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Max Verstappen claimed another pole position at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Whilst Piastri found himself demoted to fifth after 2nd fastest in qualifying.

Whilst that in itself is nothing new, that battle that he faced from Ferrari and then McLaren to do so, was intense to say the least. It was a challenge in which victory brought an even deeper sense of satisfaction to the Oracle Red Bull Racing #1.

It had been a difficult start to the weekend for the reigning Constructor’s champions. Both drivers had struggled to put together a full competitive lap, with sector two proving to be the most problematic. Verstappen and Perez bounced over kerbs or ran off track at or near the Acque Minerali, which culminated in a crash for the Mexican driver in FP3 and a subsequent failure to make it past Q2.

“It was a really rewarding pole today and everything ended up coming together for qualifying,” Verstappen said to Oracle Red Bull Media.

“This weekend has been tough and we have been lacking pace and balance within the car, however we kept on working at it and trying to improve. When we went into qualifying, the balance of the car felt a lot better, so it was a great turnaround. Honestly it is just a fantastic track and I wish we had more of those on the calendar. It felt unbelievable to drive a qualifying lap here; there are a few old school tracks that we have remaining on the calendar which are really exciting and what I fell in love with when I started watching and racing in Formula One.”

Less than a tenth of a second separated Verstappen from the McLaren duo. Oscar Piastri, who had never raced at Imola before and sported the full upgrades on his car for the first time, finished second. Teammate and Miami GP winner Lando Norris was third.

Piastri found himself demoted to fifth after a Steward’s hearing deemed that the McLaren team had failed to warn him early enough of a fast-approaching Kevin Magnussen in Q1. He was handed a three-place grid drop as a result, despite acknowledging the difficulty in providing space or seeing an approaching driver at that portion of the circuit.

“I’m really happy with the performance today. We were so close to pole on track,” Piastri told McLaren media.

“I’ve been really comfortable with the car from the moment we put it on track yesterday and I am enjoying my first GP weekend here. We’ve definitely been on the pace all weekend and the confidence is high. It is a shame to lose the front row and having to start from P5 as it’s not the easiest track to overtake on. However, we will try our best to recover some positions and fight to finish on the podium.”

Daniel Ricciardo made it into Q3 and finished ninth, two places and two-tenths behind teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

“Qualifying was a better session for me, we made some progress from the start f the weekend as we were struggling a bit more than Yuki,” Ricciardo told Visa Cash App RB Media.\

“In every lap I did I was always trying to find a bit more here and there, but the first sector is the part where I am still struggling a lot. That’s where the lap got away from me, but we’ll keep looking at it tonight to understand more and work on it. We’re in a good place and I’m happy and comfortable in the car for the rest of the lap.”

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