Hamilton red hot under the Tuscan sun

Hamilton red hot under the Tuscan sun

MUGELLO (Italy) • The Mugello circuit in the hills of Scarperia is a new setting for Formula One, but yesterday’s qualifying for the Tuscan Grand Prix ended with an all-too-familiar face on pole.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was quickest in Q3 in 1min 15.144sec, five-hundredths of a second faster than teammate Valtteri Bottas.

The second row was filled by the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, the latter with one of his best performances of the season.

It was Hamilton’s seventh pole in eight races this year, as Mercedes continued their dominant run to nine poles out of nine this season with an eighth consecutive front-row lockout.

Bottas had been fastest in all three practice sessions, but he was unable to maintain his superiority over the Briton in the decisive hour – albeit his second run was affected by yellow flags after Esteban Ocon spun in his Renault.

Hosts Ferrari are celebrating their 1,000th F1 race at Mugello but had a mixed afternoon, with Charles Leclerc in fifth spot but Sebastian Vettel starting down the grid in 14th.

“It’s been a very tough weekend,” said Hamilton. “It’s a really challenging circuit. You saw Valtteri was quicker than me all day yesterday and even this morning.

“I’ve been working hard in the background to improve on my lines and set up and the engineers and mechanics did a great job, so finally I got the lap that I needed.

“The track is crazy. You go through Turns 6, 7, 8, 9 at 170-180mph and the G-force we’re pulling is insane, it gets more and more as you go through.”

Bottas felt certain he would have improved his time on his second final run, but for the flags.

“I definitely had more,” he said. “I know I could have done better.”​

    TUSCAN GP GRID

    1ST ROW

    1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes

    2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes

    2ND ROW

    3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull

    4 Alex Albon (Tha) Red Bull

    3RD ROW

    5 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 6 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point

    4TH ROW

    7 Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point

    8 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault

    5TH ROW

    9 Carlos Sainz (Esp) McLaren

    10 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Renault

    SELECTED

    11 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren

    14 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari

His despair was a sharp contrast with Leclerc’s delight.

“I’m very happy with the lap overall,” he said. “P5 is higher than our expectations, so we’re very happy.

“Monza and Spa were very disappointing. The balance was good today and gave me confidence. In the end we made it happen.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

F1 TUSCAN GP

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