Bottas is quickest in Monza qualifying

Valtteri Bottas will start Formula 1’s sprint qualifying race at Monza from first position ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton, as Mercedes dominated Friday evening qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s championship rival Max Verstappen qualified third for the sprint race, which will set Sunday’s main race grid, but finished 0.411 seconds adrift of Bottas, who was running a newly fitted fresh power unit for the Q1-Q2-Q3 session.

After the first runs in Q3, it was Hamilton who led the way with a one minute, 19.949 seconds, where Verstappen trailed in second just 0.17 seconds adrift.

But although Hamilton followed Bottas around for the final flying lap – the Mercedes cars had not given each other tow in the earlier segments – Valtteri gained ground throughout.

Bottas posted purple sectors in opening two thirds of the Monza lap and roared around to post a time with one minute, 19.555 seconds, as Hamilton improved on his own personal best, but wound up 0.096 seconds adrift.

After taking a fourth engine of 2021, Bottas will serve a grid penalty for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, with the sanction only applying once Saturday’s sprint qualifying race has finished.

Verstappen had been significantly adrift of the Mercedes pair earlier in qualifying, but his pace on the first Q3 lap raised hopes of a Red Bull challenge.

But despite running close behind teammate Sergio Perez, who qualified down in ninth, Verstappen could not set a personal best on his final effort in any sector.

Lando Norris was just 0.065 seconds behind Hamilton after the first Q3 runs and although he found time on the second efforts – both times Norris followed teammate Daniel Ricciardo – Lando finished 0.434 seconds behind Valtteri’s best.

Ricciardo took fifth, along with the fastest time in the final sector, while Pierre Gasly was sixth for AlphaTauri.

Carlos Sainz made a late improvement to jump ahead of Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc in Q3, with Leclerc grappling with an intermittent engine braking problem throughout Q1 and Q2.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi made it through to Q3 for the second successive race, this time on home soil, with the Italian driver rounding out the top ten.

Q2, topped by Hamilton, ended with a flurry of fast times, which followed a pitlane scramble to get back onto the track ahead of the final runs.

The Aston Martin cars appeared be released into the path of the Mercedes drivers and Verstappen, with Sebastian Vettel ending up very close to Hamilton’s right-side wheels as he went around an Aston mechanic that had to hold Lance Stroll before a path was cleared.

Ocon also appeared from the Alpine garage as the pack ran down the pitlane, with Leclerc also getting out ahead and the entire incident set to be investigated after qualifying.

All five drivers that were knocked out in Q2 set personal best times on their final fliers, with the pack backing off ahead of the Parabolica but all the drivers getting through in time to complete a final lap.

Vettel was vocally frustrated to be knocked out in P11 ahead of Stroll, with the Astons followed by Alpine duo Fernando Alonso and Ocon.

George Russell qualified P15 for Williams, after only making it through to Q2 after Yuki Tsunoda lost his Q1 personal best for running too wide out of the final corner on his last lap.

Traffic was a major issue in Q1, with Verstappen and Gasly particularly aggrieved to come across cars at the della Roggia chicane and the Ascari chicane in separate incidents midway through the opening segment, the former arriving with the Alpine cars and Stroll going slowly in front of him, while the latter had to back out of a lap after coming across Leclerc going slowly through Ascari’s first apex.

A massive pack of cars toured slowly down the back straight in the final seconds before the chequered flag came out, but all were able to get in one final effort.

Improvements from Alonso, Ocon and Tsunoda shuffled the Williams drivers down the order and both seemingly out.

Russell nearly paid the price for not setting a personal best on his final Q1 flier, something Latifi also did not do as he ended up behind Tsunoda before the AlphaTauri lost its final time, while Mick Schumacher, Robert Kubica and Nikita Mazepin saved their best for last.

But personal bests right at the end of Q1 could not get them any higher up the order than P18, P19 and P20, with Tsunoda’s second fastest time good enough for P17.

