Leclerc take Monza pole in farce end to qualifying

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc achieved his fourth career pole position at Monza, scene of the Italian Grand Prix though the ending scenes was a complete farce.

Leclerc put his Ferrari on pole with a lap of one minute, 20.126 seconds on his first run in Q3, giving him an advantage of 0.039 seconds over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

But with the tow crucial at Monza, ahead of the second runs the ten Q3 drivers engaged in a ‘slow race’ for the ideal position to start their flying laps, with most failing to make to the end of the lap before the chequered flag.

This meant no driver was able to improve their lap time on the second run, with Hamilton complaining that the Ferrari drivers had held everyone up and “just timed everyone out”.

The stewards are investigating “the last lap of qualifying”, with drivers having previously been warned about slow out-laps.

To witness this makes the sport a laughing joke. With just two minutes to the end of Q3, the teams/drivers left until the final moment and with all that slipstream tactics coming into play, it was not a surprise to see all the drivers unable to complete a lap.

Valtteri Bottas, who just completed his first lap before the red flags flew in Q3 for Kimi Raikkonen spinning into the wall at Parabolica, was third fastest, just 0.0004 seconds slower than his teammate.

Sebastian Vettel was fourth quickest for Ferrari, a tenth off Bottas and ahead of the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo.

Nico Hulkenberg was sixth fastest ahead of Carlos Sainz, who was the slowest of the seven drivers to set a time in Q3.

Alex Albon, Lance Stroll and Raikkonen were classified eighth, ninth and tenth respectively with none of them having posted a time.

While Raikkonen’s was thanks to his first-run crash, the other two were unable to complete a lap thanks to the late-session chaos.

Antonio Giovinazzi showed how big a difference a tiny gap can make and ended up as the fastest of the five drivers eliminated in Q2 despite lapping just two thousandths slower than teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

The Alfa Romeo driver jumped Haas driver Kevin Magnussen with his final lap, with K-Mag ending up a tenth slower in P12 after failing to improve on his first Q2 run time.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was P13, with the rear stepping out at the exit of the second chicane on his final attempt and leading to him taking a bite of the gravel.

That lap was his fastest and was enough to put him ahead of two drivers who didn’t mount serious Q2 attempts thanks to having back-of-the-grid penalties for power unit changes – McLaren’s Lando Norris and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.

Romain Grosjean was quickest of those eliminated in the first segment of qualifying in P16 despite lapping just 0.658 seconds off Q1 pacesetter Leclerc.

The Haas driver was in trouble after the first runs in Q1, which were separated by a four-minute red flag caused by Sergio Perez’s Racing Point stopping on track, but did improve on the second attempt.

This temporarily put him into the top 15, but improvements by Sainz and Stroll meant he missed out on advancing after lapping 0.061 seconds slower than Kvyat.

Perez, who ground to a halt at Curva Grande after suffering a loss of power at the end of his first run, ended up P17.

The red flag didn’t cause much disruption as it fell between the first and second runs of the drivers, although Vettel was on a lap that was set to improve on mediums that he had to abandon and subsequent did go out on softs as a precautionary measure and did not set a time.

George Russell won the intra-Williams battle for slowest driver in qualifying, 0.556 seconds faster than Robert Kubica.

That put them P18 and P19, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen not setting a time after reporting a lack of power on his run.

Verstappen was always set to start at the rear thanks to being one of three drivers with a back-of-the-grid penalty, along with Gasly and Norris.

So a bizarre end to qualifying with the drivers playing games on how to position themselves for slipstream. The final result was missing out as the Q3 session ended.

At least Charles Leclerc continues to impress with yet another pole position and looks the favourite in scoring a win at the Scuderia’s home track.

