Imola: Valtteri Bottas secured his fourth pole position of the season by edging championship leader and teammate Lewis Hamilton with his final qualifying lap for the Emilia-Romagna GP, while Pierre Gasly also starred for AlphaTauri.
The Finn trailed Hamilton by just 0.031s after the first runs, but having topped both opening segments of qualifying, Bottas found the time when it mattered, lighting up the timesheets to take pole by 0.1s. Mercedes were in a class of their own at the historic and picturesque Italian track, with Max Verstappen unable to get within half a second of the silver cars, but fortunate to get to Q3 at all after encountering a power issue in Q2.
Pierre Gasly, announced at AlphaTauri for 2021 ahead of the weekend, was in scintillating form all afternoon, the Frenchman comfortably in the top four throughout and crossing the line to end up fourth quickest to equal his career-best start.
Renault's Daniel Ricciardo was fifth, his fourth top-five start this season, ahead of Alexander Albon who seemed unhappy with the car, but found a way to at least start inside the top six, albeit it 0.4s adrift of teammate Verstappen.
Charles Leclerc couldn't repeat his heroics of the last couple of races, but the Ferrari driver was still a solid seventh with Daniil Kvyat making a rare appearance in Q3 for AlphaTauri.
The McLarens didn't have the pace to compete in the final shootout, with Lando Norris edging ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz for only the second time in the last eight races to complete the top 10.