Hamilton grabs 70th career pole while Vettel forced to withdraw

Lewis Hamilton scored his 70th career pole position with an important qualifying session at Sepang, as his championship rival Sebastian Vettel was forced to withdraw with Ferrari power issue.

It was a solid qualifying result from Hamilton as Mercedes was struggling to get its upgraded Formula 1 car working properly throughout the free practice sessions, but turned things around just in time for Hamilton to get the job done in qualifying.

Hamilton’s first flying lap in Q3 proved just enough in the end, as Kimi Raikkonen – who was fastest of all in Q2 – fell short by just 0.045 seconds after locking up at the final corner.

The other Silver Arrows of Valtteri Bottas was not so comfortable as Hamilton in qualifying, experiencing trouble in particularly through the second sector. Bottas ended up only fifth fastest, behind both Red Bulls.

Max Verstappen split Raikkonen and Hamilton in Q2, but fell back in Q3, ending up third fastest, almost half a second away from pole. Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was only half a tenth further back in fourth.

Vettel should have been among the fight for pole, having set the pace in Friday’s practice session, but his Ferrari suffered an engine problem in final practice, so the team worked through the break between sessions to change his engine.

Vettel made it out for the start of Q1, but reported a loss of drive, which he described as feeling “like I have no turbo”, that he couldn’t fix with the switch changes suggested by his team.

Vettel was forced back to the pits without setting a time and couldn’t return to the track, leaving him last in the classification.

Esteban Ocon took advantage of Vettel’s absence to post the sixth fastest time for Force India, ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren-Honda, Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault, Force India team-mate Sergio Perez, and the McLaren-Honda of Fernando Alonso.

Felipe Massa and Jolyon Palmer were both knocked out of the top ten in the final moments of Q2, as Perez, Vandoorne and Alonso all leaped ahead with quicker lap times.

Massa ended up an agonising 0.024 seconds away from making the cut in P11, ahead of Palmer, Williams team-mate Lance Stroll – who complained of a bad out-lap compromising his second run – and the Toro Rossos of Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly.

Neither Toro Rosso driver found time on their second Q2 runs, and Gasly ended up qualifying just 0.156 seconds behind Sainz for his Formula 1 debut, though by lapping slower than he managed in Q1.

Haas team-mates Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen failed to make it through to Q2, by more than three tenths of a second, as faster rivals made late improvements and knocked them into the drop zone.

Pascal Wehrlein got his Sauber to within half a tenth of a second of beating Magnussen to 17th place on the grid.

Marcus Ericsson was almost half a second slower for Sauber and slowest of those to set a time.

Such a contrast between the championship contenders. Lewis Hamilton achieved a new lap record at Sepang and scoring his 70th pole position in Formula 1. While Sebastian Vettel was unable to compete due to engine issues. Hopefully the Ferrari driver can fight back in the sake of the title.

Qualifying standings for the Malaysian Grand Prix:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m30.076s
2    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m30.121s
3    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m30.541s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m30.595s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m30.758s
6    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m31.478s
7    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m31.582s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m31.607s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m31.658s
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m31.704s
11    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m32.034s
12    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m32.100s
13    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m32.307s
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m32.402s
15    Pierre Gasly    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m32.558s
16    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m33.308s
17    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m33.434s
18    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m33.483s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m33.970s
20    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    No time

Hamilton wins a dramatic Singapore Grand Prix as Vettel crashes out

Lewis Hamilton scored an important victory in a dramatic Singapore Grand Prix as title rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out at the start.

Hamilton took the chequered flag 4.5 seconds ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, with Valtteri Bottas completing the podium.

Hamilton extended his championship lead to 28 points over Vettel, with Bottas 23 points further back in third.

Rain was falling ahead of the start, with the top six drivers – Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Bottas – starting on the intermediates while others, including Nico Hulkenberg and the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne opted for the full wets.

Kimi Raikkonen made a strong getaway from fourth to go three abreast with pole sitter Vettel and Verstappen on the approach to Turn 1.

Vettel moved across to cover the inside line, squeezing Verstappen who then made contact with Raikkonen, spearing The Iceman across the track into Vettel.

Raikkonen’s out of control car then collected Verstappen and Alonso at Turn 1, putting Raikkonen and Verstappen out of the race immediately.

Vettel continued in the lead with his damaged car, but then lost control out of Turn 3 and after he’d hit the barriers hard, his Ferrari team instructed him to retire.

