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Verstappen brands pole as 'good start' in quest to catch Leclerc

Red Bull's Max Verstappen will start the Sprint race at Imola from the front of the grid after claiming pole position at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen says he has got his weekend off to a "good start" after claiming pole position during a hectic qualifying session at Imola. The red flag was waved five times during the near-two-hour session as the track switched from wet to dry to wet. But it is Verstappen, having suffered two retirements in his last three races, who will start Saturday's Sprint on pole position as he looks to close the gap to Charles Leclerc. When asked if this is now the "restart" of his season, Verstappen said: "Yeah, of course. I mean, our first few races, in general, didn't go to plan, but yeah, we'll try to have a good weekend here."

Verstappen: Imola is tricky, and that's why we like it

There is a long way to go before Sunday's chequered flag, with big points on offer this weekend. The winner of Saturday's Sprint will take home eight points, with 26 points available to Sunday's race winner, should they also claim the fastest lap. "It was tricky out there with the dry and then the rain. It was very slippery... to also get the tyre temperatures to work. It was hectic," Verstappen added. "It was a long qualifying but, in the end, I'm very happy to be here. It's an amazing track and it also really punishes you. If you make a mistake, you can go on the wall. So that's what we like, you know, to make it really hard and difficult." He summed up: "[I'm] very pleased with pole position. I know, of course, tomorrow and Sunday will be a bit different in terms of weather conditions, but this is a good start to the weekend."

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