Red Bull driver Max Verstappen finished with the best time during qualifying at Imola, but he still may not start the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in pole position. This is due to a quirk in the rules.

Verstappen recorded a time of 1m:27.999s in Imola to establish his credentials early in the race weekend.

While the history books will point to this being a pole position for Verstappen, he may not line up in that position when the actual race takes place on Sunday.

It is, after all, a sprint weekend. Saturday will see all cars lining up for a sprint race, with Imola being the first venue this season to host this event.

The concept was trialed in the 2021 season, with Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos hosting these races.

Due to the official rulebook, Article 41.4 states: “The grid for the race will be drawn up based on the final classification of the sprint session with the driver finishing first on pole position.”

Essentially, this means that whoever wins the sprint race which will take place on Saturday will start the race in P1.

If Verstappen is able to take advantage during the sprint race, he will start the race in P1.

However, if Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc or either of the Mercedes cars manages to win the sprint race, they will be in P1 on Sunday.

The history books, though, will show Verstappen had pole position.

What were the rules in 2021?

Max Verstappen. Credit: planetf1.com

This was different compared to the rules in 2021.

Last year, the results of the qualifying race determined the driver grid positions for the Sunday race.

This was met with discontentment from some drivers.

They believed that the fastest driver during the qualifying session should not get pole position during the race if they had been beaten by someone else during the sprint.

However, some drivers were unhappy that the pole position was awarded to the sprint race winner and not the driver who finished qualifying fastest, as is the tradition.

FIA decided to intervene and give the purists at least some satisfaction, signaling that the record books would show the name of the fastest qualifier.

Has such a thing ever happened in the past?

Michael Schumacher. Credit: f1i.com

Back in 2012, while Michael Schumacher was the fastest qualifier in the Monaco Grand Prix, he did not start the race in pole position.

This was due to his five-place grid penalty for a crash with Bruno Senna in Spain two weeks prior to this.

As a result, Mark Webber was awarded pole position even though Schumacher had notched the fastest time and had theoretically won the qualifying session.

Read more: Marko confirms ‘major risk’ taken by Red Bull ahead of Emilia Romagna GP

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