The Mugello circuit has never hosted a Formula One race before, which means that Lewis Hamilton has made history by taking pole position at the track ahead of Sunday’s race. And with his time of 1:15.144, Hamilton has also secured the lap record.
While it’s difficult to accurately predict how F1 drivers will respond to unfamiliar circuits, placing one’s bets on Mercedes is always the smart thing to do in 2020. The two drivers lock out the front row of the grid, followed by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Alex Albon in third and fourth, respectively.
Valtteri Bottas had dominated every practice session at Mugello, so it was a bit surprising that he wasn’t able to grab pole on Saturday. He might have had a shot had it not been for Esteban Ocon’s spin. Hamilton remained just 0.059s ahead of his teammate before Bottas went out for his final flying lap in Q3, but Bottas was forced to slow due to the local yellow flag thrown for Ocon’s car.
A fifth place start for Charles Leclerc was the best Ferrari could hope for at its home race and 1000th Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel qualified 14th, just barely making it out of Q1 with a final flying lap that just barely pushed him into Q2. The team certainly would have liked a much better starting position at a race this important, but Ferrari just hasn’t been capable of much better in 2020.
Vettel’s 14th place came at the expense of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, last weekend’s race winner. The French driver was able to capitalize on some poorly timed penalties and restarts, and reality hit hard as he was just barely pipped from Q1. He’ll start from 16th.
The Tuscan Grand Prix is full of unknowns, but its speed and tight turns likely won’t make for many opportunities to pass. Drivers will have to be extra careful, however, because Mugello still retains gravel traps instead of the paved runoff of modern F1 tracks. Anyone who runs wide will be punished by the gravel—which is likely going to be the most exciting part of the race.
The full qualifying order can be found here.