Alonso managed to continue but his McLaren team lost telemetry and though it came back, it ultimately called him in to retire as well.

Hamilton inherited the lead, but the race was neutralised when the safety car was sent out so the debris could be cleared.

At the restart, Hamilton bolted away at the front, pulling out a lead of 3.5 seconds over Ricciardo after just one lap with Hulkenberg running third.

The rain stopped on lap six with conditions rapidly favouring those running intermediates.

The safety car was called out again when Daniil Kvyat crashed after locking up at the end of the back straight and understeering into the wall.

Several drivers, including Ricciardo, took the opportunity to pit for fresh intermediates but Mercedes kept Hamilton and Bottas out.

By the time the safety car came back in at the end of lap 14, everyone was on intermediates apart from Felipe Massa and Pascal Wehrlein.

As the track began to dry, Kevin Magnussen was the first driver to switch to slicks, taking the ultra-softs, while Massa followed suit.

It quickly became clear that was the tyre to be on, sparking a flurry of pitstops, with Ricciardo pitting on lap 29 in a bid to undercut Hamilton.

Mercedes responded the next lap and Hamilton rejoined in the lead.

He set about pulling away from the Red Bull, building an 18.7 seconds lead over Ricciardo before the safety car came out for third time when Marcus Ericsson crashed on the Anderson Bridge.

Several drivers pitted for fresh tyres, including Hulkenberg who also needed an air line plugged into his car which delayed the stop and dropped him from fourth to tenth  before he retired in the closing stages.

Hamilton pulled clear at the restart with the Mercedes driver quickly building a lead of four seconds.

Mercedes told him to hold that gap to keep the field compressed and avoid giving anyone else a free stop but after a discussion, it told Hamilton he could dictate the pace and ultimately secure his seventh win of the season.

Carlos Sainz Jr finished a career-best fourth for Toro Rosso, ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez, with Jolyon Palmer scoring his first points of the season in sixth.

Stoffel Vandoorne was seventh with Lance Stroll eighth as Romain Grosjean and Esteban Ocon completed the top ten.

The race became time-limited due to the safety car interruptions meaning only 58 of the 61 laps could be completed within the two-hour limit.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes in winning. This was an important result for the championship. As for Ferrari, this self-destruction was unacceptable but that’s racing. Hopefully the Scuderia can fight back, for the sake of the championship.

Singapore Grand Prix race results:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    58    2h03m23.543s
2    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    58    4.507s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    58    8.800s
4    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    58    22.822s
5    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    58    25.359s
6    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    58    27.259s
7    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    58    30.388s
8    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    58    41.696s
9    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    58    43.282s
10    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    58    44.795s
11    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    58    46.536s
12    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    56    2 Laps
–    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    50    Retirement
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    48    Retirement
–    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    35    Spun off
–    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    10    Spun off
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    8    Collision
–    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    0    Collision
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    0    Collision
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    0    Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1    Lewis Hamilton    263
2    Sebastian Vettel    235
3    Valtteri Bottas    212
4    Daniel Ricciardo    162
5    Kimi Raikkonen    138
6    Max Verstappen    68
7    Sergio Perez    68
8    Esteban Ocon    56
9    Carlos Sainz    48
10    Nico Hulkenberg    34
11    Felipe Massa    31
12    Lance Stroll    28
13    Romain Grosjean    26
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Jolyon Palmer    8
17    Stoffel Vandoorne    7
18    Pascal Wehrlein    5
19    Daniil Kvyat    4
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    475
2    Ferrari    373
3    Red Bull-Renault    230
4    Force India-Mercedes    124
5    Williams-Mercedes    59
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    52
7    Renault    42
8    Haas-Ferrari    37
9    McLaren-Honda    17
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Vettel takes Singapore Grand Prix pole

Sebastian Vettel claimed his 49th career pole position in Formula 1, with a electrifying lap around the tight, twisty Singapore Grand Prix street circuit.

Championship leader and rival Lewis Hamilton could only qualify in fifth position, behind a pair of Ferraris and Red Bulls.

Vettel set a time quick enough for pole position on his first run in Q3, during which all drivers used ultrasoft Pirelli compound, with a one minute, 39.669 seconds.

He then survived a light brush of the wall on his second run to improve to a one minute, 39.491 seconds to take pole from Red Bull driver Max Verstappen by 0.323 seconds.

Verstappen had set the pace in Q2, but after recording the second quickest time on his first run in Q3 he was unable to improve on his second run.

