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Hamilton takes 95th career pole ahead of inaugural Tuscan GP

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MIGUEL MEDINA After finishing third in the morning practice Charles Leclerc spun his retro-liveried Ferrari in the afternoon

Hamilton waved to a smattering of fans in the stands near the finish line.

It was the series leader and six-time champion's seventh pole in eight races this year as Mercedes continued their dominant run to nine poles out of nine this season with an eighth consecutive front row lockout.

Mercedes driver Bottas was considered the favourite to lead the way in qualifying for the Tuscan Grand Prix on Saturday after topping the timesheets in all three practice sessions. "Just incredibly tough today", Hamilton said. "I don't want to say nothing but something like this definitely needs to be analysed and find out what happened". "I've been working hard in the background to improve on my lines. I think he really deserved the point today". "But otherwise there is more adrenaline going in my body than anything else so I'm happy". I'm just saying us as a team didn't do the ideal job today and, with the margins of half a tenth, it is nothing.

"It took a while to get here!"

Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull, .365 behind Hamilton.

"All those restarts, the focus that's needed during that time, it's really, really hard", he said. "The track is fantastic to drive and qualifying was really something special".

The first crash came soon after the start where Bottas had taken the lead from polesitter Hamilton, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen and last Sunday's surprise Monza victor Pierre Gasly taken out.

He is just one win behind Michael Schumacher's record and inching closer to matching the German great's record of seven F1 titles.

Formula 1 has never raced at Mugello before so teams do not have the data available to them to predict tyre lift and estimated pit stop windows, and it is that uncertainty that makes Wolff nervous heading into the race.

"It felt like at the back of the grid where I was that everyone in front of me thought the race was going and we were all flat out until someone realized the race was not on", added the Spaniard.

On a glorious day in the Tuscan hills, the air temperature was 29 degrees Celsius and the track 46 as Q1 began with Bottas topping Hamilton by nearly three-tenths, leaving Verstappen adrift by half a second in third.

He was one of the five drivers eliminated from Q1 and let out an angry expletive.

Verstappen said he had been surprised by the Red Bull's pace: "I didn't expect to fight in qualifying but this weekend it has looked very promising", said the Dutchman. "It's annoying to make these mistakes".

It is becoming a recurring theme for Valtteri Bottas that when given the chance to capitalise on Lewis Hamilton's rare blemishes, the Finn fails to take advantage.

At the front, Hamilton was in control and looked on course for an easy win after building up a seven-second lead over Bottas - but on lap 43 the race was stopped for a second time.

AlphaTauri's Dany Kvyat, who is suspected to have played a part in the crash that brought out the first red flag of the day, was summoned to the stewards after the race, for a potential breach of sporting reg 39.13 which relates to behaviour behind the safety vehicle.

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