Hamilton sets new track record to pole position at Monza

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his seventh Italian Grand Prix pole, with the fastest ever lap in Formula 1 at the Temple of Speed.

Valtteri Bothas will form a Mercedes front row at Monza with an impressive Carlos Sainz Jr taking third for McLaren as Max Verstappen is pushed down to fifth position.

Sergio Perez ended up fourth, while the Ferraris were knocked out in the two segments of qualifying, with last year’s winner Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel ending up P13 and P17 respectively.

Unlike in 2019, the final runs in Q3 did not feature farcical scenes of the drivers jostling to get space for the optimum slipstream, but these actions did occur at the end of Q1 – with Vettel caught up.

Hamilton was ahead of the first runs in Q3 had been completed, with the two Mercedes cars not bothering with a tow as Bottas ran clear ahead of his teammate and Hamilton towed the rest of the pack.

Bottas had to close a 0.053 seconds gap on the final runs, and although he found time in all three sectors Hamilton ran faster to claim his seventh career pole at the Italian Grand Prix.

The world champion was fractionally slower in the final sector on his last run, but it did not cost him as he wound up ahead of Bottas by 0.069 seconds.

Sainz demoted Perez to fourth as the Racing Point driver was the only driver not to set a personal best on his final run in Q3.

Verstappen complained that he was “losing time on the straights” even as he ran closer to other cars on his first Q3 run, and although he found time on his last lap he wound up fifth, with Lando Norris sixth in the other McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo ended up seventh for Renault as he could not recreate his eye-catching pace versus his rivals in FP2, with Lance Stroll eighth.

Alex Albon did not have a time on the board heading into the final runs in Q3 after losing his first lap to a track limits violation at the Parabolica, but he kept his second and ended up ninth, as Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten.

At the end of Q2, few drivers improved at the end of the middle segment, where no drivers tried to get through on the medium tyres, which means the top ten will all start the race on the red-walled soft compound.

Daniil Kvyat finished P11, with Esteban Ocon knocked out despite running behind teammate Ricciardo early in his final Q2 lap to try and take advantage of the tow.

But Ricciardo put his left-side wheels off into the gravel as he exited the second chicane and he later slowed and abandoned his lap, with Ocon finishing his final flyer and not improving.

Leclerc ended up P13, calling his Q2 lap “the best I can do”, as Ferrari was again exposed by its straightline speed issues with the SF1000.

Kimi Raikkonen and Kevin Magnussen made it through to Q2, but Magnussen ran very wide into the gravel as he flew through the second Lesmo, which ruined his final lap in the middle segment.

In Q1, Vettel was the highest-profile casualty of race-like scenes on the final runs in the opening segment, where backing-up at the Parabolica meant several drivers – including the Ferrari driver fought for space at the right-hander and down the main straight.

Raikkonen and Ocon made it through to Q2, but nearly collided as the Alfa Romeo driver ran close to the Renault exiting the Curva Grande, with the former abandoning his final run in Q1.

But the chaos meant Nicholas Latifi, who was also involved, running just behind Ocon and Raikkonen and ahead of Vettel, was the only driver to set a personal best, although he still ended up P20 and last.

Romain Grosjean ended up just on the wrong side of the elimination cut off in P16, ahead of Vettel, who abandoned his final Q1 run as a result of the chaos earlier in the lap.

Behind Vettel came Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell, who criticised his Williams team over his radio for getting involved in the chaotic scenes – he followed Raikkonen and Ocon into the first corners – and not “capitalising” on the “f**k ups”.

Ocon, Raikkonen and Latifi will be investigated after qualifying.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with yet another fine qualifying performance. Even with the so-called ‘party mode’ banned, the qualifying speed in that Mercedes W11 is just unreal. Significant performance advantage. Bring on the Temple of Speed racing action!

