the fact that he was disappointed with his eventual seventh, feeling far more was possible out there. Seventh is still a strong starting slot, which coupled with Ricciardo’s ninth marks a very impressive day for RB at their home race.

FACTS AND STATS: Tsunoda bags best qualifying of the year, as RB get two cars into Q3 at their home race

Daniel Ricciardo, 9th, 1:15.674

“It was a really good and positive day from a team’s point of view. We are happy as both of us managed to get into Q3. Yuki’s doing a good job and he’s driving well all weekend, feeling really comfortable in the car from FP1. Qualifying was a better session for me, we made some progress from the start of the weekend as we were struggling a bit more than Yuki. In every lap I did, I was always trying to find a bit more here and there, but the first sector is still the part where I’m struggling quite a lot. That’s where the lap got away from me but we’ll keep looking at it tonight to understand more, and I’ll work on it. We’re in a good place and I’m happy and comfortable in the car for the rest of the lap, so it’s a matter of figuring out what I can do better mainly there. We made some improvements but still not enough to fight those guys a bit further up. Looking at tomorrow, we’re in the first half of the grid which is good, so we’ll try to look at some points by the end of the race. It would be good if both of us get points tomorrow for the home race of the team, so let’s do that!”

Yuki Tsunoda, 7th, 1:15.465

“Congrats to the team, and Daniel as well. We’re showing how much pace the car has, and I think the amount of work the people are doing in the factory is more than we think, so they deserve the credit. We didn’t expect this much performance but the team is working really hard to develop our car and their effort is massive, more than I can imagine, and it’s paying off because the car is consistently performing really well. As a "new" team with many new people, we needed time to blend together and now everyone’s working well and we don’t make many mistakes. They definitely deserve the results and I’m super appreciative of the team for giving me such a nice car, especially at our home race in front of our factory people in the grandstand. For myself, to be honest, I’m not entirely happy because I didn’t manage to give the maximum in Q3 today, but I think until then it was pretty good. It was the first time I was able to get through Q2 with one set and that’s definitely a positive. In Q3, the laps I did weren’t amazing, I was expecting more and I could’ve done better. As a driver, it’s always frustrating when you don’t put it all together and there is time left on the table. In saying that, this week has been pretty solid so far, so we’ll focus on extracting the maximum performance and finishing strong with both cars tomorrow!”

Alan Permane, Racing Director

“A very good day for us. I think Yuki actually finished the session a little frustrated because he went quicker in Q2 than Q3, but nevertheless, a great effort from everybody here and back at both our bases to deliver a car that’s capable of getting both cars into Q3. It’s Daniel’s first Q3 of the season, and I’m sure it’s the first of many more. We have a good sensible plan of what we’re doing tomorrow. We’re in front of our closest competitors and the aim tomorrow is to of course bring both cars home in the points and consolidate our position in the championship.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 18: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB prepares to drive in the garage during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 18, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)


It was another mixed bag for Haas in Imola. Hulkenberg continued his fine run of qualifying form, making it all the way to Q3. While he wound up 10th, he played an important role overall as he gave Verstappen a bit of a tow that may have made the difference for the Dutchman out there. As for Magnussen, he exited in Q1 after feeling he was impeded by Piastri’s McLaren. He had to catch a moment of understeer after finding the dirty air behind the McLaren, throwing his hands in the air in frustration.

Nico Hulkenberg, 10th, 1:15.980

“It’s definitely good to be inside the top 10 again. I’m not entirely happy with Q3 on the final lap unfortunately but it is pretty nip and tuck over a quali lap here in Imola. I enjoyed it so we’ll take this today and we’ll obviously try to defend that position tomorrow. Yesterday, our long-run data looked okay and I think we saw that all the midfield teams are very close together. Racing could be quite static, hence qualifying today and track position is all the more important here.”

Kevin Magnussen, 18th, 1:16.854

“I don’t know what’s going on this year, but it keeps happening and eventually it’s got to stop. We don’t seem to be doing anything different compared to others in terms of timings, but out of seven qualifying sessions, we’ve had traffic in five that’s caused us problems on exactly the lap that needs to count. It’s not an easy track to overtake and it looks like a one-stop race, so we’ll see what happens.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal

“There are mixed feelings really because Kevin had potential. His feelings from FP3 were good, his first run in FP1 was good, and he felt he had a decent chunk of lap time in hand – which I believe. On his lap last, I don’t know what the McLaren was doing in the middle of the track, on their out lap which was going to be too late for a timed lap. It’s very annoying in the sense, because he shouldn’t have been there to start off with and it destroyed Kevin’s qualifying.