Daniel Ricciardo was third in the other Red Bull, but could only improve by 0.022 seconds on his second run.

That left Kimi Raikkonen in fourth position, with The Iceman unable to carry his impressive first-sector pace into the second and third sectors of his final lap.

Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both qualified on the fifth row, with the gap between the Mercedes team-mates almost seven tenths of a second.

Nico Hulkenberg was best-of-the rest in seventh for Renault, just ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Stoffel Vandoorne was ninth, well ahead of tenth-placed Carlos Sainz.

Renault driver Jolyon Palmer missed out on Q3 after being relegated to P11 by Alonso on the second runs in the second segment of qualifying.

He failed to improve on his second set of tyres in Q2 thanks to a moment in the final corner, which the team suggested over the radio cost him tenth place.

Sergio Perez complained about having “no grip at all” on his second Q2 run and ended up P12 after being unable to improve on his first-run time.

Daniil Kvyat did improve on his second run for Toro Rosso, but only by enough to take P13 ahead of the Force India of Esteban Ocon.

Romain Grosjean, who paid two visits to the Turn 7 escape road in Q1, didn’t post a time on his first run in Q2 and was unable to do better than P15 when he made his second attempt.

Kevin Magnussen was the fastest of those eliminated in Q1 after being relegated to P16 by Hulkenberg’s leap up the order.

Williams driver Felipe Massa was also knocked out in P17 after a difficult session, not posting a serious lap time on his first run after clipping the wall at the exit of Turn 21 and suffering a right-rear puncture

Massa then had a big moment in the fast left-hander final corner on his final flying lap, which ensured any faint hope he had of making Q2 was lost.

Lance Stroll was P18 ahead of Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein, who also had a minor brush with the wall at Turn 21 on his final run.

Marcus Ericsson was last in the second Sauber, and will be given a five-place grid penalty thanks to a gearbox change triggered by damage suffered when he hit the wall during free practice 3.

So an important qualifying session for Sebastian Vettel in terms of the Formula 1 world championship. That was Ferrari’s 212 pole in the sport and with title rival Lewis Hamilton down in fifth, this was the best outcome. Bring on the Singapore Grand Prix!

Qualifying positions, Singapore Grand Prix:

1 Sebastian Vettel      Ferrari     1:39.491
2 Max Verstappen      Red Bull     1:39.814
3 Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull      1:39.840
4 Kimi Raikkonen      Ferrari     1:40.069
5 Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes     1:40.126
6 Valtteri Bottas      Mercedes     1:40.810
7 Nico Hulkenberg      Renault     1:41.013
8 Fernando Alonso      McLaren-Honda     1:41.179
9 Stoffel Vandoorne      McLaren-Honda     1:41.398
10 Carlos Sainz      Toro Rosso-Renault     1:42.056
11 Jolyon Palmer      Renault-Renault     1:42.107
12 Sergio Perez      Force India-Mercedes     1:42.246
13 Daniil Kvyat      Toro Rosso-Renault     1:42.338
14 Esteban Ocon      Force India-Mercedes     1:42.760
15 Romain Grosjean      Haas-Ferrari     1:43.883
16 Kevin Magnussen      Haas-Ferrari     1:43.756
17 Felipe Massa      Williams-Mercedes     1:44.014
18 Lance Stroll      Williams-Mercedes     1:44.728
19 Pascal Wehrlein      Sauber-Ferrari     1:45.059
20 Marcus Ericsson      Sauber-Ferrari     1:45.570

McLaren splits from Honda and joins Toro Rosso while Sainz gets Renault promotion

The McLaren nightmare with Honda power has come to an end with the news that this technical partnership will cease once the 2017 season is over.

McLaren and engine partners Honda have announced they are to end their current technical agreement at the end of the 2017 campaign. The team have been using the Japanese company’s power units for the past three seasons, with very limited success.

“Honda is a great company which, like McLaren, is in Formula 1 to win,” commented Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, McLaren Group Executive Chairman and Executive Committee principal.

“Although our partnership has not produced the desired success, that does not diminish the great history our two companies have enjoyed together, nor our continued efforts to achieve success in Formula 1. At this point in time, it is in the best interests of both companies that we pursue our racing ambitions separately.”

“It is unfortunate that we must part ways with McLaren before fulfilling our ambitions, however, we made the decision with a belief that this is the best course of action for each other’s future,” added Takahiro Hachigo, President & Representative Director of Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

“On behalf of Honda, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to fans who have been very supportive of the team as well as the drivers, team members and everyone involved who shared with us in the joys and disappointments since we began preparing for our return to F1 in 2015. Honda will continue the fight together with McLaren all the way to the end of the 2017 season, and then continue its F1 racing activities in 2018 and beyond.”

