Valtteri Bottas stormed to sprint qualifying victory at the Italian Grand Prix, in what was a mixed afternoon for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, with Lewis Hamilton finishing fifth.
It was a perfect afternoon for Bottas, the Finnish driver led from the off and never looked back in the second installment of sprint qualifying to pick up three all important world championship points, ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. Unfortunately for Bottas he won’t be starting the main race from pole which is of course the reward for winning the sprint qualifying.
Bottas will start the main race from the back of the grid after taking an engine penalty, meaning that Verstappen inherits pole position.
This is bad news for world champion Lewis Hamilton, the British driver had a sprint to forget after an uncharacteristically poor start. Hamilton was riddled with wheel-spin off the line which saw him tumble down to fifth. Unfortunately that would be where Hamilton would finish, the seven-time world champion failed to recover any places lost, meaning he received zero points from the sprint.
Hamilton goes into Sunday’s main race now five points behind Verstappen and will start from fourth, behind Verstappen and both Mclaren F1 Team drivers. Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff is proud of Bottas’s performance in what was a mixed day for the team, and is hoping that not all is lost on Sunday.
“That was a mixed afternoon for us. Valtteri didn’t put a foot wrong and put in a really strong performance to finish first on the road. Of course, he won’t convert it into pole position because of the engine penalties, and it will be a tough race tomorrow to make his way back through the field because overtaking here is not easy, as we saw today.
“For Lewis, the outcome was decided by the start; there was too much wheel spin off the line, he lost positions and then in such a short race distance, there wasn’t enough of a performance delta to make back any positions to the cars in front. It’s not the outcome we wanted but there is still plenty to play for tomorrow in the race. We will spend the evening looking at our options on strategy with both cars, to make sure we take every opportunity to maximise our points score.”