Hamilton, 'pole' at Mugello for another Mercedes double; Sainz will start ninth

Hamilton, 'pole' at Mugello for another Mercedes double; Sainz will start ninth

Verstappen, third, starts with options to win, given the degradation of the tires, a big problem for Mercedes.

Hamilton, 'pole' at Mugello for another Mercedes double; Sainz will start ninth

He only needs five to reach a hundred. Lewis Hamilton can do it this season, because nobody like him has mastered the art of poles. Not even Valtteri Bottas , faster in two of the three free sessions, dared to argue with him at the moment of truth in Mugello. 59 thousandths of advantage (1: 15.144) to extend Mercedes' extraordinary streak. This year, the Silver Arrows have yet to miss a pole position to the competition. Carlos Sainz will start from the ninth place, who did not even expect to reach Q3, but who made his McLaren grow compared to the previous hours.

A yellow flag, for an exit from the track by Esteban Ocon , frustrated the last attempt by Bottas, who could not squeeze the engine of the W11. So wait your turn at San Donato, Mugello's first and slowest corner. Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon will look for the tickle from behind, while Charles Leclerc , fifth, will carry a ray of hope for the tifosi . His last attempt in Q3 had extraordinary merit.

You have to drive very carefully on this old-school circuit, where any mistakes in its dizzying corners pay off with the gravel. There is no forgiveness, as the Monegasque could see in Correntaio on Friday. There is also no excess space in the narrow and exciting Arrabbiatas, which delight the drivers and demand the most from the tires. This weekend, the downgrade looks similar to Silverstone, where a wave of punctures turned everything upside down. The roughness of the road, with a long resurfaced section, will further complicate the situation for Pirelli, which has carried its toughest component.

Gasly out in Q1

The soft tires, with which the first 10 will start on Sunday, get so hot that there are those who take extra pampering so that they reach the last sector in condition. Verstappen is well aware of the importance of tire management. Mercedes suffers when their shoes rise in temperature, so they don't want to lose sight of Mad Max. Most likely, the race, with hardly any options for overtaking, is an imitation of the Monaco GP.

On the other hand, this Saturday there were plenty of reasons to enjoy the show. The equality in the middle of the grid gave a nice resolution of Q1. At McLaren, with many problems finding a suitable configuration, Lando Norris suffered, saved in extremis. At Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel avoided another blush by just 50 thousandths. And Pierre Gasly , only six days after playing the glory in Monza, was left out and with a bad face.

Albon's best sensations

By morning Verstappen had come within just 17 thousandths of Hamilton's fastest time. The good omens in Red Bull were rounded off thanks to Albon, the protagonist of a noticeable improvement. The Austrian team, like a month ago at the 70th Anniversary GP, warned that it can compete with Mercedes.

Sainz's last attempt (1: 16.522) in Q2 was enough to put his nose in 10th place. To the limit. And taking Norris ahead, who can at least play the free tire choice card. Q3 was already too high a bar for Vettel, penultimate and half a second slower than Leclerc, eighth. Nor could Sainz progress, with

Despite the red flag forecast, there were only three track starts to regret, with no consequences for Daniil Kvyat , George Russell and Ocon. We still don't know how the Williams driver was able to keep the car on the track, with three wheels on the Savelli gravel, at almost 230 km / h.

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