McLaren driver Lando Norris admits he's gutted after a "heartbreaking" mistake undid a sensational display in qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.
Daniel Ricciardo's teammate showed up the Aussie in qualifying but the Brit had to settle for seventh on the grid, with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton grabbing pole.
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Norris looked like taking a spot on the second row of the grid after clocking a time just 0.043 of a second behind Hamilton.
However, the McLaren driver's time was scrapped after he was handed a track limits penalty, following a very marginal call at Turn 9, where the whole of his car crossed the white line.
Rather than take third spot on the grid, the Brit ended up just behind Ricciardo in seventh.
“What a shame for Lando Norris, with track limits,” commentator Martin Brundle said.
“That otherwise was a stunning lap.”
David Croft added that it “might be a bit heartbreaking for Lando Norris but rules is rules”.
Norris said while he was obviously "disappointed" by the incident, he ultimately only had himself to blame.
“I’m pretty disappointed, pretty annoyed with myself,” he told Sky Sports.
“It was a very good day until then. I think the team did an awesome job. The car really came alive in quali, we made a lot of improvements since Friday but that one lap I really don’t need to make a mistake on, I effed it all up.
“The thing that people don’t realise is that it’s the same for everyone, so at the end of the day, it’s my mistake and I’ve messed it all up. From the outside, it looks a lot easier to stay between the lines than what it is inside.”
— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) April 17, 2021
Hamilton has put Mercedes on pole, with Red Bull's Sergio Perez joining the seven-time Formula One world champion on the front row.
Perez's Dutch teammate Max Verstappen qualified third for Sunday's race, ending his bid for three poles in a row, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc a strong fourth on a home track for the Italian team.
Ricciardo took sixth spot on the grid after an impressive qualifying effort, which would come as a relief to McLaren after he and Norris struggled in practice.
The pole was a record-extending 99th of Hamilton's extraordinary career, and it was one the 36-year-old Briton had to work for against resurgent rivals, with Mexican Perez only 0.035 slower.
Hamilton pleasantly surprised with pole
"I definitely didn't expect us to be ahead of two Red Bulls," said Hamilton, who won the season-opener in Bahrain last month after Verstappen started on pole.
"I think they have been so quick this weekend, there were times when they were six-tenths ahead.
"I came around the last corner and heard I'd got the pole and I was super grateful."
Hamilton produced the pole time of one minute 14.411 seconds with his first flying lap of the final session.
Perez, who will be making his first front row start, was signed to put more pressure on Mercedes than Verstappen's previous teammates had managed, and he delivered in only his second race for Red Bull.
It was the first time Verstappen had been outqualified by a teammate in regular conditions since Ricciardo was alongside at Red Bull in 2018.
"You can't be good every time, so we'll see what went wrong," said the Dutch driver. "It's still P3, which is a good starting position."
AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly qualified fifth, while Spaniard Carlos Sainz, in his first race in Italy with Ferrari, failed to make it through to the final shootout and starts 11th.
Both Williams drivers reached the second phase for the first time since last July, with George Russell still sounding disappointed with 12th despite being ahead of former champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
Four-time champion Vettel will line up 13th for Aston Martin and Alonso, a winner at Imola with Renault in 2005 on his way to the first of two titles, 15th for Alpine.
Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda was the big casualty of the first session, losing control at the Variante Alta and smashing his AlphaTauri backwards into the tyre wall.
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