Max Verstappen secures EIGHTH successive pole to equal Ayrton Senna’s record on same track that claimed the legendary Brazilian driver’s life 30 years ago

Max Verstappen powered to a record-equalling eighth consecutive pole position, drawing level with Ayrton Senna on the Imola track that claimed the Brazilian legend’s life 30 years ago.

The McLarens were quick in a tight qualifying session for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – both their young drivers, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri put up a spirited fight – but nothing could stop the Dutchman, whose remorseless surge to a fourth consecutive world title continues apace.

Senna, whose deeds are being celebrated at the venerable track this weekend, set the standard between his first pole in Jerez, Spain, in 1988, and his eighth in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1989. The McLaren star’s record stood for 35 years, until today.

‘It’s 30 years since he passed away, so it is very special and I am very pleased to get pole,’ reflected Verstappen on his timely feat. ‘It’s a nice memorial to him.

‘He was an incredible F1 driver, especially in qualifying. A great day for me, a great day for the team. I’m very, very happy.

Max Verstappen secured pole position for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after qualifying

It means Verstappen (right) has been on pole for the past eight races across 2023 and 2024

Verstappen equalled the record of legendary Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna’s in the process

Senna’s deeds are being celebrated this weekend, 30 years on from his tragic passing

Norris was second best, 0.074sec behind his mate Max, with Piastri third, 0.091 back.

‘Small margins,’ reflected Norris, 24-year-old first-time winner in Miami a fortnight ago. ‘We can be pleased with what we did.’

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Lewis Hamilton’s revamped Mercedes did him no favours as he qualified a dismal eighth, his team-mate George Russell sixth. Hamilton was 0.758sec off the front, and three-tenths behind Russell. No corners turned there.

The Ferraris will start on their home asphalt from fourth place through Charles Leclerc and fifth through Carlos Sainz.

Fernando Alonso has barely had a bad session in long, stellar career, but he barely had a reliable turn on the 3.05-mile track on the day. He trawled the gravel in third practice, damaging the rear of his Aston Martin, and then ploughed off again in Q1 , condemning himself to qualify in 19th place.

Verstappen edged out Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris (above), who will start second and third

However, Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez (right) will begin the race in 11th place

The double world champion was only spared the indignity of bottom the final space on the grid by Logan Sargeant’s failure to keep his Williams between the white lines. The American saw his times deleted. It would be another nail in his coffin if the box wasn’t already hermetically sealed.

The second Red Bull, of Sergio Perez, was eliminated in Q2. The Mexican’s disappointment again underlined how much Verstappen adds to the sum of man and machine.

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