Italian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:19.307
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.346
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:19.354
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:19.457
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:19.839
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:20.049
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren-Renault 1:20.989
8 Alexander Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:20.021
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:20.515
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:20.498
11 Antonio Giovinazzo Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:20.517
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:20.615
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1:20.630
14 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:21.068
15 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:21.125
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:20.784
17 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:21.291
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:21.800
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1:21.356
20 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda –

6 thoughts to “Leclerc take Monza pole in farce end to qualifying”

  1. Italian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Italy was sent into raptures after an extraordinary qualifying at Monza, as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc claimed his second consecutive pole position when his rivals failed to properly judge the time needed to set their final qualifying runs, meaning only Leclerc and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz made it across the finish line to start their second flying laps in Q3.

    As the drivers emerged back on track following a stoppage caused by Kimi Raikkonen crashing his Alfa Romeo, all were holding back so as to take advantage of the tow around Monza. But with the clock ticking down, there were farcical scenes as seven of the remaining cars in the segment – including the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas and the second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel – approached the line to start their final laps only to face a waved chequered flag.

    That meant that Leclerc claimed pole position from Hamilton by 0.039s, the Monegasque’s first fastest lap good enough to secure his fourth career pole position, and Ferrari’s second in a row here.

    Bottas was third for Mercedes, 0.047s behind Leclerc, while Vettel was fourth. Impressive pace from the two Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg throughout qualifying saw the Anglo-French team lock out the third row of the grid ahead of Sainz – who unfortunately for him wasn’t able to improve on his original lap, despite being the only other driver to cross the line to attempt a final effort.

    Red Bull’s Alex Albon and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll in P8 and P9 both failed to set a Q3 time, meanwhile, as did Raikkonen, who crashed at the Parabolica while attempting his first flying lap in Q3.

    Q1 – Leclerc shades impressive Hulkenberg as Perez stoppage brings out red flag

    A note from Race Director Michael Masi ahead of the session enforced a minimum speed for drivers’ laps to make sure they weren’t running too slowly when preparing for their runs as they waited for other drivers to pass them and give them an aerodynamic tow.

    That meant teams had to be extra canny in putting their drivers out in just the right place on track to gain a slipstreaming advantage. Renault were the team that really maximised the effect, Ricciardo going P5 while Hulkenberg ended the session in a stunning P2, just 0.029s off Ferrari’s Leclerc – who set his time, like Vettel, on the medium tyres, while everyone else was on softs.

    He may be set to start from the back of the grid anyway, but there were worries for Verstappen as he reported issues with his Red Bull’s Honda power unit on the one run he had in the session.

    There was a brief stoppage, meanwhile, when Sergio Perez pulled off with what looked to be his second power unit issue in as many weekends in his Racing Point. And having not set a time good enough to put him any higher than P17 when he stopped, he found himself out in Q1 – meaning team mate Lance Stroll out-qualified him for the first time this year.

    Out with Perez went Haas’s Romain Grosjean, narrowly pushed into the drop zone in the final moments of the session, along with Williams’ George Russell in P18 ahead of team mate Robert Kubica and the time-less Verstappen – Russell, incidentally, making it 14-0 in the qualifying stakes at Williams this year.

    Knocked out: Grosjean, Perez, Russell, Kubica, Verstappen

    Q2 – Hamilton heads timesheets for first time ahead of Leclerc

    Hamilton and Mercedes found themselves outpacing Ferrari for the first time of the weekend in the middle segment of qualifying, the world champion heading Leclerc by a tiny 0.089s at the end of Q2, having been generously towed around Monza by team mate Bottas, as Vettel was third.

    Cruelly turfed out of Q2 was Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who missed out on a place in Q3 at his home track by just 0.002s to team mate Raikkonen. He was eliminated along with the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen, plus the Toro Rosso pair of Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly, split by the McLaren of Lando Norris.

    With Norris set to start from the back of the grid in Sunday’s race anyway, he was nice enough to tow team mate Sainz into the top 10 – a top 10 populated by no fewer than seven teams, the Renaults once again showing decent pace with their skinny-winged R.S.19 to go P4 and P8, while Lance Stroll also secured his first Q3 appearance of the season for Racing Point at a track he appears to thrive on.