Zak Brown, McLaren’s Executive Director, added that despite mixed results, Honda’s “commitment and energy to the mission of success in Formula 1″ could not be doubted.

“They are proven winners and innovators,” he said. “For a combination of reasons our partnership has not flourished as any of us would have wished. It is certainly not for the want of effort on the part of either Honda or McLaren, but the time has come to move ahead in different directions. As fellow racers, we hope to see the great name of Honda get back to the top – our sport is better for their involvement. I know this view is shared by everyone in the sport.”

Since joining forces in 2015, McLaren and Honda had been hoping to rekindle the success that took them to multiple world titles as partners in the late Eighties and early Nineties. However, the team finished just ninth in the standings that first year and sixth last season. In the 2017 table they again lie ninth, with only 11 points.

And so ends the three challenging and difficult seasons with Honda. McLaren will take on Renault power units from 2018 onwards, thanks to a swap deal with Toro Rosso.

Next season will see McLaren running power units from Renault, following their split from Honda announced earlier today. Honda will instead supply Toro Rosso, who are currently using Renault engines.

McLaren have agreed an engine supply partnership with Renault for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons. Despite a combined Formula 1 presence that stretches back to 1977, it will mark the first time that the two brands have ever collaborated.

Meanwhile, Toro Rosso have struck a multi-year agreement to put Honda’s power units in the back of their cars from 2018, having used Renault engines this year as well in 2014 and 2015. In that period they scored 137 points together, with two fourth places their best results.

McLaren say their Renault partnership will be one that will challenge for victory, following three disappointing seasons with Honda power.

“Today’s announcement gives us the stability we need to move ahead with our chassis and technical programme for 2018 without any further hesitation,” said Zak Brown, McLaren Technology Group Executive Director.

“As an organisation, McLaren has always worked extremely hard to form lasting partnerships with its technical suppliers. We’re convinced that we can bring real value to Renault Sport Racing as we work alongside it to develop this current power unit into a regular race winner.”

The deal means that in addition to their own works squad, Renault will have two other championship-winning teams – McLaren and Red Bull – providing feedback on engine development next year.

“This is a strategic decision,” said Jerome Stoll, President of Renault Sport Racing. “This alliance is not only technical and sporting, but also comes with marketing and communication benefits. We know that McLaren will push us hard on track and this competition will be to the benefit of all.”

Best of luck Toro Rosso with Honda power. Hopefully better fortunes for the junior Red Bull team.

As for Carlos Sainz, Renault have announced that he will join them from Toro Rosso for 2018, though Carlos will only be ‘on loan’ from Red Bull.

The 23-year-old Spaniard will partner Nico Hulkenberg in a revised line-up, bringing Jolyon Palmer’s two-season spell with the team to a close.

“Carlos Sainz is a very promising driver who has been on our radar for some time, especially after his successes in Renault junior formulae,” said Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director of Renault Sport Racing.

“It is positive news for us to be able to confirm Carlos for 2018. This choice is well aligned with our mid-term strategic plans. We feel that Nico and Carlos will complement each other on and off track and the combination should help us push forwards on the grid.

“I would like to thank [Red Bull motorsport consultant ] Helmut Marko for loaning Carlos to us for this period. We must thank Jolyon for his ongoing hard work with the team and his efforts over the past two seasons. He is a dedicated driver and we wish him the best in the next steps of his career.”

Sainz, who has raced in 53 Grands Prix to date, scoring 100 points with a best finish of sixth place, expressed his delight with the move.

“I’m very happy to be joining Renault Sport Formula One Team,” he said. “To be a Formula 1 driver for a manufacturer team is an honour and I hope to reward Renault’s faith in me with my very best performances on track.

“The trajectory of Renault Sport Formula One Team is exciting and I’m proud to join at such an important time in their history. I am looking forward to working with everyone at Enstone and Viry, and driving alongside Nico Hulkenberg.

“I have worked closely with Renault in Formula 1 and previously in motorsport, so I know their motivation and capabilities. This is the start of a very exciting new chapter in my career.

“I would like to say thank you to Red Bull for all their confidence and support and for allowing me to take this opportunity. Last but not least, I specially want to thank all the people that work in Toro Rosso. They are a fantastic team of professionals and I wish them the best for the future.”

