Lewis Hamilton has steered clear of the chaos and drama around him to steal pole position for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix after edging out teammate Valtteri Bottas with a late lap in Q3.
The Mercedes duo seemed unsurmountable in qualifying trim, even with the ban of so-called party modes and were able to saunter to another front-row lockout without calling on the need of slipstream.
Hamilton had initially set the benchmark after everyone had set their opening attempts of Q3, but a brilliant final two sectors by Bottas briefly surged him ahead of his teammate, only to have the Brit string together a record-breaking 1.18.887s – the fastest lap in F1 history with an average speed of 264.362kmh.
Behind, Carlos Sainz delivered a sublime result for the Renault-powered quartet to end up third, eighth tenths adrift of Hamilton.
Sergio Perez finished fourth to complete the front two rows. Racing Point have their best opportunity for a podium result this year tomorrow given their straight-line speed dominance courtesy of their Mercedes power unit.
Max Verstappen was left frustrated for Red Bull as he could only muster the fifth quickest time and failed to deliver any punches to the top two, but was still four places up on teammate Alex Albon.
With a new technical directive enforced for the weekend which essentially outlaws qualifying engine modes, Honda and Red Bull should theoretically have been able to close the gap to Mercedes. Rather, the team have taken a significant step backwards.
“It’s just not a good weekend for us,” said Verstappen. “Really, from the start, we have been struggling for pace.
“It seems like at low downforce our car struggles a bit more with the sensitive rear just not really gripping up like it should do.”
The sister McLaren of Lando Norris put up another impressive performance to finish sixth as they thumped the works cars of its engine supplier Renault who saw Daniel Ricciardo end up seventh and Esteban Ocon in 12th.
In what was a painful home grand prix qualifying for Ferrari as its two cars failed to make Q3 for the second weekend in a row and the first time since 1984 that neither Ferrari car start inside the top-10 at Monza. Charles Leclerc led the Scuderia’s efforts in 13th, admitting that was the maximum he could get out of the car, while Sebastian Vettel suffered his first Q1 elimination of the season.
Though there are penalties expected to be dished out as the midfield runners squabbled over the tow on their final runs, seeing Kimi Raikkonen very nearly collect Ocon while Vettel clashed with Geroge Russell and both were forced to abandon their final laps.
Romain Grosjean made it no further than Q1 and will start 17th with his teammate finishing just ahead of him having escaped a wild off at the second Lesmo on what should have been his fastest Q2 lap.
Russell and Nicholas Latifi will start the final race for Williams under family management from the last two spots on the grid.