“On the flipside, Nico had two very good laps, his Q1 run two and Q2 run two, they were both very clean laps. It’s very difficult here to put a lap together but it was mega. We outqualified both Aston Martins and it’s slightly annoying that both RBs are in front but you can see they’ve been developing their car and they’ve been quick from the start of the weekend. Ultimately, Nico got everything out of it, so it was very good to get into Q3. It shows that our development, although not fully analysed, is working because everyone else is developing and we’re still getting into Q3. Tomorrow we will fight for points.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 18: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 18, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)


Alpine started to drift slowly backwards today, but getting both cars out of Q1 is still a sign of progress from where they started the season. They couldn’t make it to Q3, but Ocon at least has a half decent starting slot for tomorrow’s race at a track where overtaking is tricky at best.

Esteban Ocon, 12th, 1:15.906

“From where we started the weekend with the overall balance and feel of the car, we have made good progress as a team to improve things and put ourselves in the mix for the Grand Prix tomorrow. It has been a tricky weekend and difficult to put a lap together, but we optimised all three Practice sessions and kept the team busy with various changes on set-up. We worked well to improve the car balance and behaviour of the car each session, which is credit to the team. The field was very close - closer than usual on this short circuit - but the lap in the end was not enough to make it into Q3. We need to understand why we cannot make the same jump in performance from Q1 to Q2 that the other teams do, which is something we will continue to evaluate further.”

Pierre Gasly, 15th, 1:16.381

“We had a good start to Qualifying, finishing Q1 comfortably inside the top ten, so it is a pity not to be able to consolidate that through the remainder of the session. In Q2, I had a fairly strong lap through the first two sectors, up until the final couple of corners where I met some traffic. It distracted my line into the corner more than anything, which potentially cost me some lap time and positions. There is obviously some frustration not to put it together in Q2 especially as, like in Miami, we were so close to reaching Q3. The car has felt good all weekend so far and we will push hard to put in a strong performance tomorrow. This is a difficult track for overtaking and we will make sure we are prepared for different scenarios and put ourselves in the mix for points.”

Julian Rouse, Sporting Director

“Today, like at the previous two events, both cars progressed through to Q2 with little issue. We are showing steady signs of progress, especially considering we have carried over the car from the last two events without any significant updates. We have been strong in Q1 at the last two races, which is a positive sign. Our focus is to keep furthering our understanding on how we can maximise performance in Q2 in the same way we are able to in Q1. Such are the fine margins in Qualifying at the moment, these details are extremely beneficial. We are in contention tomorrow starting from twelfth and fifteenth. We raced well in Miami from similar starting spots, and we will assess our options on strategy with the aim of making it back-to-back points scoring finishes.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 18: Pierre Gasly of France and Alpine F1 looks on prior to qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 18, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Alonso had an uncustomary scrappy day. He spun out in FP3, hitting the barriers and needing a new gearbox as a result. His team just about got his car ready for qualifying, but he then ran wide in Q1 through the gravel. With the pressure on, he was called back into the pits with an undisclosed issue, leading to his first Q1 exit of the year. As for Stroll, he did make Q2 but could go no further on a day where Aston Martin fell off the pace.

READ MORE: Alonso braced for ‘extremely tough’ race in Imola on weekend where ‘everything has gone wrong’

Fernando Alonso, 19th, 1:16.917

“It was one of those days where everything went a bit wrong for us. It started with the heavy crash in FP3 and the mechanics did a great job in getting the car ready for Q1. We headed out for Qualifying a few minutes into the session and fueled to do all of Q1. The best lap I managed was when the car was heavier with fuel and then we had to box for an issue at the end of the session just before my final attempt. The car felt quite good in Qualifying and I think there was some more pace in hand, so it was a shame we couldn’t improve my lap-time. It’s very difficult to overtake here and so it’s going to be a tough race, but we should be able to learn lots tomorrow.”

Lance Stroll, 13th, 1:15.992

“It wasn’t the result we were hoping for today; it’s been a bit disappointing. We don’t have the pace we need at the moment, and the incredibly tight field highlights that. I felt like I put a good final lap in, but it just wasn’t enough to get us out of Q2. We’ve got work to do ahead of the race tomorrow.”

Mike Krack, Team Principal

“It has been a challenging day in Imola and we did not have the pace to compete for Q3. We have scored points in all the races so far this year and we will work hard to do the same tomorrow. Lance’s Qualifying session was straightforward with clean and tidy laps, but Fernando was on the back foot after his accident in final practice. I want to recognise the huge effort of the team to repair Fernando’s car. It was a real race against the clock to be ready for Qualifying. Thank you to everybody involved. Now we focus our efforts on the race tomorrow.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 18: A detail view of the car of Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team after he crashed during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 18, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by James Sutton - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Sargeant struggled in Q1, running wide through the gravel on his first run. With it all to do, he ran wide again on his second lap and although that time was deleted, it only cost him P17 as he hadn’t done enough to make it through regardless. Albon did make it to Q2 but didn’t have the pace for more. That’s the fourth race weekend in a row he’s wound up in P14, which seems to be about where Williams are at the moment.

