Ferrari wins pole in farce Monza qualifying
In what was perhaps the biggest farce in recent F1 memory, the Q3 drivers all tried to out-wait the others so they could get a tow from the cars in front.
Everyone wanted to get a tow off the faster Ferrari, but Ferrari played them like a fiddle and waited so long in their garages that none of them could make it back around to the S/F before the checkered flag flew so they were not able to beat the time set earlier by Charles Leclerc and Ferrari.
As a result, Charles Leclerc will start on pole for Ferrari followed by the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas and the 2nd Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel - all within 1/10th sec.
With the tow crucial at Monza, ahead of the second runs the 10 Q3 drivers engaged in a 'slow race' for the ideal position to start their flying laps, with most failing to make it to the end of the lap before the checkered flag.
This meant no driver was able to improve their time on the second run, with Hamilton complaining that the Ferrari drivers had held everyone up and "just timed everyone out". The mental midget could have gone out earlier, no one was stopping him.
That meant that Leclerc claimed pole position from Hamilton by 0.039s, the Monegasque’s first fastest lap good enough to secure his fourth career pole position, and Ferrari’s second in a row here.
“It was an anti-climax we couldn’t all go out and do that last final lap,” said Hamilton. “That’s one of the most exciting parts of qualifying. It’s crazy, the timing, the system we have where everyone backs up, trying to get position, and they basically timed us out.
“On the out-lap, it’s dangerous for us all. There’s people slowing down, you don’t know who is alongside you. It’s a risky business out there but kind of enjoyable at same time.
“For us, we’re down on the Ferraris on a straight line, so we need it [the tow]. I think others also do. I think it’s the new wing, the drag is much bigger this year so everyone is focusing on that.”
Bottas was third for Mercedes, 0.047s behind Leclerc, while Vettel was fourth. Impressive pace from the two Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg throughout qualifying saw the Anglo-French team lock out the third row of the grid ahead of Sainz – who unfortunately for him wasn’t able to improve on his original lap, despite being the only other driver to cross the line to attempt a final effort.
Red Bull's Alex Albon and Racing Point's Lance Stroll in P8 and P9 both failed to set a Q3 time, meanwhile, as did Raikkonen, who crashed at the Parabolica while attempting his first flying lap in Q3.
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Alexander Albon (8th, No Time): "Although I'm still learning what the car needs to be really quick, it felt good before the final run in Q3. I was fighting for P4 or P5 on the grid but then we got the red flag and the lap was compromised. On the second lap it was more of a priority for us to put in a good time but the guys who had already done a lap could afford to be a bit slower. Everyone came out too late because no one wanted to be in front as we all wanted the slip steam and that created a delay. These cars have quite a lot of drag so getting a tow can gain you an extra two or three tenths which you need to get up the field. I was trying to pass the other cars but because everyone was weaving down the straights to keep the tire temperature up as we were going so slow, it got backed up and it became impossible to overtake. I realized by Turn 4 that it was going to be difficult to make it. When we all knew time was running out everyone suddenly picked up their pace, so we were almost flat out by the end of the lap. We should have taken less risk on the second run, but we were fighting for a top five position. It's frustrating as getting a good position in qualifying would have made tomorrow's race a lot easier but I had good pace yesterday so there is everything to fight for."
