Hamilton edges Bottas for pole in Monza

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas

Lewis Hamilton narrowly bested his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to claim pole position for the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix.

Hamilton set a best time of 1:18.887s on his final flying lap in qualifying to secure the 94th pole position of his F1 career.

The time proved just 0.069s quicker than Bottas could muster in the sister car, giving Mercedes a front-row lockout.

Third fastest was Carlos Sainz for McLaren, though more than 0.8s slower than Hamilton’s best.

While the session ended somewhat predictably, it threatened to descend into chaos as it did in 2019.

The first came as Qualifying 1 ended when a traffic jam of cars approached the Parabolica ahead of their final flying laps.

It compromised most involved, including Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) who found himself just 17th and eliminated from the session.

Vettel was caught behind George Russell (Williams), Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), and Esteban Ocon (Renault) as he started his final flying lap.

Leading the quartet down the front straight, Ocon looked to protect his track position into the first chicane by defending from Raikkonen.

That saw Russell also baulked which in turn hampered Vettel’s exit from the tight left-hander at the start of the lap, compromising his lap and all but sealing his exit from the session.

A corner later, Raikkonen was forced to back out of the throttle when Ocon moved his Renault left as the pair rounded the Curva Grande.

It appeared a deliberate move to block the Finn, who ultimately aborted his effort on the exit of the Ascari Chicane half a lap later.

The shenanigans attracted the eye of the stewards, who announced an investigation into Ocon, Raikkonen, and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi at the end of the Qualifying 1.

There were similar scenes at the end of Qualifying 2 when the entire field headed out of the pit lane with three minutes to run.

By that stage Hamilton had posted the fastest time of the session with a 1:19.092s from Bottas with a 1:19.417s.

The Renault pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Ocon were first on track, the Australian pushing his own air at the front of the train.

He’d banked just the ninth fastest time on his first effort in the session before a mistake at the Curva della Roggia saw him bounce through the gravel to destroy any hopes of an improved time.

His blushes were saved when few others were able to improve leaving Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri), Ocon, Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), and Kevin Magnussen (Haas) eliminated.

Mercedes topped proceedings when Qualifying 3 began, Hamilton ahead of Bottas by less than a tenth of a second and well clear of the pack.

The Anglo-German squad then sent its cars out for their final run with more than five minutes to run in the session, triggering frantic activity in pit lane as rival teams reacted.

Bottas was the first of the runners to set a time, improving his first Q3 time to set a 1:18.956s and provisionally claim pole.

It lasted just a handful of seconds as Hamilton rounded the Parabolica to cross the timing beam with a 1:18.887s and snatch top spot back.

A late lap from Sainz saw the McLaren driver snag a surprise third, though 0.808s slower than Hamilton.

The Spaniard was only 0.025s quicker than Sergio Perez’s Racing Point, with Max Verstappen fifth in the leading Red Bull.

Sixth went to Lando Norris in the second McLaren with the top 10 rounded out by Ricciardo, Lance Stroll (Racing Point), Alex Albon (Red Bull), and Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri).

While Mercedes locked out the front row, for Ferrari it marked the worst qualifying performance at Monza since 1984, with neither car reaching the top 10.

The 53 lap Italian Grand Prix is scheduled to start from 23:10 AEST tonight.

Result: Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying

Pos Num Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.514 1:19.092 1:18.887
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:19.786 1:18.952 1:18.956
3 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 1:20.099 1:19.705 1:19.695
4 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:20.048 1:19.718 1:19.720
5 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 1:20.193 1:19.780 1:19.795
6 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 1:20.344 1:19.962 1:19.820
7 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:20.548 1:20.031 1:19.864
8 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point BWT Mercedes 1:20.400 1:19.924 1:20.049
9 23 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing Honda 1:21.104 1:20.064 1:20.090
10 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda 1:20.145 1:19.909 1:20.177
11 26 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri Honda 1:20.307 1:20.169
12 31 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:20.747 1:20.234
13 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:20.443 1:20.273
14 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:21.010 1:20.926
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:20.869 1:21.573
16 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:21.139
17 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:21.151
18 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 1:21.206
19 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 1:21.587
20 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 1:21.717

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