Red Bull’s Marko said he wished Sainz the best of luck in his new role, and, with reigning GP2 champion Pierre Gasly waiting in the wings, hinted that the Spaniard’s move would open the door for another young driver at Toro Rosso.

“He is a tremendous talent and he will benefit from working with a manufacturer team alongside a highly experienced driver,” said Marko of Sainz. “This will give Carlos a different challenge and we will be keenly watching his progress there as he remains part of the Red Bull family.

“This is very good development for both Carlos and Renault Sport Formula One Team and will also allow us to bring a new talent into Formula One.”

So a crazy swap shop deals in the world of Formula 1. McLaren are now Renault. Toro Rosso will use Honda and Carlos Sainz gets a promotion to a top works team.

Hamilton victorious at Monza

Lewis Hamilton was just in a class of his own at Monza following a dominant drive to win the Italian Grand Prix and seize the championship lead outright for the first time this season.

The Mercedes driver led away from pole and controlled the race from the front, taking the flag by 4.4 seconds ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas with Ferrari title rival Sebastian Vettel third, 36.3 seconds behind the leader.

It was Hamilton’s sixth victory of the season and moves him three points clear of Vettel in the drivers’ standings with Bottas a further 41 adrift.

Hamilton made a good start from pole, moving right across the track to defend from Lance Stroll and leading into Turn 1.

Esteban Ocon, starting third, took advantage of Stroll getting baulked to sweep around the outside and settle into second.

Further back, Bottas banged wheels with Kimi Raikkonen as they came through the first chicane, eventually making a pass stick to take fourth place.

Raikkonen snatched the position back at the second chicane, but Bottas then swept around the outside of Parabolica to reclaim the position.

Bottas then took third on lap three from Stroll before breezing past Ocon the following lap to move into second before setting off in pursuit of Hamilton.

Valtteri closed the gap but couldn’t get within two seconds off Lewis and ultimately finished second to secure Mercedes’s third one-two of the year.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo produced an impressive recovery drive from P16, running a very long stint on the softs to move up the order.

Ricciardo emerged on fresh super-softs after his only stop and put a great move on Raikkonen for fourth, then set about chasing Vettel, taking big amount of time out of the Ferrari driver but ultimately running out of laps.

Earlier in the race Raikkonen, who complained of a problem with the rear end of his car, had pitted early in a bid to leapfrog Ocon and Stroll.

The Iceman partially succeeded, getting ahead of Stroll who was delayed in his stop with a sticky left-rear tyre.

But he had to pass Ocon on track, launching an attack on the approach to the first chicane to take the place and going on to finish fifth, ahead of Ocon.

Stroll challenged Ocon in the closing stages but couldn’t make a move stick, and in the end he held off a spirited attack from Williams team-mate Felipe Massa to take seventh with Sergio Perez failing to take advantage of the squabble to end up ninth.

Massa survived contact with Perez and Max Verstappen early in the race to take eighth.

Verstappen was furious with Massa when they collided at Turn 1, the contact giving the Red Bull a front right puncture and dropping him back to the field.

But he recovered to take tenth but only after brief contact with Kevin Magnussen on the approach to the second chicane after he’d passed the Haas at the start of the lap.

It was a miserable race for McLaren, with Stoffel Vandoorne retiring after reporting “no power” and team-mate Fernando Alonso following suit on the penultimate lap at the request of the team.

Jolyon Palmer was on the fringes of the top ten, but was asked to retire his Renault by the team after it had discovered a problem.

So a perfect Sunday afternoon drive for Lewis Hamilton. No challenge from his rivals and he now becomes the new championship leader. Ferrari had no answer to the sheer speed from the Silver Arrows but the fight for the title is still on. Bring on the next race.

