ITALIAN GP – Hamilton sails to pole in a heavily interrupted qualifying as Mercedes power lock out front two rows

Testing & Race Reports

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton has beaten Michael Schumacher’s pole position record and taking the pole position record at Monza, after beating the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Riccardo in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.

Hamilton put in a really strong lap in the changing conditions after the session was heavily delayed as heavy rain poured down throughout the afternoon. The Mercedes driver put in a lap going a second faster than his Red Bull rivals, in the closing moments of the session.

However, Williams’s Lance Stroll will join him on the front row and Esteban Ocon will start third as both Red Bulls have penalties for engine changes, with Mercedes Valtteri Bottas fourth. For Mercedes power, it’s the first front two rows lock out since Austria in 2014.

Hamilton said “To do this [the record] here at such a historic circuit, I’m going to have some pasta tonight to celebrate. I came across the line and I didn’t know if I had it but it felt a good lap. 69, I can’t believe it.”

Stroll told Sky Sports “It was a lot of fun. The car felt good and I just had fun. I’d never driven an F1 car in the wet so I just tossed it around. Hopefully we can have a good race from the front row.”

Monza was expected to play to the strengths of the Mercedes powered cars, which lock out the front two rows of the grid. But for both Stroll and Ocon it will be a decent result following the turbulent season’s they have had.

There Mercedes power should give them a slight advantage over the cars around them as the race is set to be dry. However, they make struggle to fend off the Ferrari’s.

It was a disappointing afternoon for Ferrari, who looked very strong and not far off the pace in the dry of Mercedes, they appeared as if they struggled to get the wet tyres to work. Kimi Raikkonen will start seventh and Sebastian Vettel eighth.

Felipe Massa and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne rounding out the top ten. The session began on time, but it soon became clear that there was too much standing water on track after Haas’s Romain Grosjean made a mistake.

The Frenchman aquaplaned into the barriers after sliding his car along the barriers and crash. That damaged the front wing and right rear wheel, with him saying “I told you it was too dangerous!” The rain intensified as the Haas was cleared away, his accident brought out the red flags and caused the session to be halted for around ninety minutes.

Force India’s Sergio Perez just missed out on Q3, being two-thousandths of a second slower than teammate Ocon and McLaren’s Vandoorne. Also, missing out was his former team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, the Renault driver struggled for grip on the intermediates.

Hulkenberg qualified twelfth ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, however, they will both be in a group of drivers who drop back because of grid penalties. Hulkenberg should start fifteenth and Alonso nineteenth.

That put them ahead of the Toro Rosso’s of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz, who also drops back thanks to a ten place penalty. Marcus Ericsson out qualified his Sauber team-mate Pascal Wehrlein at the back, but they are big gainers from the penalties, they start twelfth and thirteenth respectively.

With all the penalties applied Verstappen starts fifteenth, Hulkenberg sixteenth, Ricciardo seventeenth, Palmer eighteenth, Sainz nineteenth and Alonso twentieth.

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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