Italian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.887
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:18.956
3 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:19.695
4 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:19.720
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:19.795
6 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:19.820
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:19.864
8 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:20.049
9 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:20.090
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:20.177
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:20.169
12 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:20.234
13 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:20.273
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:20.926
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:21.573
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:21.139
17 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:21.151
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:21.206
19 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:21.587
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:21.717

6 thoughts to “Hamilton sets new track record to pole position at Monza”

  1. Italian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    It was a private battle for pole position at Monza between the two Mercedes cars – and when it counted, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton got the job done once more, pipping team mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.069s as Ferrari failed to get a car in the top 10 at their home race for the first time since 1984…

    At points during qualifying, Bottas’ pace was such that it suggested he was very much in the fight for pole, but he simply had no response to Hamilton’s brilliance in Q3. This was Hamilton’s 68th pole for Mercedes, which ties the number Michael Schumacher (second in the all-time list) achieved in his entire career.

    Behind the sensational Mercedes, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz came out on top in a qualifying-long battle with Sergio Perez in the Racing Point for third, the Spaniard sealing his second P3 of the season and McLaren’s third of the season. It’s also McLaren’s first top-three start at Monza since they locked out the front row in 2012.

    Perez will start fourth for the eighth time in his F1 career, without having ever started in the top three, with Max Verstappen classified as fifth, meaning Red Bull have failed to start on the front two rows of the grid at Monza since the turbo hybrid era began in 2014.

    There was less good news for Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel getting caught out in Q1, which forced him out in the first segment, meaning he will start P17. Charles Leclerc didn’t fair much better, the Monagasque saying he did the best he could, but that was only good enough for P13 – it’s the Scuderia’s worst qualifying performance at their home race for over 35 years.

    Lando Norris pipped Daniel Ricciardo to take seventh, in what is his 15th consecutive race starting in the top 10, with Lance Stroll eighth and Alexander Albon – who had three laps deleted for exceeding track limits – ninth.

    AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly closed out the top 10, as his team seek their first points finish at Monza since 2013.

    Q1 – Vettel gets the boot as drivers squabble for position

    Track limits have been a talking point all weekend at Monza, and they played a key role early on with Charles Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen, Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon among those to get their lap times wiped out for straying too far over the white lines.

    That heaped the pressure on them to deliver next time around, but there was no such trouble for Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas the only drivers to run the medium tyres – and they eased into P1 and P2.

    As the field prepared for the final runs, there was a squabbling for position on the straight down to Parabolica and then on the run down to Turn 1, some of them going wheel-to-wheel.

    There were some close moments, too, with Kimi Raikkonen almost clattering into the back of Esteban Ocon.

    Sebastian Vettel came off badly in the chaos, the German furious with the Alfa Romeos, which meant he failed to get a clean lap and thus forced him out in the first part of qualifying – his first Q1 exit since the 2019 German Grand Prix.

    It means the four-time world champion has now failed to make Q3 in four successive race weekends.

    Romain Grosjean, Antonio Giovinazzi and the Williams duo of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi all failed to progress.

    Knocked out: Grosjean, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi

    Q2 – Mercedes stay well clear, as Leclerc gets dumped out

    Hamilton beat Bottas to the top time after the first runs, with the Silver Arrows swapping to the soft compound for this session – in line with all of their rivals. Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz were their closest challengers, evenly matched and three tenths off the pace.

    After the first runs, everyone waited in their garages waiting for someone else to blink. The Renaults eventually made the move, Ricciardo heading out and of Ocon. They pulled away and did their own thing, which ruled them out of getting a tow but at least put them out of the squabble.

    But Ricciardo got it all out and got it all wrong and backed out of his lap after a trip across the gravel trap. Elsewhere, Bottas went quickest, setting a new track record, 0.15s quicker than team mate Hamilton. This time, Sainz went third quickest, swapping places with Perez.

    Albon scraped through in 10th, but there was more misery for Ferrari as Leclerc could only go 13th quickest, making it the first time Ferrari have not had at least one car in the top 10 at Monza since 1984.

