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Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Qualifying team notes - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
18/05/2024

Max Verstappen secured pole position for the Gran Premio del Made in Italy e dell'Emilia-Romagna, thus equalling two important records: one for the most consecutive pole positions (8) which he now holds with Ayrton Senna and the one for the most consecutive poles at the start of the season (7) thus joining Alain Prost. The Red Bull driver now has a total of 39 poles while his team is on 102.

Qualifying was very closely contested with the top three all within 91 thousandths of a second of one another, very evenly matched in Q1 (the top 10 in 0"342) and the Q2 runners who made it to Q3 (in 0"515). Starting alongside Max (1'14"746) on the grid should have been the McLaren of Oscar Piastri (1'14"820) but the Australian has the Sword of Damocles hanging over him in the shape of a penalty for having impeded Kevin Magnussen in Q1. If it is confirmed then his team-mate Lando Norris (1'14"837) will inherit second place. The McLaren pair finished ahead of the two Ferraris with Charles Leclerc (1'14"970) ahead of Carlos Sainz (1'15"233).

As was the case yesterday, today the temperatures were quite high, with the air oscillating between 28C and 30C, with the track hitting a maximum of 53C at the end of FP3, before coming down to 44C by the end of qualifying. The wind changed direction compared to yesterday and diminished in strength, making life a bit more straightforward for the drivers, as they suffered less with car instability.

In FP3 some teams also worked towards the race, either running a heavy fuel load or putting in a run of consecutive laps. With Ferrari tackling Q1 on the C4, it was possible to confirm the performance difference between the Medium and Soft, which was the same as yesterday, around the half second mark. Finally, it is worth noting that the pole position time was over eight tenths quicker than that predicted by the simulations provided by the teams (1'15"700).

The Pirelli Pole Position Award was presented to Verstappen by Joshua Zirkzee, Bologna FC's Dutch forward. In 2017, Joshua joined Bayern Munich's academy, making his debut with the first team two years later. Then for the past two seasons, he has played for Bologna in Italy's Serie A, the team qualifying for next year's Champions League for the first time since its only previous appearance in the competition, sixty years ago.

Mario Isola: "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."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Imola here.

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