Räikkönen on pole as Ferrari lock-out Monza front-row

by Jake Nichol

Kimi Räikkönen produced the fastest-ever lap in Formula 1 history on Saturday afternoon at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, as the Finn secured pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, with Scuderia Ferrari locking-out the front-row of the grid.

Räikkönen was at the back of a train of both Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport cars and team-mate Sebastian Vettel on the final runs of Q3, and the 2007 world champion improved his time to a 1m:19.119 – the outright fastest lap in F1 history, clocked at an impressive 163.785mph.

Räikkönen made most of his time up in the final sector of the lap, gaining an optimum tow from the #5 Ferrari to secure pole, his first since the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.

Vettel, who towed Räikkönen on both laps in the final segment of qualifying was 0.161 seconds slower than the sister Ferrari and radioed to the team on the cool-down lap that ‘we’ll speak later’ indicating his unhappiness with the situation.

Lewis Hamilton had sent the initial pace in Q3, with a 1m19.390 and although he improved his time, he was leap-frogged by both Ferrari’s – the Scuderia’s first lock-out at its home circuit since 2000.

Vettel out-qualified Hamilton by just 0.014 seconds, with Valtteri Bottas making it an all-Mercedes second-row on the grid.

The sole Aston Martin Red Bull Racing to make it through to Q3 of Max Verstappen took fifth, alongside the Haas F1 Team car of Romain Grosjean. 

Row four of the grid will be filled by Carlos Sainz Jr. and Esteban Ocon, as Pierre Gasly gave Honda its first top ten start in Italy since it returned as an engine supplier in 2015.

Williams Martini Racing secured its first Q3 appearance of the season, as Canadian driver Lance Stroll qualified in tenth place.

Lance Stroll - Williams Martini Racing - Autodromo Nazionale Monza

Lance Stroll secured Williams’ first Q3 appearance of the season, and will start in tenth place.
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Stroll into Q3 for Williams

As Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg knew that they would be starting at the back, they did not set competitive lap times, although the Renault driver did go out in the closing stages in a bid to aid team-mate Sainz with a tow.

Williams was the only team prior to qualifying to not make a Q3 appearance but Stroll ended that barren run by securing his place inside the top ten with a 1m:21.494, which was eighth fastest in the session.

Team-mate Sergey Sirotkin failed to make it a double Q3 appearance, although he did out-qualify the McLaren F1 Team car of Fernando Alonso. 

The Spaniard’s final lap was ruined when he and Kevin Magnussen fought over the same piece of track at the Turn 1 chicane, with both losing the chance to improve their lap time, with Magnussen the first driver who missed out on a Q3 slot, qualifying in eleventh place. The Dane will now be the first driver on the grid to have a free choice on tyres on which to start the grand prix.

Up front, Vettel again topped the qualifying segment, this time ahead of Hamilton by just under three-tenths.  Ferrari driver Vettel had set a 1m:19.885s, with Hamilton just 0.013s slower, before he lowered the benchmark to a 1m:19.629s.

All drivers who made Q3 used the super-soft Pirelli tyres, meaning that they will start the race on the fastest and softest compound of rubber available.

Pérez big name exit in Q1

The shock of Q1 was the elimination of Sergio Pérez, by the narrow margin of just 0.001s.

After topping FP1 on Friday, Pérez set a lap time of 1m:22.888 for Racing Point Force India, and believed that to be a sufficient time to progress into Q2.

However, in a late flurry of laps by those in the drop-zone, including Gasly, Pérez slipped to sixteenth, with Grosjean the driver to edge the Mexican out of qualifying.

Joining Pérez in dropping out were Charles Leclerc, Brendon Hartley, Marcus Ericsson, and Stoffel Vandoorne, who qualified slowest of all, despite a tow from McLaren team-mate Alonso.

Due to grid penalties for Hülkenberg, Ricciardo, and Ericsson, Vandoorne will move up to start in seventeenth, with the Renault and Red Bull drivers set to populate the final row of the grid.

At the top of the timing sheets, Vettel set the pace, with a 1m:20.542, just under two-tenths faster than Ferrari team-mate Räikkönen, with Hamilton in close attendance behind.

Autodromo Nazionale Monza Qualifying Result

PositionNumberNationality DriverTeamTime/Gap
POLE7FINKimi RäikkönenFerrari1m:19.119s
2nd5GERSebastian VettelFerrari+0.161s
3rd44GBR Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.175s
4th77FINValtteri BottasMercedes+0.537s
5th33NEDMax VerstappenRed Bull+1.496s
6th8FRARomain GrosjeanHaas+1.817s
7th55ESPCarlos Sainz, JrRenault+1.922s
8th31FRAEsteban Ocon Force India +1.980s
9th10FRAPierre Gasly Toro Rosso+2.231s
10th18CANLance StrollWilliams+2.508s
11th20DENKevin MagnussenHaas1:21.669s - Q2
12th35RUSSergey SirotkinWilliams+2.103s
13th14ESPFernando AlonsoMcLaren+2.939s
14th11MEXSergio PerezForce India 1:21.888s -Q1
15th16MONCharles LeclercSauber+1.347
16th28NZLBrendon HartleyToro Rosso+1.392
17th2BELStoffel VandoorneMcLaren+1.543
18th9SWEMarcus EricssonSauberGRID PENALTY
19th3 AUS Daniel RicciardoRed BullGRID PENALTY
20th27GERNico Hülkenberg
RenaultGRID PENALTY

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