Max Verstappen (20th, No Time): "Qualifying didn't exactly go to plan. I wanted to go out and do one lap to see how competitive we were in Q1, even though we are starting at the back because of the penalty, but out of Turn 2 I felt a loss of power and we chose to abort the lap. I'm not worried about the power unit for tomorrow as we haven't seen problems in the race before and the upgrade seems to be working well in terms of performance as you could see from our times in FP3. In the dry it will be pretty tough tomorrow as the leaders should be able to pull away quickly in the first few laps and there are a lot of cars that look competitive around here. On a track where there aren't many corners and the lap times are so similar it is harder to close that gap, but in the wet the differences are normally a bit bigger and then we can definitely move to the front. Rain tomorrow would give us a better chance but even in the dry we have a good race car so it should be fun and I'm aiming for the top five."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Going into qualifying Max was always due to take a penalty so he only attempted one run in Q1 as per the plan, but he experienced a spike in revs on the curb at Turn 2 which meant he felt a loss of power and as a precaution he aborted the lap. Alex progressed through Q1 without any issue and in Q2 he looked to have reasonable pace in the car. In Q3 Raikkonen spun causing a red flag during Alex's first run while he was around half a second up on his previous best so he did not record a time. A bit of messing around from many drivers on the out lap of the final run in Q3 held everyone up meaning Alex was unable to record a lap which is frustrating as he had good pace in the car today."
Renault Sport Formula One Team
Daniel Ricciardo (5th, 1:19.839): "It was a great qualifying for the team, locking out the third row. We executed everything well today, and the result is a good reward for that. I had a good Q3 lap, and we've been a solid top six all weekend. Just like in Spa, we've been strong since the summer break and that's pleasing. No one wanted to be first on the road at the end, everyone was side by side. It was a consequence of no one wanting to give their tow to everyone else. Still, fifth on the grid is really solid."
Nico Hulkenberg (6th, 1:20.049): "I'm happy with the result, but it could have been a little better. It was okay, I lost some rhythm in Q2 with a lock-up at Turn 1, so I had to reset myself. The ending was clearly a bit extreme but the tow has a big impact here and it's worth a couple of tenths, which you can't make up in the corners. That's why we had some games at the end. It was peculiar with all the cars bunched up. Our pace was clearly very strong today and we have to back it up with points on Sunday."
Alan Permane, Sporting Director: "We are very pleased with the result of our qualifying session. As in Spa, our car is working well here with fifth and sixth position a decent reward for our pace. Tomorrow is forecast to be a bit cooler and unsettled but we still expect a dry race; we'll be ready for every condition. Our race pace from Friday's practice session was good so we are looking forward to a strong race tomorrow and a decent points haul for both cars."
Rich Energy Haas F1 Team
Kevin Magnussen (12th, 1:20.615): "It was about as good as it could be today, but Q3 was only about a tenth away, and you always feel like you could have taken that. I got out behind Albon, who was much quicker than me, so he pulled away and I only got a tow for half a lap – because then he was gone. That's how it is. We got more-or-less everything out of it that we could. We've seen before that the car drops in race pace, but we can just hope it doesn't do that tomorrow. Friday looked a little bit positive, so we hope that's going to carry into tomorrow and be the same again. We're not far from the points. If we have a decent race car we can go for it."
Romain Grosjean (16th, 1:20.784): "Very much disappointed not to make it through to Q2 today. The car was actually better than it had been in FP3 and in the corners I was fast. Just compared to Kevin (Magnussen) though we're lacking a lot of top speed, I don't know why, but it costs you a lot of lap time. My lap was good, I had a bit of traffic through turns four and five, I probably lost a bit of time there, but every other corner I was fast. It's just very disappointing not to have gained more in a straight line, I was using the slipstream as much as I could. We need to look into everything."
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "It's not a big surprise that we qualified where we did after the earlier free practice sessions. We tried to set the car up so that in the race, we can race. Hopefully we can get that one done. Starting 12th and 14th is not fantastic, but it doesn't mean that we're out of the points in the race. We'll focus on it and hopefully we can get it done."
McLaren F1 Team
Carlos Sainz (7th, 1:20.455): "It was quite an eventful qualifying for everyone. A weird last run we aren't used to seeing. Anyway, I think I managed to extract the maximum from the car and, as a team, we executed a very solid quali, so we should be happy with our overall performance today. P7 is a good starting position for tomorrow and it gives us a good fighting chance for the race and for points. The weather might play a big role, so we'll be ready for different scenarios."
