The Friday in F1 Emilia Romagna GP was hugely weather-affected which led to red flag situation and multiple stoppages.

It was quite the Friday in F1 Emilia Romagna GP at Imola which was largely affected by weather as several red flag stoppages limited the running in a sprint weekend. The qualifying session saw five red flags in damp conditions.

In fact, the pole-sitter was eventually decided by a late red flag with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen securing pole from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with McLaren’s Lando Norris ended up third where the Mercedes duo were knocked out in Q2.

Verstappen was pleased with pole but is wary of Saturday sprint race which will decide the Sunday’s grid as teammate Sergio Perez was left a bit down after ending up seventh in the order. Leclerc, though, was disappointed missing out on pole despite having pace.

His teammate Sainz was hugely down after his Q2 crash where he noted that he wasn’t pushing as much when he crashed out. Another in the disappointment list were the Mercedes duo with both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell getting knocked out in Q2, and Williams’ Alexander Albon facing brake issues in Q1.

Verstappen: “Yes, of course our first few races didn’t go to plan, but we will try to have a good weekend here. It was tricky out there with the rain… It was very slippery to get the tyre temps to work. It was a hectic, long qualifying, but of course at the end happy to be here, it’s an amazing track, it also really punishes you if you make a mistake; you can go in the wall. That’s what we like – to make it really hard and difficult. Very pleased, of course with pole position. I know tomorrow and Sunday will be different in terms of weather conditions but at least it’s a good start to the weekend.”

Leclerc: “I’m not happy. Obviously I think we had the pace – we were very strong all session. Q1, Q2 was all about trying to put a lap together to go to Q3 and then push a bit more, but it was a very tricky session overall, and then in… Q3 it was all about putting everything together. This is why it is frustrating for me, because when it [counted], in Q3, I made the wrong choice, but it’s life: we will learn from it, and at the end P2 is not a disaster. Everything to play for tomorrow and after, and tomorrow and we will give everything.

“I did one lap, which was strong, and then I decided to abort the second one just to prepare the tyres for the last two, because warm-up is quite an [important] thing and I wanted to have the last two laps at the end of the session. But that never happened, because there was a red flag. I like to dream – but we need to focus on our own job, and not try to overdo things. I keep saying it, but I think it’s very important this weekend and yes, let’s keep pushing. But for now, we have the potential to do so.”

Sainz: “Very frustrating. The target was to put a banker lap in knowing that the rain was going to come, and honestly I knew I was P1, P2 the whole session and I wasn’t pushing really that hard at all, but the car surprised me in that corner. Maybe it was starting to rain, maybe it was tyres too hot after doing two consecutive push laps. I don’t know, I need to understand it because it’s not a mistake that… I don’t think I was exposing myself to a mistake pushing like that.

“It was not a lap that was properly on the limit at all, it was a lap that was okay just to put a banker in without putting it on the limit, and unfortunately I lost it, the car, for some reason. I didn’t have any warning that I was going to lose it and it just went. Tricky conditions for sure but not ideal. At least thinking positively, I will have Sprint quali and the race to recover. As a target, [I want] to move forward, try and rescue some solid points. The weekend is not over yet, it’s only Friday so there’s plenty of time. But obviously it hurts because it should have been an easy through to Q3 and in the wet, you never know what can happen.”

Norris: “I’m top-three, which is quite a surprise for us. There was a lot left in the lap. I tried to get the tyres into temperature, but I pushed too hard on the out-lap. A shame because there was a chance at least to maybe have a go at Charles. It’s difficult to say, because I am sure everybody can say they could’ve improved. There was a possibility for us to go forward even more because the car was feeling good and I was feeling confident, so it’s a shame it ended like that – but a good position for tomorrow so I’m happy.

“[It’s getting] better and better, but at some point, that stops. It’s difficult to say, these conditions made a big difference for us today and that’s why we are in the position we are. I think if it was completely dry, we would not be in third place. We made the most of today of course and we’ve given ourselves the best opportunity to score some good points this weekend.”

