ITALIAN GP – Valtteri Bottas secured pole but engine penalties drops him to last, putting Max Verstappen on pole ahead of Daniel Ricciardo

Testing & Race Reports

Valtteri Bottas took pole position in Sprint Qualifying but will start from the back of the grid thanks to an engine change meaning that Max Verstappen will start from pole for the Italian Grand Prix. The Finn finished the eighteen-lap race two seconds ahead of the Red Bull, the Dutchman making it three pole positions in three races.

Verstappen’s second place moves him five points ahead of championship rival Lewis Hamilton who starts the race from fourth on the grid. Hamilton was held off by McLaren’s Lando Norris during the closing stages, but the Mercedes appeared at times sliding around a bit on his tyres.

Red Bull opted not to take an engine change, unlike Bottas.

The two McLaren’s start second and third on the grid, with Verstappen’s former teammate Daniel Ricciardo starting along side him for the first time since Mexico City 2018. Ricciardo and his teammate Norris got Hamilton after the seven-time champion made a poor start losing positions from the start of the race, meaning he finished fifth and starts fourth on the grid.

Hamilton had also lost a position to Gasly early when the Frenchman squeezed him through Rettifilo, with Norris on his right-hand side before the Frenchman came to grief as he negotiated the Curva Grande.

The seven-time champion went into the race as the favourite but the poor start cost him the chance of a front row start and points. Hamilton had been the favourite to challenge his championship rival, but he dropped from second to fifth. The Mercedes driver also tried to find his way past fellow Englishman Norris.

He told reporters, “We lost a lot of points. Got to try and figure out how I can get by the McLarens tomorrow, and try to limit the damage. You saw the pace of the Red Bull. I don’t know if he was quicker than Valtteri but they’re so fast, and now he’s on pole. So it should be an easy win for him.”

McLaren has looked strong all weekend; however, they were the main benefactors from the troubles faced by Hamilton with them locking out the second row. But they have the challenge of keeping Hamilton behind him in the race tomorrow. The team know their battle in the championship is with Ferrari.

Verstappen said “The race was better than expected, we had good strategy and scored nice little points and I’m starting on pole for tomorrow. I’m going to give it a try and stay close.”

“We did trim our car to have decent top speed, so I’m not worried about out top speed in the race, but Mercedes have a very good pace in the whole lap, so I’ll try.”

The Ferrari’s both gained a place on the grid with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc finished sixth and seventh. The Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly who had started sixth crashed after tagging the left rear of Ricciardo, sending him across the gravel and into the barrier at Curva Grande.

Gasly was unhurt but was frustrated at losing such a promising grid position after another fantastic qualifying session. However, the Frenchman brought out the safety car for three laps, being the only major drama of the session. He had early on managed to get past Hamilton.

Gasly’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda meanwhile, made contact through the della Roggia chicane sending the Alfa Romeo of Robert Kubica into a spin. Although the Japanese driver gained a place, Kubica dropped to eighteenth by the end of the sprint qualifying.

Antonio Giovinazzi managed to retain his place in the top ten, finishing the sprint five seconds ahead of the Red Bull of Sergio Perez. Perez had tried serval attempts to try and pass the Alfa Romeo, but After attacking to the outside of the Rettilo Chicane, Perez cut across the raised kerbs in the runoff beyond and stayed ahead as the pair raced towards Curve Grande.

Red Bull ordered him to give the place back, which he did approaching Ascari on the same lap, and on the next tour Perez pulled off a similar move at the first corner to get in front of Stroll and then start his ultimately fruitless pursuit of Giovinazzi.

Lance Stroll managed to gain two places to put his Aston Martin tenth, despite the efforts made by Fernando Alonso. Stroll’s teammate Sebastian Vettel finished a second and three tenths behind the Alpine, with Alonso’s teammate Esteban Ocon finishing the race eight tenths behind.

Nicolas Latifi got past his Williams teammate George Russell to start fourteenth, after finishing eight tenths ahead of the Englishman. Tsunoda recovered from his clash with Kubica to take fifteenth, Nikita Mazepin made up two places in the race taking seventeenth ahead of Robert Kubica and Mick Schumacher.



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