Mazepin faces a post-qualifying investigation for appearing to impede Kubica at the first Lesmo ahead of the final runs, but will not face an investigation for an incident where he was called out of his garage only narrowly in front of Leclerc and Sainz during Q1’s early stages.

So congratulations Valtteri Bottas with this P1. This is not pole position for the Italian Grand Prix due to the format change. This is a top slot for the sprint, qualifying race on Saturday. Winning this quick race will be the official pole position at Monza.

Italian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:19.555
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.651
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:19.966
4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.989
5 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.995
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:20.260
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:20.462
8 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:20.510
9 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1:20.611
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:20.808
11 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:20.913
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:21.020
13 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:21.069
14 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:21.103
15 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:21.392
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:21.925
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1:21.973
18 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1:22.248
19 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:22.530
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:22.716

5 thoughts to “Bottas is quickest in Monza qualifying”

  1. Italian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Mercedes’ outgoing driver Valtteri Bottas has taken the Pirelli Speed King Award at Monza, going fastest in qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix, and meaning he’ll start P1 for Saturday’s F1 Sprint, having beaten team mate Lewis Hamilton.

    Bottas, who announced earlier this week that he’ll head to Alfa Romeo for 2022, set a blistering pace on his final flying run in Friday evening’s qualifying session at Monza, stopping the clocks with a 1m 19.555s, 0.096s quicker than Hamilton.

    And while Bottas will start Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix from the back of the grid after taking a raft of engine penalties for this weekend, he will nonetheless have a role to play for Mercedes by starting P1 in the F1 Sprint in the hope of taking points away from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

    Verstappen had looked off the pace of the Mercedes across Friday. And that was confirmed in qualifying, as the Dutch driver took P3 on the grid for Red Bull, 0.411s off Bottas.

    McLaren were one of the surprises of qualifying, with Lando Norris ending both Q1 and Q2 in P3 and ahead of Verstappen. But Norris eventually slotted into fourth, just two-hundredths behind the Dutch driver, with team mate Daniel Ricciardo also impressing to take fifth.

    Pierre Gasly was sixth for AlphaTauri, ahead of the two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc – both Ferraris making Q3 this year, as opposed to last year when neither car made the final segment of qualifying. Sergio Perez was a disappointing ninth for Red Bull, ahead of the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi.

    Aston Martin were a surprise Q2 exit, having gone well in Friday’s FP1 session, Sebastian Vettel taking P11 to Lance Stroll’s P12, with the Alpines of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon behind in P13 and P14, ahead of the Williams of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi.

    AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, Haas’ Mick Schumacher, the second Alfa of Robert Kubica and the second Haas of Nikita Mazepin rounded out the 20 cars.

    Q1 – Tsunoda lap deletion promotes Russell to Q2 as Hamilton goes fastest

    With Ferrari having earmarked their home race at Monza as one where they might struggle due to a power unit deficit, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were sent out early onto the track, seeming to play around with the powerful tow at the Temple of Speed – said to be worth up to seven-tenths a lap here.

    Traffic in Q1 was always likely to be a problem with 20 cars on track – and so it proved, with a number of edgy moments as drivers encountered cars when they were on fast laps, Pierre Gasly particularly incensed as he called the situation “a f****** joke”.

    Once the jostling was done and the laps recorded, Hamilton carried on Mercedes’ form from FP1 – where he’d headed the session from Verstappen by 0.452s – to go fastest, 0.142s up on team mate Bottas, as McLaren’s Lando Norris took an impressive third, just 0.373s behind Hamilton, and over a tenth ahead of Verstappen in P4.

    Sainz and Leclerc’s tow antics, meanwhile, netted them fifth and seventh – with Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi doing a good job to split them in P6.

