Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton Storms to Pole as Mercedes Dominate Qualifying at Monza

4 Mins read
Credit: LAT Images

Lewis Hamilton continued his dominance in 2020 as he secured his ninety-fourth career pole position for the Italian Grand Prix as the so-called party mode ban had no effect on the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team as they locked out the front row of the grid.

Hamilton broke the lap record on his way to top spot, denying his team-mate Valtteri Bottas by less than a tenth of a second, with the rest of the field more than eight-tenths of a second adrift of the leading duo.

The FIA clamped down ahead of the weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in a bid to close up the field, but it appears that all that has happened is Mercedes have pulled an even bigger gap to their rivals, with their usual closest challengers, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, down in fifth and ninth respectively.

Q1 – Vettel Suffers as Traffic Chaos Returns to Monza

Sebastian Vettel was a high-profile casualty of Q1, with the German being heavily baulked at turn one as six cars vied for track position.  Vettel was fourth in queue exiting Parabolica starting his lap, but he lost time as Esteban Ocon, Kimi Räikkönen, George Russell, Alexander Albon and Antonio Giovinazzi all tried to gain an advantage.

Ocon appeared to hold up Räikkönen heading around the Curva Grande, while those behind tripped over each other.  Ocon, Räikkönen and Albon were lucky to get through into Q2 – the latter after having a quicker lap time deleted for track limits at Parabolica – while Vettel ended seventeenth for his first Q1 elimination of 2020.

Romain Grosjean made a mistake on his final flying lap at Parabolica and was first of those to be eliminated, with the Haas F1 Team driver banging his steering wheel in frustration on the way into the pit lane.

Giovinazzi will start his home race from eighteenth on the grid, while the Williams Racing team will fill the back row on the final race weekend under the leadership of Sir Frank Williams following their recent takeover. 

Russell continued his domination of his team-mates in Formula 1 in Qualifying by beating Nicholas Latifi to nineteenth.  He has yet to be out-qualified by his team-mate since his arrival in the sport in 2019.

Q2 – Bottas Breaks Lap Record, Ferrari Miss out on Q3 at Home Race

Daniil Kvyat was the first of those to be eliminated in Q2, with the Russian unable to match the pace of his Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda team-mate Pierre Gasly throughout the Qualifying session.  He missed out on the top ten by just over a tenth a second, while Ocon was likewise eliminated in the second of the Renaults.

Charles Leclerc, the only Ferrari driver to make it into Q2, couldn’t muster up the pace to advance into Q3, with the Monegasque racer qualifying thirteenth for a second consecutive weekend having done so at Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Räikkönen, through to only his second Q2 appearance of 2020, was only fourteenth, while a mistake on his final flying lap at the second Lesmo bend prevented Kevin Magnussen from bettering fifteenth for Haas.

At the top of the timing screen, Hamilton initially broke the circuit lap record in Q2 with a 1:19.092 as Mercedes finally brought out the soft Pirelli compound having used the medium compound throughout Q1.  Both drivers went out again and whilst Hamilton did not improve, Bottas did to break the lap record again, taking it down to a 1:18.952. 

It defied many people’s belief that Mercedes would try to get through into Q3 on the mediums, and both Hamilton and Bottas will start on the soft on Sunday.  In fact, all ten drivers inside the top ten are now committed to starting the race on Pirelli’s red-banded soft compound.

Q3 – Mercedes Dominate, Super Sainz Takes Third

The first runs in Q3 saw Bottas hit the top with a 1:19.121, a few tenths slower than his best time in Q2, before he was relegated to second by Hamilton, the Briton setting a time of 1:19.068.  However, whereas both drivers improved on their second runs, Hamilton’s 1:18.887 regained the lap record ahead of Bottas, who set a 1:18.956.

Sergio Pérez set a great lap to put his BWT Racing Point Formula One Team RP20 into third ahead of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen on the first runs, but both were usurped at the chequered flag by Carlos Sainz Jr., although the McLaren F1 Team driver was 0.808 seconds away from Hamilton’s best.  Pérez will start fourth, while Verstappen and McLaren’s Lando Norris will share row three.

Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest first sector but was unable to back it up and will start seventh in the leading of the Renault’s, with Lance Stroll joining the Australian on the fourth row in the second Racing Point.

Ricciardo was lucky that the issue that halted his car during practice on Saturday morning was nothing more than a faulty fuel pump, and he was able to take to the track as soon as Qualifying got underway.

For the second time in Qualifying, Albon lost a time to track limits at Parabolica, the Thai driver ending up with just one chance of setting a lap time, and it was only good enough for ninth, with the top ten completed by the leading AlphaTauri of Gasly.

POS.NO.DRIVERNATTEAMTIME
144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:18.887
277Valtteri BottasFINMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:18.956
355Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPMcLaren F1 Team1:19.695
411Sergio PérezMEXBWT Racing Point Formula One Team1:19.720
533Max VerstappenNEDAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:19.795
64Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1:19.820
73Daniel RicciardoAUSRenault DP World F1 Team1:19.864
818Lance StrollCANBWT Racing Point Formula One Team1:20.049
923Alexander AlbonTHAAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:20.090
1010Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:20.177
1126Daniil KvyatRUSScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:20.169
1231Esteban OconFRARenault DP World F1 Team1:20.234
1316Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1:20.273
147Kimi RäikkönenFINAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN1:20.926
1520Kevin MagnussenDENHaas F1 Team1:21.573
168Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas F1 Team1:21.139
175Sebastian VettelGERScuderia Ferrari1:21.151
1899Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing ORLEN1:21.206
1963George RussellGBRWilliams Racing1:21.587
206Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1:21.717
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