Max Verstappen achieved pole position for Red Bull in a thrilling qualifying session ahead of the inaugural F1 Sprint of 2022 at Imola. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc took P2 after being hampered by red-flag, while Lando Norris managed P3 on the grid for McLaren after a massive crash in the final segment of qualifying of the Emilia Romana Grand Prix.
The McLaren driver was sitting at third after the second red flag of Q3 caused by Valtteri Bottas pulling off the circuit. When the session resumed, Norris made an attempt to improve his time along with his rivals, but soon went off the track at Acque Minerali, spinning into the barriers. That triggered the final red flag, which secured his third position on the grid for the sprint race. Norris was satisfied with securing third but believes there was a potential for more had he not spun off.
"Of course I'm happy – I'm top three, which is quite a surprise for us," he said.
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Despite McLaren having secured third and sixth on the grid for tomorrow’s sprint race, Norris said that the result has more to do with the team making the most of the wet conditions, rather than having turned around their raw performance.
Speaking of of the race, Verstappen set the early benchmark of 1m 27.999s – just as Bottas crashed to introduce the fourth red flag of the afternoon with three minutes remaining in the race. Nearly eight-tenths off, Leclerc had one last chance for provisional pole away from the reigning champion but was left by 0.799s off after the red flag. Kevin Magnussen finished a fine fourth for Haas, and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top five.