    Knocked out: Kvyat, Ocon, Leclerc, Raikkonen, Magnussen

    Q3 – Hamilton on song as Sainz stars

    Hamilton didn’t mess about on his first run in Q3, pumping in a lap that put team mate Bottas in the shade, heaping all the pressure on the Finn in the process.

    Perez slotted into third, ahead of Verstappen, with Sainz down in fifth as Albon ran wide again to have his lap time deleted.

    Second time around, Hamilton went even quicker, with Bottas improving too but by not enough and he ended up second – meaning Mercedes have their first front row lockout at Monza since 2016.

    Sainz, meanwhile, hooked up a far better lap to bolt up two places to third, with Perez and Verstappen failing to respond.

  2. Last year’s Italian Grand Prix winner Charles Leclerc had a difficult qualifying session in 2020. Leclerc commented that Ferrari struggles “hurt even more” at Monza. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc says his team’s struggles “hurt even more” at Monza after neither of the Maranello outfit’s cars made it into Q3 at Monza.

    Leclerc could manage only 13th place in Q2, while his teammate Sebastian Vettel failed to progress from the first session, and will start 17th.

    It’s the first time since 1984 that there are no Ferraris in the top 10 on the grid of the Italian GP.

    On that occasion Michele Alboreto started 11th and Rene Arnoux 14th, although on a Sunday afternoon of high attrition the former rose to second place by the flag.

    This weekend’s Monza event comes immediately after a disappointing race at Spa, another venue featuring high speed and a low downforce set-up, where Vettel and Leclerc finished 13th and 14th.

    “At the end we expected it a little bit coming into this weekend,” Leclerc told Sky F1.

    “We know that Spa and here are probably the two worst tracks for us, with another one probably a bit later in the year. It’s like this, it’s tough, because once you do a good lap and you do P13, it doesn’t feel good.

    “For now it’s like this, and I need to extract the maximum out of the car in the situation we are in, and that’s what I try to do.

    “Surely, it hurts even more once it’s at home. It’s a reality at the moment for us unfortunately. We need to work, and hopefully for Mugello, which is still home for Ferrari, we’ll be a bit better.”

    He added: “I hope that from next race onwards we’ll see a light at the end of the tunnel, because that’s two very tough weekends for us, where we are trying things on the car.

    “We don’t find a way through for now, we need to keep our head down, stay motivated, and better days will be coming.”

    A frustrated Vettel was compromised in Q1 by a queue of cars at the start of the final runs, which prevented him from getting a clear lap.

    “There was no point to start overtaking each other,” rued the German. “There’s the minimum time, so it should be that everyone is making it. The moment you start overtaking, it’s causing trouble. That’s what it was.”

  3. George Russell was left frustrated after feeling Williams missed the chance to capitalise on a “comical” Formula 1 qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix.

    The opening stage of qualifying at Monza was marred by a number of drivers bunching up at Parabolica in a bid to get a tow on cars ahead, and led to many going side-by-side during their hot laps.

    Russell got stuck behind Kimi Raikkonen and Esteban Ocon during his final qualifying lap, meaning he was unable to improve on his final effort and qualified 19th.

    Russell vented his frustration over team radio to Williams, saying: “What on earth are we playing out? We need to be the ones capitalising on these f**k ups, not the ones in the f**k up.”

    Speaking after the session, Russell said he felt an opportunity for Williams to advance to Q2 had been missed amid the late traffic.

    “We are the slowest team on the grid, we’ve had some incredible Saturdays, but we need an extreme circumstance to give us that opportunity,” Russell said.

    “Today was one of those ridiculous circumstances, and we were absolutely in the thick of it. Ridiculous.

    “It all starts from where you’re sent out of the pit lane. I’m not pointing fingers at anybody, but everybody is in the same boat.

    “I don’t know why every single team sends their cars at the exact same time, because you know exactly what is going to happen.”

    The issue of cars bunching up was evident in final practice when Lewis Hamilton was forced to drive on the grass heading to the final corner due to cars going slowly.

    “Maybe they just need to, maybe in constructors’ championship order, that’s when you’re sent out of the pit lane, and you leave five-second intervals between each car or something,” Russell suggested.