    Knocked out: Giovinazzi, Magnussen, Kvyat, Norris, Gasly

    Q3 – Leclerc takes pole as rivals get it all wrong

    Having put his Alfa Romeo in the wall at Parabolica during Free Practice 1 in Italy, Raikkonen repeated the trick as he was attempting to set his first quick lap in Q3, his C38 snapping around on him before backing itself into the barriers. Fortunately, Raikkonen was able to make it out of the car under his own steam, but it meant another red flag.

    As the drivers headed back out on track again when the session restarted – with no one wanting to come out first and this lose the chance of that all-important tow – there followed one of the most bizarre ends to a qualifying session in F1 history.

    With all drivers hanging back through the first part of their warm-up laps, it soon became apparent that the majority had misjudged the timing and were going to miss the cut-off. And so it was that as the cameras picked up the cars rounding the Parabolica to begin their final flying laps, they also picked up a cheerily waving chequered flag, meaning that seven out of the nine remaining runners were unable to attempt an improvement on their times.

    It was a scene dramatic enough to earn a spot in the nearby Scala opera house – but the tifosi won’t mind a bit, seeing as how their new hero Leclerc was one of the two drivers to cross the line in time. In the end, however, his first lap was good enough to allow him to slacken his pace and take in the applause of the crowd as he took pole position, as Sainz also failed to improve.

    That meant Ferrari secured pole for the second year in a row at Monza – and the second consecutive race too – to the delight of the local crowd. However, Vettel not making it across the line in time was sub-optimal for the Scuderia, allowing Hamilton to start from second on the grid – the same position he started from last year, before overtaking a Ferrari to take the win…

    Renault, meanwhile, will also have been ecstatic to have taken their best qualifying of the season, with Ricciardo and Hulkenberg P5 and P6. But ultimately, the day belonged to Leclerc, who’d looked well-placed to take that pole anyway, even without all the shenanigans going on behind him!

  2. Italian Grand Prix qualifying “mess” under investigation by the stewards with the ending to Q3 an epic fail in terms of setting a lap time. has the news story.

    Formula 1’s top qualifiers are under investigation for bizarre tactics in the final runs of Q3 as qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix descended in to a farce.

    With drivers eager to get a slipstream for the final run of qualifying, the leaders all jostled for position in a train of cars as they went through the first chicane.

    Nico Hulkenberg went across the run-off area at the first chicane, and the following car of Lance Stroll then backed off to ensure he did not overtake the Renault. Behind him everyone else backed off to try to not move to the front of the train.

    As the drivers all tried to hold back, in the end they got their timing wrong as the time counted down – meaning only Carlos Sainz as the car that had moved to the front and the following car of Charles Leclerc made it across the line before time ran out.

    After the session that FIA – which had warned drivers about the possibility of penalties for qualifying tactics – announced that the last lap was under investigation.

    Pole position man Leclerc said: “I am happy with the pole but a shame at the end there was a big mess.”

    Stroll described it as a ‘comedy show’, while Lewis Hamilton, who ended up on the front row, echoed his comments from Spa last weekend when he suggested drivers slowing down to get a tow was not safe.

    “It is crazy with the system we have,” Hamilton said. “With everyone backing up and trying to get a position, they timed us out. It is interesting – get pole position in the first run and time us out.

    “On the out lap it is dangerous for all of us – with people slowing down and you don’t know who is alongside you. It is a risky business out there.”

    On Friday, the F3 qualifying session was red-flagged for drivers messing around with slipstreams, with 17 of the 30 drivers penalised for their behaviour.

  3. World champion Lewis Hamilton commented that the rules won’t change until someone crashes. has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton thinks the changes needed to avoid a repeat of the farce that marred the closing minutes of qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix will only come when there is a crash.

    Most drivers who made it through to Q3 failed to set a second laptime when, after deliberately slowing down to try to stay in a train of cars for a slipstream, they ran out of time.

    The behaviour of the drivers is under investigation by the FIA, with Nico Hulkenberg the first to be called to see the stewards for having driven off the track at the first chicane in a move that appeared to be to avoid himself running at the front of the pack.