Alex Albon, 14th, 1:16.200

"All weekend, the car has felt great with the balance being where we want it, however going into Qualifying, the track changed for me massively. Ahead of FP3, we tried some slight positive differences with the setup, but in Qualifying the wind picked up and the tyres heated up, so I just lost a lot of lap time on those last two corners. It’s not ideal but I’m generally happy with my lap as I thought I would’ve been out in Q1 with how much the car changed for me in between sessions. The race will be tricky if I’m still struggling in those last corners, so hopefully, the weather will work in our favour tomorrow."

Logan Sargeant, 20th, No time set in Q1

"It’s been a tricky weekend so far. The wind has been changing over the course of the two days and there was a track reset before Qualifying as there was quite a bit less grip than FP3, which was catching people out, including myself. Not every weekend is going to be easy; this track in particular poses a lot of challenges – it’s an old school track so there’s bumps, it’s tight, and it’s fine margins out there. Nonetheless, we’ve stuck with it well and I’ve been improving session after session. I’m focusing on doing my best and we’ll maximise what we can tomorrow."

Sven Smeets, Sporting Director

"After FP3 both drivers were happy with the balance and the setup of the car, but we knew it was going to be very tight in the midfield to get out of Q1. The wind and track conditions changed a bit between FP3 and Qualifying and seemingly not in our favour. Alex just managed to get into Q2 and had a good last lap, but not good enough for Q3. It will be a difficult race tomorrow but there is still a slight chance for a local shower in the later part of the race, so there are still opportunities ahead."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 18: 14th placed qualifier Alexander Albon of Thailand and Williams walks in the Pitlane during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 18, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Kick Sauber

It was not to be for Kick Sauber, who saw both drivers drop out in Q1 for the fourth time this season. Bottas was the pick of the duo, winding up a couple of tenths quicker than his team mate and only missing out on Q2 by 0.022s. But starting so far back, both might be doing a rain dance tomorrow in the hopes of some chaos allowing them to move forwards.

Valtteri Bottas, 16th, 1:16.626

“Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the easiest of weekends so far for us, as we have been lacking a bit of consistency overall. Getting out of Q1 is always tough, especially by such a thin margin; the track has been trickier than usual to drive on so far this weekend, as it has been quite windy and gusty. Overall, it hasn’t been an easy session, and we could have probably extracted a couple hundredths more. On top of that, a sudden gust of tailwind made me lose some time in Turn 12 during my second run. As a positive, our race pace is there: what we would need ahead of tomorrow is some luck and some action in front of us to further progress. It’ll be challenging, but we are ready to take any chance that we could get.”

Zhou Guanyu, 17th, 1:16.834

"Unfortunately, the whole weekend hasn’t been the best so far. I started the day with our new floor, and while we had to make a few changes following FP3 as I was a second behind my teammate, the team did a great job, making sure we were set up for qualifying. It wasn’t an easy session, and I reckon there was more on the table. The upgrade package – even though small – seems to be working and helping us gain more performance. I’m looking forward to tomorrow: it won’t be an easy race with probably lots of teams going for a similar strategy, but it’s a great old-school track where anything can happen, and I am positive that we can make up some positions as done in previous sessions.”

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative

"Today’s qualifying session was a difficult one for the team: at the beginning of Friday’s practice, we struggled to start with the correct baseline setup and in the course of the sessions we couldn’t recover the performance needed to make it into Q2 – something we have to analyse further. If we compare qualifying to FP3, Valtteri didn’t improve from the morning session, and we missed a small gap to Lewis [Hamilton] to enter Q2. Zhou, on the other hand, was able to improve compared to FP3 and get closer to Valtteri’s time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the gap was already quite big, but I am happy to see him closing up and significantly improving his performance. Starting from P16 and P17 makes tomorrow quite difficult: we expect a race that might see lots of teams following a one-stop strategy – but nothing is lost as we’ve seen that the upgrade package we brought to Imola is giving us some improvement. Everyone in the team must work harder than ever to get closer to Q3 and start in a good position to score points.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 18: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Kick Sauber C44 Ferrari on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 18, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)


Mario Isola, Motorsport Director

“Qualifying was very closely contested with the teams evenly matched and, once again Max Verstappen came out on top. Given the very small performance gaps between Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari we can expect an equally close race tomorrow. As for strategy, a one-stop is almost obligatory, because the time taken in pit lane to change tyres is one of the longest of the season at around 28 seconds, and also because overtaking is very difficult, especially as there is only one DRS zone. A further unknown factor is the possibility of the race being neutralised: as we saw today in the F2 and F3 races, the increase in the number of gravel traps inevitably means there is a greater chance of cars getting stuck after going off the track.

"We brought our softest trio of compounds here and the C5 confirmed it performs well over a single flying lap, without needing any particular looking after in terms of preparation. The C3 and C4 appear to be competitive over a long run and, fairly predictably, they will be the most popular choices for the race, with C5 eventually being an option for the closing stages, especially if there is a Safety Car. Those banking on that to happen could decide to start on the Hard to extend the first stint as much as possible, before switching to the Medium or maybe even the Soft.”


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PRACTICE DEBRIEF: Why three – or even four – teams could be fighting for pole and victory in Barcelona