Formula 1

2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: What the Drivers are Saying after Qualifying

8 Mins read
Photo: Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen took pole position on Saturday for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix by less than a tenth, with the McLaren’s continuing an impressive run of form.

Oscar Piastri qualified in second before dropping to fifth for impeding Kevin Magnussen at Turn Two, while Lando Norris put in the third fastest time but will now start on the front row alongside Verstappen.

Scuderia Ferrari lacked the pace they showed in Friday practice and finished Q3 fourth and fifth. George Russell once again got the better of his teammate and will start sixth – Lewis Hamilton’s best lap was only good enough for eighth. Yuki Tsunoda is having a great weekend so far and will start seventh, while Daniel Ricciardo secured his first top ten start of the year and will begin Sunday’s Grand Prix in ninth. Nico Hülkenberg starts from tenth.

The biggest shocks of the day were undoubtedly from the Oracle Red Ball Racing and the Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team garages. Despite new updates on the car, Fernando Alonso qualified last on the grid and teammate Lance Stroll’s best effort wasn’t good enough to get into the top ten shootout. Sergio Pérez had a difficult day, missing out on Q3 for the first time in 2024.

The drivers have been sharing their thoughts, read what the top ten and Pérez had to say after qualifying from Imola!

Max Verstappen — Oracle Red Bull Racing — 1st

“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!”

Oscar Piastri — McLaren F1 Team — 2nd (5th after a grid penalty for impeding Magnussen)

“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.”

Lando Norris — McLaren F1 Team – 3rd (2nd on the grid due to Piastri’s penalty)

“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.”

Charles Leclerc — Scuderia Ferrari HP — 4th (3rd on the grid due to Piastri’s penalty)

“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 — Scuderia Ferrari HP — 5th (4th on the grid due to Piastri’s penalty)

“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.”

George Russell — Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team — 6th

“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.”

Yuki Tsunoda — Visa Cash App RB — 7th

“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!”

Photo: Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team — 8th

“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.”

Daniel Ricciardo — Visa Cash App RB — 9th

“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!”

Nico Hulkenberg — Haas F1 Team — 10th

“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.”

Sergio Pérez — Oracle Red Bull Racing — 11th

“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.”

Related posts
Formula 1

2024 Spanish Grand Prix: TheCheckeredFlag's Preview

2 Mins read
TheCheckeredFlag looks ahead to the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix and what could be in store this weekend.
Formula 1

Ricciardo in the Spotlight: Montreal Performance and the Road Ahead

6 Mins read
Will a good weekend in Montreal be the start of a revival for Daniel Ricciardo in 2024? TCF takes a look at his performance and the road ahead.
Formula 1

2024 Canadian Grand Prix: What the Drivers are Saying after the Race

11 Mins read
Following 70 laps of incredible racing in Montreal, the drivers review their performances in a thrilling wet-to-dry race.