Valtteri Bottas edges Lewis Hamilton for Formula One pole position at Imola

F1 Imola qualifying Bottas
Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

IMOLA, Italy — Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was narrowly beaten by Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for the F1 pole position Saturday at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as Formula One returned to the Imola circuit for the first time since 2006.

Racing on the track where his childhood idol Ayrton Senna lost his life, Hamilton finished 0.097 seconds behind Bottas’ time of 1 minute, 13.609 seconds.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull qualified third, 0.567 back.

It was a wild session for Red Bull.

Verstappen was second to Hamilton in the abbreviated weekend’s only practice session earlier Saturday, but the Dutch driver reported that he had “no power” during Q2 and returned to the pits without setting a time.

Pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas takes the checkered flag during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Mario Renzi – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images).

Alexander Albon then spun off track in the other Red Bull.

Red Bull was able to repair what it reported as a spark plug issue for Verstappen, and he returned just in time to reach Q3, as did Albon, who qualified sixth.

Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri qualified fourth and Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was fifth.

In a sign of F1’s progress, Bottas was more than 9 seconds faster than Michael Schumacher’s pole time for the 2006 San Marino GP at Imola.

Due to rising novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in Italy, no fans were allowed into the track located in the country’s auto racing heartland.

Mercedes can clinch a record seventh straight constructors’ title in Sunday’s race unless Red Bull outscores it by 34 points — something that hasn’t happened in more than four years.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel continued his poor season by being eliminated in Q2.

Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo, the only current driver to have raced here in 2006, was dropped in Q1.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
James Gilbert/Getty Images

Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.