World championship leader Max Verstappen will start the Italian Grand Prix from pole position, after sprint qualifying winner Valtteri Bottas takes an engine penalty. Team-mate Sergio Pérez to start from eighth at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
As the second installment of sprint qualifying came to a close, Verstappen probably couldn’t believe his luck. The Dutchman finished second at Monza and collected an additional two world championship points, unlike Lewis Hamilton who received none. The world champion had a poor sprint and finished in fifth, meaning the British driver will start from fourth spot for Sunday’s race.
This means Verstappen who will start from pole with Bottas starting from the back after taking an engine penalty, goes into the race with a five point lead in the standings. The Dutchman is hoping for a clean race on Sunday and knows just how important it will be to make a gap quickly.
“To be on pole tomorrow at a track like this is a real positive for us, we had a good start and the race went better than expected. We scored a few championship points and it’s great to be starting at the front tomorrow. I was giving it my all to keep close to Valtteri today, but I still expect a tough race tomorrow as Lewis is starting in P4 and they have a bit more pace than us, we know we are slower than the Mercedes here.
“I’m hoping for another clean start tomorrow so I can create a bit of a gap at the beginning, because I will definitely need it later in the race. It’s going to be an interesting battle and we’ll see what happens, we’ll keep pushing and try to make the most out of it.”
“It was pretty hard to pass” – Sergio Pérez
On the other side of the Red Bull Racing garage, it was a difficult sprint for Sergio Pérez. The Mexican who started the sprint in ninth failed to make any real progress during the short race, after getting stuck behind Lance Stroll.
Pérez struggled to get past the Mercedes powered Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team car, the Mexican even ventured off the circuit to try and get past before having to give the place back.
Eventually Pérez did make it past, however no further progress was made as the Mexican finished the sprint in ninth, but inherits an eighth place start for Sunday’s race with Bottas starting last. Pérez is hopeful that Sunday can be positive and is hoping that a good strategy will help him make his way through the field.
“I think we have a good chance in the race tomorrow, we start P8 and there should be more opportunities to come through the field with our strategy. I was hoping to gain a few more places, but my start wasn’t ideal and it was pretty hard to pass. We need to work hard tonight to find some more pace, but I am looking forward to it.
“On the incident with Stroll, I just didn’t have anywhere to go so had to cut the corner to avoid hitting the curb and damaging my race, I gave back the position as soon as I was able to.”