    Hamilton, who missed an attempt to try to knock Charles Leclerc off pole position, labelled the situation “dangerous” – just a week on from making a similar remark in Belgium when drivers also deliberately slowed down to better get a slipstream.

    The world champion suggested that only an accident would prompt action for change.

    Asked if there was a risk of the situation being repeated again, Hamilton said: “I am sure it is going to be continue, as positioning is key.

    “If everyone is going out so late it will continue to be an issue in places where you particularly need a tow. It won’t be until someone crashes that they will change.”

    One suggestion Hamilton did have to sort the matter would be introduce a different qualifying format for venues where the tow was so extreme.

    “We are all trying to get a gap which continues to be key,” he explained. “In some places you want a bigger gap, and some places it is about the tow. These are track specific.

    “I always thought they could do something different on different weekends anyway depending on the track but highly unlikely that will happen.”

    Pole position man Leclerc hopes that F1 would learn lessons from what happened in Italy to try to ensure things improve for the future.

    “It is only a few tracks where we have this issue,” said the Ferrari driver. “I have no quick fix to try and help this quickly, but maybe we can all think about it to try to understand.

    “It has always been like this, and slipstream has always been this way. We just need to analyse a bit more the situation. Today was special and definitely not intentional from our side, as Seb was also capable of having the pole position and we didn’t want to sacrifice one car for the pole of the other.

    “It was quite tricky. I definitely think that situations like after the second corner should not happen. When two cars are side by side, they cannot go at 20kph. We could not go past and most of the cars behind wanted to pass, but didn’t have the opportunity.”

    Hamilton agreed that F1 should look at ways of making things better, and look beyond handling out penalties to drivers.

    “It is the system that needs to shift a little, but I don’t think we need to start handing out penalties. We need to look at it and reflect and see what we can do to make it better: make it better for the fans and make it less dangerous.

    “Already they made a change today that we had to finish the out lap with a certain delta time but even that is too slow. There are improvements we can make for sure, for safety and for the spectators that watch.”

  4. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel said he was “not happy” that his Ferrari team didn’t follow its Q3 plan. has the full details.

    Sebastian Vettel has admitted the final Italian Grand Prix qualifying segment left him “not happy”, as he feels his Ferrari Formula 1 team didn’t follow its planned strategy.

    Vettel ran first on the road during the opening run of Q3, and posted a time only good enough for fourth place as teammate Charles Leclerc benefitted from a tow further in the pack to secure provisional pole.

    Leclerc was supposed to run ahead of Vettel on the second run, but a messy final out-lap with cars jockeying for position meant Vettel was among the many cars failing to start a flying lap in time.

    He was thus consigned to fourth on the grid, as Leclerc went unchallenged for pole – although the events of the session remain under investigation.

    “I think we went out late, everyone, and then obviously you always look for a tow,” Vettel said. “It was my turn to get a tow, I was the one first in Q3 to give a tow, and the one second to receive a tow, but obviously we waited too long, so in the end there was no margin.

    “Not happy. The lap was really good that I had on my own, I just had no tow.

    “I think we just didn’t execute what we thought to do today. Anyways, for the team it’s good, it’s a good result, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

    Vettel was seventh in the overall running order, and behind Leclerc, as the cars ventured out of the pits for the second run in Q3.

    But as the pack bunched up at the Rettifilo chicane, Vettel overtook Leclerc exiting the corner and now found himself sat behind Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg, gesticulating wildly for the cars around him to get a move on.

    He overtook the pair in time for the second chicane, but waited for Leclerc while running at the front and was passed back by Sainz.

    Leclerc then ultimately got ahead on the run down to the Parabolica, but the four-time champion subsequently ran out of time to start a flying lap.

    Asked for his view of the events, Leclerc said: “There was the huge mess in front of Turn 1 and 2, and the McLaren and Renault stopped in the middle of the track and we had nowhere to go.

    “Seb overtook me there, with the mess, because obviously we were aware it was quite tight on time. And then I stayed basically behind Seb until the last straight, where I heard also on the radio ‘you can overtake Seb’, so I overtook him.