    “Like I say, it’s very circuit specific. Everyone is looking for that slipstream, no one is looking to lead.

    “I’m trying to fight my way through, and no one wants to be stuck behind a Williams, because it catches up during the lap! Everyone’s blocking from me.

    “There’s going to be a crash. It was a little bit comical.”

    None of the bottom six cars in Q1 managed to improve on their final laps, meaning that Romain Grosjean, Sebastian Vettel, Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicholas Latifi all joined Russell in the drop zone.

    Renault driver Ocon is under investigation for blocking Raikkonen and Latifi during Q1, but Raikkonen felt there was nothing to be looked into.

    “I don’t know what they want to investigate,” Raikkonen said.

    “We’re allowed to race in the end, and the only thing, he was squeezing me off, but I don’t know.

    “In the end, nobody did anything wrong. It just happened to try to start the lap close to each other. That’s what happens sometimes.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  4. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz admitted he left feeling “shaking” after “messing up” Monza P3 lap. Motorsport.com has the full details.

    Carlos Sainz said he was left “shaking” after qualifying because of the effort needed to rescue the lap that earned him third place on the grid for the Italian Grand Prix.

    The McLaren driver had looked strong throughout qualifying, but nearly threw away all his efforts on his final run in Q3 when he almost lost control of his car at the first Lesmo corner.

    Knowing that he needed to make up for the time lost, Sainz risked everything over the remainder of the lap before pulling off a slot on the second row – and the effort left him drained afterwards.

    “On the last lap I nearly messed up,” explained the Spaniard. “I had a big moment in Lesmo 1, and I nearly lost it. After that, I had to drive like this [on the edge] and I’m actually shaking a bit because in Parabolica and Ascari I had to really concentrate.

    “I felt like I had nailed Q1, Q2 and Q3 run one. So I was waiting for Q3 run two, and the lap didn’t start very well.

    “I was already needing some very strong final few corners and I really went for it. I risked a lot and, after the dive I did into Ascari, I was a bit like ‘woah, that was way too late!’”

    Sainz’s performance was a surprise with many having expected Renault and Red Bull to be battling it out as best-of-the-rest behind Mercedes.

    But the team’s decision to opt for an ultra low drag solution this weekend appears to have paid dividends, although Sainz is still unsure of the exact reasons why McLaren is so strong at Monza.

    “I would like to be able to answer that specifically, but at the moment I can’t,” he said. “We’ve just been very quick today.

    “Honestly, I felt since Q1 we had the upper hand on the rest of the midfield and I just needed to put some clean laps together. But yeah, we’re running very low downforce which on our car last year didn’t work. Our downforce was just falling off whenever we ran very little rear wing.

    “This year somehow our car is a bit more robust at running lower downforce levels and in Spa it started to pay off. Here in Monza, we have a strong car under braking, which means we can brake late, and we have a strong car for Parabolica and Ascari, which obviously helps.”

  5. The irony that Red Bull wanted to ban the so-called qualifying ‘party mode’ to level out the playing field, even though Mercedes is still quicker. Valtteri Bottas said “not sure how happy Red Bull is” with engine mode change. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Valtteri Bottas is “not sure how happy Red Bull is now” with the ban on Formula 1 engine ‘party modes’ after Mercedes dominated qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.

    Mercedes swept to a front row lock-out at Monza as Lewis Hamilton scored his 94th F1 pole position, edging out teammate Bottas.

    Third-placed driver Carlos Sainz from McLaren was a distant eight tenths of a second off the pole time, while Hamilton’s lap was a new track record, setting the fastest average lap speed in F1 history.

    Mercedes’ domination came despite the FIA’s ban on changing engine modes through qualifying and the race via a technical directive, stopping teams from using their high-power setting, also known as “party mode”.

    Bottas said after qualifying that he was not sure how happy Red Bull would now be with its push to try and get the technical directive pushed through, as it could only qualify as high as fifth with Max Verstappen.

