Valtteri Bottas’ late improvement saw him narrowly beat Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton to claim pole position for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

Bottas trailed Hamilton by 0.031s after the first runs of Q3 but the Finn turned things around on his final flying lap with a 1m13.609s to snatch his fourth pole of the 2020 season and the 15th of his career.

Hamilton ended up just 0.097s down on Bottas as he took second, ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who survived an engine issue scare in Q2 to qualify third on the grid.

Verstappen had reported he had “no power” but a herculean effort by Red Bull saw them successfully change a faulty sparkplug on the Dutchman’s RB16 to get him back out on track with just 90 seconds remaining in Q2.

A sublime lap from Pierre Gasly ensured the Frenchman claimed an excellent fourth place for AlphaTauri, ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and the second Red Bull of Alex Albon, who could only qualify sixth as he continues to fight for his seat at the team for 2021.

Charles Leclerc was seventh-fastest for Ferrari, ahead of Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri and the two McLaren’s of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, who competed the top 10.

Racing Point failed to get a car into Q3 as Sergio Perez missed out in 11th, though the Mexican will be the highest-placed driver to have free tyre choice for the start of the race.

12th place went the way of Renault’s Esteban Ocon, while George Russell turned in another stunning qualifying display to take 13th in his eighth Q2 appearance of the season with a lap that featured the fastest first sector managed by any driver in that session.

Sebastian Vettel’s struggles at Ferrari continued in qualifying at Imola, with the four-time world champion having a lap time deleted for track limits and only able to qualify 14th, seven places behind teammate Leclerc.

Lance Stroll will line-up only 15th on the grid after a scrappy Q2 in which he lost his fastest time to a track limits infringement, as well as running wide at the final chicane.

Romain Grosjean missed out on a place in Q2 by just 0.096s as his Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen failed to improve on his final flying lap after a trip through the gravel and grass during a wide moment at the last chicane.

Kimi Raikkonen, the only driver in the current field to have previously raced at Imola in F1, was left 18th as the best-placed Alfa Romeo after his fastest time of Q1 was deleted due to a track limits infringement.

Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and the second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi propped up the order with the slowest times of all, with the latter making a mistake on his final effort.