With Mercedes looking strong in FP1 and FP2, the Silver Arrows looked like the team to beat in qualifying. With the Monza circuit being soaked with rain before the session however, the track became green and the result became nearly unpredictable due to the case of constant track evolution.
Wet Italian GP qualifying sees Lewis Hamilton claim record breaking pole
Prior to the session going green for the first part of qualifying, the drivers were queuing in the pit lane, wanting to complete a lap as soon as possible with the conditions of the session set to deteriorate. Valtteri Bottas led the field out on to the track and it was clear that the conditions were too poor to race in. The Finn went on at Turn 1 at the start of his flying lap and set an uncompetitive time while Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the early part of the session.
When Romain Grosjean speared into the wall on the main straight, the red flag was waved and the session was halted, with the Frenchman becoming the first casualty of Q1. After two hours of a red flag, the session was finally re-started, and Max Verstappen led the field out of the pit lane. It became a game of track evolution with the intermediate tyres being suitable for the track conditions, and Mercedes emerged as the pace setters, with Bottas setting the fastest lap of the session.
Five drivers were eliminated from Q1, and Kevin Magnussen qualified in 16th place for Haas F1, marking a double elimination for the American team. Jolyon Palmer was next up, and only managed 17th after a timing error from Renault meant that he could not set a final lap. The two Sauber drivers qualified in 18th and 19th, with Marcus Ericsson out qualifying Pascal Wehrlein for the second race in succession. Grosjean rounded out the field.
Intermediate running continued in the second part of qualifying and Lewis Hamilton set the pace for Mercedes. With the track consistently improving, whoever crossed the line last would set the best lap time. Another five drivers were eliminated in Q2, leaving only ten drivers left for the final part of qualifying. Sergio Perez just missed out on a Q3 appearance and ended Q2 in 11th fastest. Joining him was his old Force India team mate Nico Hulkenberg, who set the 12th fastest time for Renault. It was Fernando Alonso who was 13th, followed by the two Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr who rounded out the session in 14th and 15th fastest.
In the final part of qualifying the rain poured down and the circuit conditions deteriorated, forcing drivers to do their final runs on the wet tyre. Lap times consistently tumbled lap by lap, with provisional pole being bounced back between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. On his final lap of the session, Hamilton claimed pole position and broke Michael Schumacher’s record for the most career poles – a fantastic achievement for the British driver.
Max Verstappen was Hamilton’s nearest challenger and qualified in second while Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top three. With both Red Bull drivers having grid penalties however, Lance Stroll will start on the front row for Williams after qualifying in third place – an impressive result for the Canadian rookie.
Esteban Ocon qualified in fifth place for Force India, and as a result will line up in third on the grid. Valtteri Bottas was next up in the session, sixth fastest.
It was a very disappointing qualifying for the Ferrari pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel at the team’s home race, only qualifying in seventh and eighth. This will make Sunday’s race a challenge for the Scuderia, with four Mercedes powered cars starting ahead of them on the grid.
Felipe Massa and Stoffel Vandoorne rounded out Q3 in ninth and tenth.
Qualifying results from the Italian Grand Prix:
- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:35.554
- Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1:36.702
- Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 1:36.841
- Lance Stroll, Williams, 1:37.032
- Esteban Ocon, Force India, 1:37.719
- Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:37.833
- Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:37.987
- Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:38.064
- Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:38.251
- Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:39.157
- Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:37.582 (Q2)
- Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:38.059 (Q2)
- Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:38.202 (Q2)
- Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:38.245 (Q2)
- Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 1:38.526 (Q2)
- Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1, 1:40.489 (Q1)
- Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:40.646 (Q1)
- Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:41.732 (Q1)
- Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, 1:41.875 (Q1)
- Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, 1:43.355 (Q1)
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