Flying Finn Valtteri Bottas sped to an outstanding lap to claim pole position for Saturday’s sprint qualifying format.
Bottas, who finished a tenth quicker than teammate Hamilton, was helping his Mercedes partner draft his way down the long straights at Monza and somehow still managed to top the time sheets!
Qualifying got off to a busy start with all drivers bunching up at the final bend, trying to build up a clear run down to the start line.
At Monza the ideal situation is to have a teammate roughly a second ahead so you can be towed down the long back straight and front straight into the finish line.
A normal flying lap without a tow is estimated to be 7 tenths slower than a flying lap with drafting.
That is why Bottas’s pole position lap was even more impressive as he was the one being drafted and had no assistance from Lewis.
Although the Mercedes driver set the fastest time in qualifying and will start on P1 for the sprint race. Valtteri will start at the back of the grid for the actual Grand Prix due to an engine upgrade penalty.
His number one qualifying spot is an integral part of the Mercedes plan and hope to take as many points away from Max Verstappen as possible.
Max is struggling with pace this weekend with his Red Bull still seeming to be set up for a higher downforce track such as last weekends Dutch GP at Zandvoort.
Verstappen still managed 3rd place on the grid for the trial qualifying format tomorrow but was 4 tenths, closer to half a second, off the pace of Bottas.
The other worry for the drivers this weekend are the track limits. The final turn (turn 11) is the most important runoff on the track entering the main straight.
Therefore, drivers are edging closer to the outer apex in order to maximise their momentum onto the straight.
Yuki Tsunoda seemed to be the first to feel the wrath of these regulations as his 15th placed time, which would of sent him into Q2, was deleted hence promoting Williams driver George Russell (who finished 15th in Q2).
Tomorrow’s sprint race is going to be an exciting one with the serious difference in pace of the teams. Mercedes have locked out the front row for the start but are actually disadvantaged in terms of their tow heading into the first chicane.
Will Mercedes finish 1-2? Or does Max have what it takes to break apart the pair of AMGs?
This is how the drivers will line up for the sprint race:
Featured image source: twitter.com/mercedesAMGF1