Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for Formula 1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after pipping Sergio Perez in a closely fought qualifying session at Imola.

Despite failing to improve on the final runs of Q3, a stunning lap from Hamilton on his first flyer saw him beat Perez by just 0.035s as he took the 99th pole position of his F1 career, leaving him one shy of a century. 

Perez outqualified Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen with a late improvement to snatch second on the grid with the Dutchman left to rue a small mistake on his final lap as he ended up 0.087s adrift.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who took pole at Imola last year, endured a dismal qualifying and will start only eighth on the grid after mistakes on both of his Q3 efforts.

Charles Leclerc once again took fourth place in qualifying for Ferrari, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo, who out qualified McLaren teammate Lando Norris due to the Briton having his best lap time deleted for abusing track limits.

Without that mistake, Norris’ lap would have been good enough to secure him a top-three starting position on the grid and his best qualifying result in F1.

Behind Bottas, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll completed the top 10.

Carlos Sainz was frustrated not to join his Ferrari teammate in Q3 as he missed out on a spot in the top-10 by just 0.062s, a tenth clear of George Russell who impressed in his Williams to take 12th.

Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel had another tough qualifying session as he could only manage a lap good enough for P13, ahead of Nicholas Latifi, who rounded out a positive day for Williams to secure his best-ever qualifying result in 14th.

There was disappointment for another multiple world champion in the shape of Fernando Alonso, who was unable to progress into Q3 like Alpine teammate Ocon on his way to setting the slowest time of the Q2 runners.

It marked the first time since the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix that Alonso has been out-qualified by a teammate in F1.

The Alfa Romeo pairing of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi finished in 16th and 17th, with Mick Schumacher getting within two-tenths of Giovinazzi.

Schumacher once again out qualified fellow Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin, who took a trip across the gravel at the Villeneuve chicane on his way to P18, some 0.5s down on his teammate.

Yuki Tsunoda will start the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix from the back of the grid after suffering a huge shunt on his first flying lap of qualifying.

The 20-year-old Japanese rookie emerged unscathed but the same could not be said for his AlphaTauri, which was left wrecked by the impact that completely destroyed the rear-end.