    It initially looked as though both Williams had been knocked out in Q1. But Yuki Tsunoda subsequently had his final lap deleted for track limits at Turn 11 – the newly-named Curva Alboreto – promoting newly-signed Mercedes driver Russell into Q2, as Nicholas Latifi, Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen stand-in Robert Kubica and Nikita Mazepin went out.

    Knocked out: Latifi, Tsunoda, Schumacher, Kubica, Mazepin

    Q2 – Both Alpines and Aston Martins drop out as Hamilton quickest again

    The big surprise after the opening gambit in Q2 was the pace – or lack of it – of the Red Bulls, with Verstappen P6 after the first runs, 0.774s off Hamilton’s early effort of 1m 19.936s, as Perez took P10, 1.210s off – both Bulls with work to do.

    2019 Monza winner Leclerc, meanwhile, having detected an issue on his SF21 in Q1, was complaining vociferously about the engine braking on his car, which appeared to be sapping his trust in his Prancing Horse.

    With the drivers heading out for their final efforts in the segment, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel came within an ace of hitting Hamilton in the pit lane as he was released from his garage.

    Once the drivers had got themselves in order, though, Hamilton and Bottas failed to improve from their first runs on used soft tyres, but had still been fast enough to head the session, with Norris once again taking P3 to Verstappen’s P4 (Verstappen at least having closed to within 0.293s of Hamilton on his final run), as Ricciardo took fifth.

    Fernando Alonso had headed into the final Q2 runs as the only driver yet to set a lap time, having made a Turn 1 error on his first effort. But neither the Spaniard nor his Alpine team mate Esteban Ocon could haul themselves out of Q3, Alonso and Ocon ending up P13 and P14 respectively.

    The Aston Martins had been rapid in FP1, but were also unable to proceed to Q3, Vettel taking P11, one spot ahead of Lance Stroll – who’d gone fourth fastest in the morning session – as Russell took P15.

    Ferrari, meanwhile, avenged their double failure to make Q3 from 2020, with Sainz and Leclerc graduating to the final part of qualifying in eighth and ninth, ahead of Perez – Leclerc seemingly managing to drive around his issues.

    Gasly and Giovinazzi were the other two drivers to make it through.

    Knocked out: Vettel, Stroll, Alonso, Ocon, Russell

    Q3 – Bottas stuns with fastest time as Mercedes dominate

    The first laps in Q3 saw Verstappen much more at the races, Hamilton once more laying down the gauntlet with a 1m 19.949s, but Verstappen just 0.017s behind in P2, as Norris claimed P3, only 0.065s behind Hamilton.

    Bottas, meanwhile, was behind Ricciardo in P5, and half a second off, having got a bit wild coming out of the second chicane and kissing the gravel.

    As the drivers circulated Monza for their final laps, though, Bottas was in inspired form, setting purple times in the first two sectors before sweeping over the line in 1m 19.555s to take provisional pole.

    He’d even been giving a tow to team mate Hamilton – but although the seven-time Monza polesitter improved to a 1m 19.651s, that still left him 0.096s adrift of Bottas, who may have been uttering a few “to whom it may concerns…” in his helmet following news of his departure to Alfa Romeo for 2022, as he went fastest in qualifying for the first time since Portimao.

    Verstappen ultimately wouldn’t improve on his second lap, but had done enough in his opening run to claim third on the grid for Saturday’s F1 Sprint – albeit that he was a chunky 0.411s off Bottas – Verstappen ahead of the impressive Norris, who took fourth, while Ricciardo would have been pleased to lap just 0.006s adrift of his team mate as he claimed fifth.

    As he did at Zandvoort, Gasly beat both Ferraris to take sixth, with Sainz ahead of Leclerc in seventh and eighth, Perez a lowly ninth in the second Red Bull, while Giovinazzi rounded out the top 10, after his second straight Q3 appearance.

    So, the battle looks beautifully poised for the return of the Sprint on Saturday. But starting P3 on the grid, will Verstappen go aggressive to try and disrupt the Mercedes? Or save his firepower for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix?

