Max Verstappen beats rain and Leclerc to take F1 Imola GP sprint race pole

By its close Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had earned “pole position” but such is the equally painful structuring of this format, while his pole counts statistically in the record books it is only for Saturday’s sprint race which will decide the literal pole for Sunday’s GP. Verstappen beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc into second and McLaren’s Lando Norris into third. Leclerc set the pace on his opening hot lap in Q3, mighty through the second and third sectors but he was only two-hundredths clear of Verstappen with a time of 1min 28.778sec. Pole gives Verstappen the chance to claw back points in the title fight which Leclerc leads on 71, with the world champion, who has retired twice this season, in sixth on 25. This year F1 have decided that for statistical purposes the quickest driver on Friday will be deemed to have taken pole position but the sprint race will still decide the grid for Sunday’s grand prix. At which point a driver will be on pole, yet not acknowledged to have taken pole.

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