Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest ever pole lap on his way to beating his teammate Sebastian Vettel to pole for Ferrari’s home Italian Grand Prix. The Finn inadvertently gained a tow from his German teammate who went a tenth and a half second, giving the team a first front row lockout since 2000.
Vettel seemed annoyed that Ferrari had got there timing wrong, they had planned to give the German the tow. It was a strange move as Vettel is ahead of Raikkonen in the championship, he was seeming angry with the team saying, “we will speak about this afterwards.”
Raikkonen’s lap a 19.119, was four tenths faster than the outright fastest lap in a Formula One Car, which was set by Juan Pablo Montoya in 2004.
It was a session which saw both Ferrari’s and Mercedes all within half a second, as the times fell through the battle for pole was one which saw the tiniest gaps between the two teams. Hamilton did improve on his final run getting within a tenth of Vettel.
Raikkonen said “That was epic. The pressure was unbelievable.”
Hamilton said “We gave it everything we could – it’s obviously incredibly close between us but they’ve had the upper hand this weekend. Everyone in the team is working as hard as they can to make the difference.”
Valtteri Bottas has struggled all weekend and was fourth half a second off Raikkonen. But the gap between Raikkonen and Bottas was half a second, but it was a great performance from the Mercedes given the advantage that Ferrari has this weekend.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fifth fastest, as expected the Dutchman was unable to fight amongst the top two teams given the power deficit of the Renault power unit. He was over one second off the overall pace, but that was expected.
Haas’s Romain Grosjean was sixth fastest, ahead of the Renault of Carlos Sainz. Force India’s Esteban Ocon was eighth fastest ahead of Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll. The Canadian getting his best qualifying since this race last year when he started fourth.
Both Kevin Magnussen and Fernando Alonso dropped out after a clash on track. The McLaren was behind the Haas driver when they began there fast run in Q2, before Alonso attempted to pass Magnussen into Vaniante Goodyear, but Magnussen defended into the corner. Both failed to make it into Q3, Magnussen eleventh and Alonso thirteenth.
The stewards will investigate the incident after qualifying.
Nico Hulkenberg made it through to Q2, however, following the shunt at La Source in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, opted not to set a time as he was awarded a grid penalty. That means he will start from the back, with that in mind, Renault has taken a new power unit.
Sergio Perez missed out on Q2 by just a thousandth of a second, the Force India driver struggled for grip in the closing moments of the session.
Charles Leclerc was another casualty of the tiny margins, the Sauber driver missed out on Q2 by a thousandth of a second. But it was a very tight midfield, the gap in Q1 between eighth and sixteenth was just four-hundredths of a second.
Brendon Hartley was eighteenth fastest ahead of the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson in nineteenth. For the second race in a row, Stoffel Vandoorne was the slowest, as his career remains in the balance.