    “I don’t think I could’ve done much more.”

    Vettel said he was surprised Leclerc had passed him where he did, saying that by then “there was no point”.

    “I thought internally we had a better way that we communicated this – I was the one out front alone in the first run and I shouldn’t have been the one in front in the second run, which, because of the last corner [overtake] I wasn’t, but at that point I was too close anyway, plus the session was over so I couldn’t even make it to start the lap, so I can’t be happy with that,” Vettel said.

    “He [Leclerc] should’ve been ahead all the way. Anyways, happy with the car, the qualifying was good, the car was very good, I had a very good lap, I just had no tow – that’s the difference between pole and no pole today.”

  5. Honda explains Max Verstappen’s power loss in Q1. has the news story.

    Max Verstappen’s loss of power in Italian Grand Prix qualifying was caused by excessive wheelspin triggering the activation of a Honda Formula 1 engine protection mode and an FIA system.

    The Red Bull driver failed to set a time in the first part of qualifying when he reported “no power” exiting the first chicane.

    He returned to the pitlane at the end of that lap and will start the race at the back of the grid, behind other drivers who have engine penalties this weekend.

    Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe said that Verstappen got excessive wheelspin going over a kerb.

    He said that triggered a spike in engine revs and caused both a “Honda protection mode and then an FIA system to cut in and reduce power”.

    Verstappen was second fastest in final practice at Monza, where he is using Honda’s upgraded Spec 4 engine for the first time.

    Alex Albon only qualified seventh, surprisingly behind both works Renaults, although was one of many drivers not to get a second flying lap in a farcical end to the session.

    While Verstappen was left to bemoan his problem he does not anticipate a recurrence.

    “I’ve done my long runs so I’m pretty confident,” said Verstappen. “It has never happened before in the race.”

    Verstappen is also hopeful there will be no repeat of his complicated startline issues from the Belgian Grand Prix

    “I had a few starts this morning and they felt good. I think there is room to improve, you never have a perfect start.

    “It was pretty decent, but of course starting from the back it’s not really highlighted.”

  6. Nico Hulkenberg said that a massive 0.5 second slipstream boost was to blame for the qualifying farce at Monza, as the FIA began summoning a number of drivers over what happened.

    The final minutes of Q3 for the Italian Grand Prix descended into a fiasco as nine drivers all tried to back off to avoid being at the head of a train of cars.

    But in going slowly they managed to time themselves out and most failed to get across the line to start a final Q3 lap – with only Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc getting a second attempt in.

    The FIA has begun an investigation in to what happened, and is expected to call a number of drivers to judge if they breached the rules by driving unnecessarily slowly.

    So far, Renault’s Hulkenberg has been called up for running off track at the first chicane and then driving unnecessarily slowly, with Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll also requested to attend as part of that investigation.

    Regarding what happened at the first chicane, the stewards accepted his excuse that he had been so focused on what was going on behind him that he misjudged braking for the first corner and missed his braking point.

    “I was watching my mirrors too much,” he said, when asked by about what happened.

    While the investigation in to the slow driving continues, Hulkenberg said that drivers had no choice but to behave that way because of the big benefit of the tow.

    “I think it’s up to half a second,” he said. “It’s significant laptime.

    Speaking about the moment when he drove slowly on the run to the second chicane, Hulkenberg said: “Yeah, we were all going slow at that point until everybody realised there’s no time to go slow and it was all a bit tricky, a bit critical.

    “It’s just that the tow effect here is massive with the wake of the cars and nobody wants to be the first guy cutting through the air and that’s the result of that, the side effect.

    “I think Monza is probably the worst place for it but now going forward I don’t expect it to be that extreme any more.”

    It is unclear how many drivers will be called up by the stewards as part of their investigation in to what happened in qualifying, but Mercedes boss Toto Wolff suggested all nine drivers should be spoken to.

    “I just had a text message exchange with [sporting director] Ron Meadows whether there was any news, and he said no, not yet,” explained Wolff. “But if I were them, I would call them all.”


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