Lando Norris (14th, 1:21.068): "It's been a reasonable day. I was already on the back foot from yesterday. Even in FP3, because I was still a bit more race-focused, when it comes to the qualifying laps, the more situations you can be in to prepare for that, the better. I feel what I did today was what I needed to do. I qualified ahead of Verstappen and ahead of Gasly, the two other drivers who have penalties. I also helped Carlos into Q3. Everything we could do, we did – so a good day."
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal:
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: "In Belgium, last weekend, we struggled on Friday and Saturday, so coming to Monza the aim was very much to improve our performance in low-downforce trim. Our specific targets for qualifying were to get Carlos into Q3, and ensure Lando could start the race tomorrow in front of Gasly and Verstappen – the two other cars with penalties. We achieved both targets, and yesterday in practice we saw good long-run pace, so we're optimistic we can fight for good points. The performance in qualifying saw great teamwork from the drivers and the car crews, getting the cars out at precisely the right times in Q2, ensuring Carlos could benefit from Lando's tow. Obviously Lando's starting position is compromised by his PU penalties, but we're here to fight and we're very much looking forward to an exciting Italian Grand Prix."
Racing Point F1 Team
Lance Stroll (9th, No Time): "I'm happy to be back in Q3 because it's been a little while. However, it's a shame we couldn't set a time at the end there. I think everyone underestimated the time to get to the line, everyone got greedy looking for the tow and in the end nobody got it! Hats off to Sainz: he judged it just right. I have some good memories of coming here [to Monza] over the years. It's awesome to be behind the wheel of an F1 car on a high-speed track like this because you really get to feel the car working at its best. I'm hoping for some mixed conditions to spice things up tomorrow and to score some good points for the team."
Sergio Perez (17th, 1:21.291): "It's a big shame. We lost an opportunity today and we were not able to go through. I think it was something with the engine but I don't know yet - I haven't spoken with my engineers. I just lost power and had to stop the car. We'll see what we're able to do tomorrow. Hopefully we can minimize the damage and have a strong race to try and score points."
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer: "Lance did a great job to get into Q3. He wasn't especially happy with the car in final practice, but we made some important changes ahead of qualifying and Lance drove some clean and tidy laps when it mattered. It's a shame Sergio couldn't join him in Q3 and the power unit issues need to be investigated and fully understood. It means Sergio will start at the back of the grid tomorrow, which is a bit frustrating. We are working with Mercedes to decide which power unit will be best to fit for the race."
Alfa Romeo Racing
Kimi Raikkonen (10th, No Time): "I paid the price for my mistake which is a bit of a shame as the car was behaving pretty well. There is a lot of damage so we have to see where I'll start tomorrow, but maybe the weather will help and in mixed conditions we can still get a good result. I'll definitely try my best to make up ground in the race."
Antonio Giovinazzi (11th, 1:20.517): "It was a bit frustrating to miss out on Q3 for just two thousandths. I lost a little bit of time in the second chicane because one car went out and put gravel on the track, but this is the price you pay when the field is so tight. We wanted more but we still have a decent opportunity to have a good race. We have to take the positives, we get to choose our starting tires and I think it can be an advantage – assuming it doesn't rain. We are just outside the top ten – if we have a good start and a good strategy we can be right in the fight for points."
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: "Mixed feelings after today's qualifying session. The pace was there, the car was good and both drivers did a good job, but still it feels we could have achieved more. Antonio missed out on Q3 by a minimal margin and then Kimi crashed whilst he was on a strong lap. We will need to assess the damage on his car and then we'll know whether this has consequences for tomorrow's grid position."
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
Daniil Kvyat (13th, 1:20.630): "Unfortunately, today wasn't representative of our true pace. On the last lap in Q2 we caught quite a few cars and it became quite messy. I had a lot of traffic on my lap, where cars ahead were making mistakes and aborting their runs, and even coping with that, I still almost made it to Q3. It's a shame because I think we had Q3 within reach and we just made our life more difficult. We tried something different but it didn't work, so it's a good lesson for the future. It's not going to be easy but we will try as always to get into the points tomorrow. Our race pace didn't look too bad yesterday and our package looks quite competitive here, so if we prepare well and have a race like we had in Spa we should hopefully be on for a good result, to make it up for today."
