Italian Grand Prix – Ferrari have claimed the front row for their home race at Monza, with Kimi Raikkonen getting the better of Sebastian Vettel to take pole position. Lewis Hamilton took P3 for Mercedes.
With the threatening rain over Monza holding off for the qualifying, the expected performance advantage from the two Ferraris was evident, with Sebastian Vettel finishing the Q1 & Q2 sessions on top.
Heading into Q3, it was Lewis Hamilton who raised the tension for the thousands of tifosi gathered to cheer on the Ferraris. The Mercedes man put in a 1:19.3 on his first run to go fastest ahead of both Vettel & Raikkonen. Vettel, having been ahead of Raikkonen on track to provide a mild slipstream, didn’t swap positions for the second runs. Hamilton slightly improved on his second run, before Sebastian Vettel crossed the line to snatch provisional pole at the chequered flag. Seconds later, Raikkonen crossed the line, still enjoying a slipstream from Vettel, putting in a 1:19.1 to take pole position.
This mark Raikkonen’s first pole position since Monaco 2017, and Ferrari’s front row lockout at home comes shortly after the death of former Chairman Sergio Marchionne. Jubilant scenes at the track showed the crowds chanting ‘Kimi, Kimi, Kimi’ as the Finn becomes the oldest pole position holder since Nigel Mansell in 1992.
Raikkonen’s 1:19.119 is the fastest average speed laptime in Formula 1 history, and he finished 0.161 clear of Vettel to complete the Ferrari front row. Hamilton had to settle for P3, ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who was never able to join in the pole position battle. Max Verstappen claimed P5 for Red Bull Racing, almost a second behind the leading four.
Romain Grosjean was P6 for Haas, Carlos Sainz finished P7 for Renault, with Esteban Ocon P8 for Force India. Pierre Gasly was P9 in his Honda-powered Toro Rosso, a nice sign of improvement for the team at the most power intensive circuit on the calendar. Lance Stroll completed the top ten, with Williams making it into Q3 for the first time this year.
Kevin Magnussen took P11 in the second Haas, due to getting involved in an incident with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso into the first chicane. The pair were too close together on track for the final runs in Q2 and ended up racing through the apex, and ruined each other’s laps. Alonso had to settle for P13, with Sergey Sirotkin splitting the pair in his Williams. Nico Hulkenberg was P14 for Renault, with Daniel Ricciardo P15 in his Red Bull. The Australian didn’t try to progress any further through qualifying, due to heading into the session with an engine grid penalty.
Sergio Perez was a surprise elmination in Q1, having to settle for P16 in the Force India, ahead of Charles Leclerc after the Sauber driver made an error and ran wide. Brendon Hartley was P18 for Toro Rosso & Marcus Ericsson P19 in his Sauber; the Swede also has a grid penalty after his monstrous crash in practice on Friday resulted in a gearbox change. Stoffel Vandoorne rounded off the grid as he finished P20 for McLaren.