    “The pace I had in the long runs and we had as a team, we’re looking strong,” Bottas said.

    “With the engine regulation change for the modes, it’s going to be even better for us in the race than before. Hopefully it will be good.

    “I’m not sure how happy Red Bull is now with this engine change.”

    Asked by Motorsport.com if he missed using party mode on his car, pole-man Hamilton remained coy.

    “I don’t even think we ever had a party mode,” Hamilton joked.

    “It’s something someone else made up. Who knows if we even used that mode at Spa anyways?”

    Hamilton himself coined the term “party mode” back in 2018 when Mercedes made a breakthrough with its power unit output.

    The result continued Hamilton’s impressive run of qualifying form against teammate and title rival Bottas, who finished 0.069 seconds shy of pole position at Monza.

    Bottas had decided to go first on-track and give Hamilton a tow, believing he was better off running in clear air.

    But the Finn refused to say if the lack of a tow had cost him in the battle for pole.

    “I’ve been feeling pretty fast this weekend, so obviously a bit disappointed to be second instead of first,” Bottas said.

    “Ultimately it came to the choice, if I’m running first or second, to [go] first, because from our analysis, there shouldn’t be much of a difference, or maybe even better to be first so you can really focus on the clean laps and not to have any messy out-laps.

    “I just experienced once the final tow in the end of Q2, and actually it didn’t feel too bad. That’s when I got the quickest time, otherwise cutting the wind in the front.

    “In the corners, I was fast. So it’s impossible to say without seeing the data which one was better.”

  6. Lewis Hamilton says his Mercedes team had “bang on” tactics to avoid getting caught up in qualifying traffic chaos at Formula 1’s 2020 Italian Grand Prix, where he claimed pole.

    The final runs in Q3 for the 2019 event at Monza were blighted by farcical scenes where the top 10 runners jostled for position to avoid running without a tow – an issue that also occurred in FP3 and Q1 this year.

    But the Mercedes squad sent Hamilton and his teammate Valtteri Bottas out with over five minutes of Q3 remaining for this final runs, which meant they ran at the head of the field as the pack scrambled out of the pits behind them.

    When asked if Mercedes had changed its approach as a result of what happened a year ago – usually the teams prefer to run as late as possible in qualifying to get the best of the track conditions – Hamilton said: “Not really.

    “I think we learned from last year in terms of going out at the end wasn’t the best for us. The strategy team did a really great job in terms of the timing.

    “It’s something we discussed yesterday and again today. Ultimately I think it was bang on.”

    Hamilton also discussed the impact of the tow, which all teams other than Mercedes attempted to secure for their drivers, but the world champion felt the difference between having it and running in clean air was minimal.

    “There’s a very, very close [time gap] between having clear air and being in the tow,” he explained.

    “Can’t really tell you which one is best. I think some people would tell you being in a tow is best, but you lose out in the middle and the last sector.

    “Ultimately I’m really, really grateful and happy with today.”

    Hamilton ended up 0.808 seconds clear of Carlos Sainz, who qualified third for McLaren, on the first weekend of the new technical directive came into force that means the teams must run their cars in the same engine mode for qualifying and the race.

    Hamilton said he “didn’t expect” the gap to Sainz, but said he does not “come into weekends with an expectation of how much of a gap we’re going to have”.

    He added: “But of course I don’t really understand it.

    “We did say last week when they brought in this rule to slow us down that it wasn’t really going to make a difference, because we’ve got a great, great car, and we’ll be better in other areas.

    “Just an incredible performance this weekend. I think this is definitely the best we’ve ever been here. Just really got the car in a sweet spot for this weekend.

    “Just a huge thank you to all of the guys back at the factory for the simulations, for working on getting parts to these races, and continuously stepping forwards.

    “It’s such a hard thing to do, and I think people take for granted because we do it weekend in, weekend out. But I certainly don’t. It was very, very close. Valtteri was very, very quick so far this weekend.

    “I’m really happy with the laps. They’re not really anything on the last one that I did, but nonetheless.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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