RED BULL and Ferrari continued to amass Mercedes in a chaotic qualifying session at Imola that was interrupted FIVE times.
Lewis Hamilton just scraped into 13th place for Saturday’s sprint race, while teammate George Russell will start 11th.
Hamilton’s hopes of a record eighth world title hang by a thread as he sits a whopping 43 points behind championship leader Charles Leclerc.
Current world champion Max Verstappen is a further two points adrift after failing to finish in Bahrain and Australia – but the Dutchman will start the sprint to pole ahead of Ferrari’s Leclerc.
Hamilton, who only made it into the top 15 after beating AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda by just 0.004s in Q1, said: “It wasn’t a great session.
“The feeling is disappointment. We came here with optimism. Everyone worked hard at the factory. It’s disappointing.
“I think we underperformed as a team today. There are things we should have done that we didn’t.”
When asked what he would be talking about in his debrief with Merc boss Toto Wolff, Hamilton added: “It’s internal stuff, I’d rather not share that. We will keep working. Every weekend is a rescue.”
30-minute sprint race on Saturday is F1’s latest attempt at beefing up the action, but it was a good old downpour that added to the drama here.
The new FIA race director Niels Wittich took no chances on the famous track where tragedies for Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger happened in 1994.
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Every time someone hit the barriers or had a problem with their car, Wittich hit the stop button.
It was a stop-start session but one that sets things up for an exciting battle between Verstappen and Leclerc today.
The final red flag that brought a rainy day to an early end was caused by McLaren driver Lando Norris slamming his McLaren into the guardrail.
Ironically, with his mistake causing everyone an early dip, he secured his third place on the grid while continuing his solid recovery for McLaren.
He said: “I’m happy to be in the top three which is a surprise for us but there was still a lot to do.
“There was a chance to try Charles as it gave us the opportunity to want more.
“Things are getting better and better for us, although it’s hard to say if those wet conditions have made things different.
“If it were completely dry we wouldn’t be third but we gave ourselves the best opportunity to score good points.”
https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/motorsport/18345406/lewis-hamilton-max-verstappen-imola-emilia-romagna/ Lewis Hamilton suffers an Imola nightmare as he misses Q3 with Max Verstappen on pole for the sprint race