  2. Valtteri Bottas is set to start Sunday’s Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix from the back of the grid after taking a number of new power unit elements.

    Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said earlier on Friday that all teams were “struggling” with their power unit allocation for the season, and that the team had “thoughts” of taking a penalty at Monza to add to its pool for the remainder of the season.

    During qualifying on Friday evening, the FIA issued a bulletin confirming that Mercedes had taken a number of new power unit elements on Bottas’s car.

    By taking a fresh engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K, Bottas is set for a back of grid start at Monza.

    This will be applied to Sunday’s main race and not Saturday’s sprint race, where Bottas will start from wherever he finishes in Friday’s qualifying session.

    The move will serve as a boost to the pool of power unit elements on Bottas’s car for the remainder of the year, meaning no further penalties should be taken this season.

    Teammate Lewis Hamilton may also require a grid drop at some point this year, as Wolff was wary of the impact a possible DNF may have if they tried completing the season on the existing pool.

    “We believe that between P1 and P2, with the fastest lap, that if you have one DNF it needs the other guy four races to catch up,” Wolff said on Sky Sports.

    “And that’s brutal. So you can afford to finish four times in second [place]. Therefore, you just need to really play it safe while not giving up performance.”

    Monza has been a popular track for teams to take engine penalties in previous years due to the overtaking opportunities at the end of the long straights.

    Red Bull finds itself in a similar position to Mercedes with Max Verstappen’s car after he lost one of his remaining engines to crash damage sustained at Silverstone.

    But Verstappen said on Thursday there was currently no plan for him to take a grid drop at Monza.

    “We haven’t really decided yet where to take it,” Verstappen said.

    “I guess this engine is still very new, so we’ll see. It’s definitely not the plan to take it here.”


  3. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is feeling confident that he can “strong points” at Monza despite grid drop. has the news story.

    Valtteri Bottas remains confident he can score “strong points” at Monza despite a grid drop set to leave him at the back of the Formula 1 grid on Sunday.

    News emerged during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix on Friday evening that Bottas would be starting Sunday’s race from the back of the grid after a strategic move by Mercedes to change some power unit elements.

    Bottas duly set the fastest time at the end of Q3 to deliver a qualifying 1-2 for Mercedes, pipping teammate Lewis Hamilton to top spot.

    Bottas will start Saturday’s sprint race at Monza from P1, giving him the chance to fight for the maximum of three points on offer for the winning of the 100km event. He will then drop to the rear of the field on Sunday.

    But the Finn was encouraged by the pace Mercedes had shown at Monza on Friday, giving him confidence he could still walk away with a decent haul of points.

    “I think sprint obviously, there’s a possibility to get a few points, so of course, try to get the maximum points tomorrow that we can,” Bottas said.

    “Then it’s another fight on Sunday. Now I’ll just focus first on tomorrow, and try to deal with it on Sunday.

    “Having a look at the pace we have here, I’m sure we can still get some strong points on Sunday.”

    Bottas sat fifth after the first runs in Q3 following an error at the exit of the Roggia chicane that saw him touch the gravel, before a tow helped him surge to P1 at the end of the session.

    “It felt nice and I enjoyed the last lap, it was a beautiful lap and I really had fun,” Bottas said.

    “The car has been really good this weekend, and we saw that there’s a bit of a gap to Red Bull as well.

    “So it’s been maybe stronger than we expected so far this weekend, and hopefully it will be the same in the race.”

    The charge to first place came just days after Bottas announced he would be leaving Mercedes at the end of the year, joining Alfa Romeo for the 2022 season.

    Teammate Hamilton said it was “great to have a front row lock out for the team”, adding: “Particularly with the news this week, it’s great to Valtteri going so well.”

  4. McLaren’s Lando Norris commented that missing P3 in Monza Formula 1 qualifying “sucks”. has the details.

    Lando Norris believes McLaren was quick enough for the top three in Formula 1 qualifying at Monza on Friday, saying finishing fourth “sucks” after narrowly losing out to Max Verstappen.