Italian Grand Prix, race results:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    53    1h15m32.310s
2    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    53    4.471s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    53    36.317s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    53    40.335s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    53    1m00.082s
6    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    53    1m11.528s
7    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    53    1m14.156s
8    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    53    1m14.834s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    53    1m15.276s
10    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    52    1 Lap
11    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    52    1 Lap
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso/Renault    52    1 Lap
13    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    52    1 Lap
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    52    1 Lap
15    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    52    1 Lap
16    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    51    2 Laps
17    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    50    3 Laps
18    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    49    4 Laps
–    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    33    Retirement
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    29    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:
1    Lewis Hamilton    238
2    Sebastian Vettel    235
3    Valtteri Bottas    197
4    Daniel Ricciardo    144
5    Kimi Raikkonen    138
6    Max Verstappen    68
7    Sergio Perez    58
8    Esteban Ocon    55
9    Carlos Sainz    36
10    Nico Hulkenberg    34
11    Felipe Massa    31
12    Lance Stroll    24
13    Romain Grosjean    24
14    Kevin Magnussen    11
15    Fernando Alonso    10
16    Pascal Wehrlein    5
17    Daniil Kvyat    4
18    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
19    Jolyon Palmer    0
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    435
2    Ferrari    373
3    Red Bull-Renault    212
4    Force India-Mercedes    113
5    Williams-Mercedes    55
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    40
7    Haas-Ferrari    35
8    Renault    34
9    McLaren-Honda    11
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

Hamilton beats Michael Schumacher’s pole record in rain-delayed Monza qualifying

Lewis Hamilton claimed a record 69th Formula 1 pole position in a rain-delayed Italian Grand Prix qualifying session, beating Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen as Ferrari struggled.

Qualifying was delayed for more than two and a half hours, after a heavy crash for Romain Grosjean’s Haas on the pit straight caused the session to be halted and then suspended as heavy rain deluged the Monza circuit.

The intensity of the rain varied throughout qualifying when it finally resumed, and a break in the rain in the closing minutes of Q3 allowed Verstappen and Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to briefly lock out the front row before Hamilton’s late show – which helped him surpass Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 Formula 1 poles that he equaled last time out in the Belgian Grand Prix.

Though exciting, the battle was rendered meaningless by grid penalties for both Red Bulls for making illegal engine component changes ahead of practice.

Verstappen is set to receive a 20-place grid penalty and Ricciardo a 25-place penalty, which will promote Williams rookie Lance Stroll to a sensational front row start for the race.

Stroll lapped inside the top five in Q2 and was fourth fastest in Q3, only three tenths slower than Verstappen.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon was fifth quickest, while Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who set the pace in Q1, abandoned his final flying lap so ended up only sixth on the final timesheet.

That was one position better than the Ferrari drivers managed, with Kimi Raikkonen seventh and championship leader Sebastian Vettel eighth as they struggled for grip on the Pirelli wet tyres.

Felipe Massa and Stoffel Vandoorne rounded out the top ten.

Sergio Perez looked to have joined Force India team-mate Ocon in making Q3 after a late improvement in Q2, but his lap was 0.002 seconds slower than Ocon’s and failed to get the job done after a last-gasp effort from Vandoorne.

Perez should start inside the top ten anyway, owing to those grid penalties for the Red Bull drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg sat inside the top ten after the initial Q2 runs, but his Renault struggled for grip on intermediates on his second run and slipped to P12. He will drop further back thanks to a 10-place grid penalty for changing his MGU-H before final practice.

Fernando Alonso, who faces a 35-place grid penalty of his own, made only one run in Q2, but it was good enough to put his McLaren-Honda P13, ahead of Toro Rosso pairing Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr, who also faces a 10-place grid penalty.

Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, Jolyon Palmer’s Renault and the Saubers were eliminated in Q1, along with Grosjean.

Magnussen made a late improvement on intermediate tyres after the initial runs on full wets, but this was not enough for him to escape the drop zone.

The Haas driver finished up 0.701 seconds adrift of Sainz’s Toro Rosso, while Palmer’s Renault was bumped to P17.

Palmer is set to take a 15-place grid penalty for engine component swaps ahead of final practice, so will drop behind Marcus Ericsson, Pascal Wehrlein and Grosjean in the final reckoning.

Ericsson trailed Sauber team-mate Wehrlein by almost a second after the wet-tyre running, but beat him to P18 by 0.143 seconds with a late improvement on intermediates.

Grosjean didn’t take part in the restarted session after his earlier crash.

So a lengthy rain delay, the wait was worth it. Lewis Hamilton set a new record in Formula 1 as the most successful driver with pole position. Lance Stroll earning his best ever grid position after an impressive qualifying run. Will start the Italian Grand Prix alongside the triple champion.

Italian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m35.554s
2    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m37.032s
3    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m37.719s
4    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m37.833s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m37.987s
6    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m38.064s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m38.251s
8    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m39.157s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m37.582s
10    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m38.245s
11    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m40.489s
12    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m41.732s
13    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m41.875s
14    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m36.702s
15    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m38.059s
16    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m38.526s
17    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m36.841s
18    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m40.646s
19    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m38.202s
20    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m43.355s