Hamilton takes record breaking 69th pole
Lewis Hamilton is now the most proficient pole winner in the history of F1 turning an amazing lap of 1m34.660s to win the pole for the Italian GP at Monza in very wet conditions.
Hamilton, who was tied with Michael Schumacher, now moves into sole possession of first place in poles won.
Max Verstappen was 2nd for Red Bull a full 1.1 seconds behind Hamilton.
Daniel Riccardo was third in the 2nd Red Bull, but after grid penalties for both Red Bulls, Williams rookie Lance Stroll will start the race alongside Hamilton on the front row.
The big surprise was the poor performance of both Ferraris over 2 seconds slower than Hamilton in 7th and 8th position and out to lunch.
Fifth fastest was Force India’s Esteban Ocon, ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Williams’ Felipe Massa and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne completed the top ten.
The session initially started on time, but as the rain worsened Haas’s Romain Grosjean aquaplaned off on the main straight, bringing out the red flags just four minutes in. The Frenchman was unhurt, and wheel rims aside, damage to his car was light, but his afternoon’s work was over.
It was then 2 hours and 35 minutes before conditions were deemed safe enough to continue running.
Q1 inevitably resumed on wet tires, but the entire field had switched to intermediates by the end. Eliminated along with the luckless Grosjean were his Haas team mate Kevin Magnussen, Renault’s Jolyon Palmer and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.
As track conditions continued to fluctuate between wet and intermediate territory, Q2 accounted for Force India’s Sergio Perez, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and the Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz.
Verstappen, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Palmer, Alonso and Sainz will start Sunday’s race from the back of the pack thanks to grid penalties.
Today was a tough day. In the end, I just couldn't get the Wet tyre to work. We stopped for a new set, tried to go for one more lap, but I just didn't find any grip. Initially, in some parts of the qualifying we got everything working well, but it was really on a knife edge with the temperatures of the tyres. With more rain, I could not get the tyres hot enough. However, with the grid penalties for the Red Bulls, I'll be starting fourth, which is not too bad. And it is for sure good to be ahead of the Ferraris with both cars. We have a long race ahead of us tomorrow; luckily it's supposed to be dry.
These tricky conditions are the times when you can do many more things wrong than right, so we can be pleased with our result. After such a long time waiting in the rain, I think the racing fans got their money's worth from the dominant lap Lewis produced right at the end - even if they were probably cheering a bit more for the cars in red than for us. It was a brilliant lap, after a session where he was the quickest man throughout, and it was undoubtedly a performance worthy of claiming the all-time pole position record. Valtteri performed strongly, too, until he ran on at the second chicane on his final timed lap. But grid penalties for cars in front of him will work in his favour tomorrow in terms of the starting position. The key point to take away from this afternoon is that we will start the race with both cars ahead of our direct competition, and we will be aiming to keep it that way to the flag. Conditions are predicted to be warm and dry, though, so it will be no easy walk to the finish. We will do our homework tonight, prepare for every scenario and aim to deliver a strong performance in the race. Ferrari will be competitive, so we need to cover our bases.
It wasn't quite a perfect conclusion but we enjoyed a very strong session and have every prospect of a good race tomorrow. Lewis was in imperious form throughout the rather elongated session, and Valtteri too although things didn't go as well for him in Q3. But he will have a strong race tomorrow. It was a terrific job from the strategists and race team to put the drivers out on the right piece of track, and the right tyres, during each part of qualifying. Overall, a very good all-round team performance on a day that required maximum concentration.
More to follow.....
Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to our forums to discuss this article