Hamilton: “It wasn’t a great session. Yes, naturally it’s disappointing. We come here with optimism, and you know everyone’s working really hard at the factory and things just don’t come together. It’s disappointing. I think we underperformed as a team today. There are things that we should have done that we didn’t do and yes, anyway, we’ll work as hard as we can to move up in the Sprint… It’s going to be a difficult race but hopefully tomorrow’s better weather-wise and who knows? Maybe we can move our way forwards. We’ll just keep working hard… Each weekend’s a rescue. That’s all internal stuff. I don’t want to share that, but we’ll just keep working. It is what it is.”

Behind the Top 3, multiple drivers had a good time where Haas’ Kevin Magnussen ended up fourth from Alpine’s Fernando Alonso while McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was sixth. Also in the Top 10 was Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel who ended up ninth in his second race.

The Dane’s teammate Mick Schumacher was knocked out in Q2 due to mistake at Turn 7. At the same time, the Spaniard’s teammate Esteban Ocon was knocked out in Q1 due to gearbox issue, where both the AlphaTauri duo got knocked out too.

Magnussen: “I ran out of talent. I did [think qualifying was over]. I touched the white line and then it was gone, and I thought I was going to hit the wall. I then went into the gravel and slowed down quite a lot so I realised – I saw the anti-stall, pulled the clutch while I was still backwards, and then went onto the throttle just enough to get onto that escape road. Yeah, lucky. I’m super-pleased. It’s another unbelievable result for us. The car was just great, so fast and a joy to drive – so proud of the team. We were more competitive in the wet, we made the tyres work better, but in the dry we got through to Q3 still in P7.

“They weren’t fantastic laps from my side and we were still dialling in the car, so it’s very positive. And it’s going to be dry tomorrow it looks like. It’s not easy to overtake on this track so I’m hoping I can stay in the top eight and get some points. I want to start in the good position for the Sunday race. We’re in P4. In the dry, I don’t think we’re fast enough to be P4, but it’s a tricky track to overtake, so if I can get around the first lap in P4, that’s going to be super.

“If I lose a position or two after that, you know, we still get points and a great position for Sunday. Of course I always want to finish higher than fourth, but we’ve also got to be realistic and clever. I feel like I want to push, I’m so close to the top now… You can win from P4! But we’re not fast enough to do that. We’re in a different battle, we’ve got to remember what we’re trying to do and benefit from this great result today in a clever way.”

Alonso: “It feels good to be in the top five after a messy qualifying with all of the changing conditions and red flags. With the wet weather changing the track all the time, anything can happen, so overall I’m pleased to be in the top five for tomorrow. The car felt fast in the last two rounds and I feel quite comfortable with the car here. Let’s see how we do tomorrow as there are points on offer in the Sprint and for the race on Sunday.”

Bottas: “It was a really strong session for us until we had to stop the car for a technical issue. We are still investigating what it is, hopefully it is nothing serious and we can fix it quickly. It’s a bit of a shame as we had the potential to be higher than eighth, but it’s not a disaster on a sprint weekend: we are in a decent place to fight tomorrow and we can aim to make up some more places ahead of the race on Sunday.”

Vettel: “I am pleased with the job we did today. It was my first time in Q3 in 2022 and the first time this year for both cars in Q2, which is a great effort by the team. It took a while to get comfortable, but by the first run of Q2 I was pretty happy. In Q3, I only had one clean lap. On the second attempt, I braked late and ran wide in Turn Two, and then it was all red flags from there. It is a shame it ended in a bit of an anticlimax, but we should be able to have a good weekend from here.”

Gasly: “I don’t exactly know what happened today. The track was at the driest on our last lap, but we were still knocked out so it’s very disappointing. We need to make a lot of positions up tomorrow, as we’re obviously not where we want to be. Firstly, we need to go away and analyse everything from today to understand, we clearly could’ve done better, and then hopefully we can make our way forward across the rest of the weekend.”

Here’s how F1 Emilia Romagna GP FP1 panned out