Pierre Gasly (15th, 1:21.125): "It's been a positive Saturday for us. As we have the penalty this weekend, we focused on the long run this morning, trying to get a good read with the car on high fuel. However, we decided to give it a go in Qualifying to see what we had. I felt really good in the car and we were quite competitive, finishing ninth-quickest at the time. In Q2 we fitted the used tires from Q1 to get some laps in, as we knew we would start from the back of the grid. The car has been pretty good all weekend and we've shown good pace so, even with the penalty, I think we will have our chances in tomorrow's race and I'm excited to see what we can do."
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer: "The track conditions were slightly different compared to those we had yesterday, so we had to modify the setup to try and maintain the competitiveness we showed yesterday. We made several changes to the cars to adapt to the track, I think the FP3 performance shows that they were working well and the car was looking quite capable. We knew it would be tight to get into Q3, but there were signs it was possible if everything had gone to plan, although normally you would need a tow. Every session of today's Qualifying was a challenge for every team. Particularly in Q3, trying to get a tow in the end cost eight cars, as they could not get a final lap because they were focused on getting a slipstream. There were lots of cars on track in Q1 so it was difficult to get a good position, but we managed it, with both cars going through to Q2. Everything was going well but then we elected to deviate from the original plan trying to give Dany a bit of an extra hand to get into Q3. However, this didn't work and we ended up P13, with Pierre P15. That was disappointing as I think Pierre had a car that could out-qualify Norris, and now we'll start behind him on the grid, which is unfortunate. On the positive side, the car was showing good pace on the long runs so, even though we're not starting where we wanted to be, let's hope we will be able to repeat our strong performance from Spa last weekend."
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director: "As always in Monza, qualifying was exciting and very close, with teams using slipstreaming tactics to gain lap time. Kvyat was unable to get further than Q2, not getting a clean lap. Even before the start of the weekend, we knew that Verstappen and Gasly would be starting from the back of the grid, in order to switch to our Spec 4 PU. Overtaking is not too difficult at this track, so we expect all four of our cars to have a strong race tomorrow."
ROKiT Williams Racing
George Russell (18th, 1:21.800): "My first lap was very good, but my second run was a bit of a shame. I came out of turn five and one of the cars ahead of me had gone off through the gravel and brought a load of it back on, so I had no grip at the next corner. However, it is positive that we were closer to the rest of the field than expected and I can be happy with qualifying, as I feel that we did quite a good job to maximize our package."
Robert Kubica (19th, 1:22.356): "We knew it would not be an easy session for us, but that is how it is. The feeling up to qualifying in the car was not too bad, then in qualifying, the balance changed completely which was a bit disappointing to see. We have to see what the weather will do tomorrow and hope for the best."
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: "The improved weather this morning allowed all drivers to get some valuable experience on a dry and warm track. With most of Friday's sessions declared wet, all drivers were permitted to keep one set of the Friday tire allocation for use in FP3. We completed our final preparation for qualifying without issue, with both drivers assessing some small changes made to their respective set-ups overnight. In qualifying, the interruption to Q1 for the red flag led us to complete an additional run of a single timed lap at the end of the session. Robert was able to get a reasonably clear lap and set his best time of the session. Unfortunately for George, a car ahead ran wide and put some gravel on the track, which cost him enough time that he abandoned the lap. Fortunately, he had enjoyed a strong opening run and was able to set a good laptime early in the session. Conditions tomorrow could be a little mixed and this may give us an opportunity to benefit from the higher grid positions, which we will inherit after grid penalties are applied tonight."
Note - Verstappen, Norris and Gasly required to start from back of grid due to multiple power unit element changes.
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