Further back, Sebastian Vettel was just over three-tenths adrift of his team-mate in Q2, which translated to 14th on tomorrow’s grid, behind George Russell who put together another superb lap. The good news for Russell fans is that the talk of Perez in his seat for 2021 has abated, with Williams acting team principal Simon Roberts confirming both his current drivers for next year at Imola.
“I’m quite happy with the gap to Max,” said sixth-quickest Albon, “Another tenth would have been P4.” Which was true enough, but that gap to Verstappen was still 0.4sec and whether that’s close enough for Red Bull remains to be seen.
Christian Horner said in Portugal that a decision on his team’s 2021 driver line-up would likely be made in two or three weeks and so, after a tricky Portimao, Albon needs to deliver at Imola. With stories elsewhere suggesting that Verstappen supports Nico Hülkenberg’s candidacy for a Red Bull seat to best fight Mercedes in 2021, time could be running out for Alex.
If Albon does lose out, it would be fascinating to see a head-to-head with Gasly at AlphaTauri which might just confirm that, as many suspect, Verstappen could be Senna-quick and four-tenths faster than anyone! Honda protégé Yuki Tsunoda continues to be mentioned for AlphaTauri too, despite Honda pulling out at the end of next year.
In papaya orange, meanwhile, it was Lando Norris’s turn to get the better of Carlos Sainz this time, by a tenth, as the Woking cars closed out the top 10.
It is pretty much a formality that Mercedes will seal a new record seventh consecutive constructors’ championship win tomorrow (they currently share six with Ferrari’s 1999-2004 run) as Red Bull needs to outscore them by 35 points to prevent it. And it looks unlikely that anyone driving anything other than a Merc will win the race. But while Imola has hosted some fairly soporific races over time, let’s just hope that Lewis is wrong about this one!
2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix qualifying results
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1min 13.609sec|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1min 13.706sec|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1min 14.176sec|
|4||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||1min 14.502sec|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||1min 14.520sec|
|6||Alex Albon||Red Bull||1min 14.572sec|
|7||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||1min 14.616sec|
|8||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri||1min 14.696sec|
|9||Lando Norris||McLaren||1min 14.814sec|
|10||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||1min 14.911sec|
|11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||1min 15.061sec|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Renault||1min 15.201sec|
|13||George Russell||Williams||1min 15.323sec|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1min 15.385sec|
|15||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||1min 15.494sec|
|16||Romain Grosjean||Haas||1min 15.918sec|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1min 15.939sec|
|18||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo||1min 15.953sec|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||1min 15.987sec|
|20||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1min 16.208sec|