    Following his worst qualifying of the year last weekend at Zandvoort, where his unbroken run of consecutive Q3 appearances came to an end with 13th on the grid, Norris sat third after the first runs in Q3 at Monza on Friday evening and was just 0.065 seconds shy of provisional leader Lewis Hamilton.

    But Norris dropped to fourth place in the final runs after Valtteri Bottas surged to top spot for Mercedes, leaving the McLaren driver 0.434s off the top of the timesheets. teammate Daniel Ricciardo qualified fifth.

    Verstappen sat just 0.023s ahead for Red Bull in third place, leaving Norris disappointed that he hadn’t qualified higher for the Saturday sprint race.

    “I hate those words, ‘very close’, because it always makes you feel like you didn’t do a good enough job,” Norris said when told he was very close to P3.

    “I’m happy. We’re in a much better position than the last weekend and I look forward to the race than a lot more as well. So a nice weekend to bounce back on, a good position so far.

    “Missing out on P3 kind of sucks. I would have loved that little bit more, which I think we had in the car today. But I guess I have to try and do it tomorrow.”

    Norris felt that his first run in Q3 was “my best lap”, but took encouragement from the three-tenths of a second gap to AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in sixth place.

    “The car, it is nice, and I think that shows in the lap time compared to where we were,” Norris said after struggling to tenth at Zandvoort.

    “We have a bit of a gap to Gasly and the rest of the guys we are racing against. So the car is alive, it’s working well.

    “It’s just weird, isn’t it? I find it weird that we can be on one racetrack one-and-a-half seconds almost off pole, off Verstappen, and now I’m quarter of a tenth [behind Verstappen here].

    “[It’s] just because of the track and how the car works on different tracks, how the difference and the swing of lap time can be huge.

    “We didn’t really change that much. But the car has got miles quicker. So it’s cool.”

  5. Mercedes wants to let the start of Formula 1’s Italian Grand Prix sprint qualifying play out before it considers team orders between Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

    Bottas turned the tables on his world champion teammate Hamilton with a brilliant lap to grab the top spot in Friday’s qualifying session at Monza.

    And, with Hamilton locked in a close title fight with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Mercedes may need to lean on Bottas to move aside in Saturday’s sprint race to maximise his teammate’s points haul.

    Team orders are made more likely with Bottas having taken a fresh engine for the Monza event, which means he will start at the back of the grid for Sunday’s main grand prix whatever position he finishes in on Saturday.

    But Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is clear that the team won’t hand out any orders to Bottas until after the start of Saturday’s race.

    “It is difficult, generally, when you have to call team orders because all of us as racers, we don’t want to see that,” Wolff told Sky.

    “Everybody here should be aware he’s [there] on merit. But, in this case, Valtteri is going all the way to the back on Sunday, so we need to see how the start pans out.

    “There’s not too much to discuss [beforehand]. Just be careful in the first corner, and then we’ll see where they are.”

    Asked if Mercedes would order Bottas aside if the situation allowed later on, Wolff said: “Yeah presumably.”

    Wolff also praised the way that Bottas handled himself through qualifying, and reckoned that the Finn has been helped by being “free” of concerns over his contract now that his future at Alfa Romeo has been assured.

    “He was really free,” said Wolff. “He took a lot of risk on the first lap [in Q3] and went a bit wide, and then in his calm attitude he said: ‘If I have a tow, I can go three tenths faster’. So he had a tow.”

    The decision to move Bottas on to a fresh power unit was partly triggered by the fact that Monza is a sprint race weekend, which meant the Finn still had an important role to play in qualifying.

    Explaining the decision, Wolff said: “We had a little bit of a worry because we wouldn’t have taken it otherwise. And in the sprint races format, it’s quite good because you have to take the penalty only for Sunday.”


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