Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix from pole position. Fending off the challenge from Nico Rosberg for the top spot, Hamilton completed a 1:24:109 to nudge his championship rival away from the front. But not only did Lewis secure pole position after topping each qualifying session, he secured his first pole position since the Spanish Grand Prix.
In the final free practice session Hamilton capitalised on an electronics problem for Rosberg to take the top spot like he did in the opening free practice session. But with Rosberg edging Hamilton out in FP2, it is all still to play for tomorrow in the fiercely competitive championship fight.
Come the green light for the start of Q1, the track was immediately home to a handful of cars with timed laps from the off. For some it has taken time to get the heat into the tyres before they are able to post their competitive times.
As the times slowly came to the board, a basic order began to form with Kvyat taking an early lead. For Maldonado, despite using the soft tyres early on, he remained in the lower positions border lining on the drop. But despite this, a chance to participate in Q2 remained as his team-mate was forced into staying in the pits.
Hamilton was one of the drivers requiring a warm up lap before posting his flying lap. In this time Rosberg was able to top the time sheets after setting the fastest first sector of the weekend so far. But this wasn’t enough to stay on top as the next time Hamilton crossed the finish line, he moved to P1, and Massa followed suit for P2.
Massa would go on to challenge the Mercedes dominating order when he took P1 away from Hamilton. They both had improved along their laps with Hamilton going purple in the second sector. However, the was unable to improve and after setting a purple sector 1, Massa went P1. The Brazilian wouldn’t however hold the top spot for too long with the Mercedes drivers regaining their top 2 status. This time the Silver Arrows would go on to keep their positions for the remainder of Q1, with Massa and Bottas coming home third and fourth.
Whilst these battled for the front spots, Vettel was battling his car just to take turn one. Like many across the weekend, the current world-champion was forced into taking the escape road after being unable to commit to the first chicane.
Eventually Grosjean was able to hit the track following the team resolving the fuel leak that kept him in the garage. However despite the five minutes of running he had at his disposal on the medium tyres, he joined Maldonado, Kobayashi, Bianchi, Chilton and Ericsson out of Q1. Before the chequered flag dropped, Sutil had been able to improve on his previous personal best to ensure both Sauber’s were participating in Q2. This came at the expense of Maldonado who was told by the team not to change gear, meaning he was unable to provide a late challenge.
Come the second period of qualifying Hulkenberg hit the track from the green light on the medium tyres. By the time he started his first timed lap he had only been joined by two others. These were Kvyat and Sutil before Gutierrez and Rosberg lead a flurry of cars onto the track.
Despite a clean lap with no traffic, Hulkenberg was only able to post a 1:31:488. That time would have seen him in last place during Q1, and emphasised the need by some to carry out warm up laps. Especially as on the subsequent lap, he improved to a 1:26:279.
Hulkenberg’s time would soon be pushed down the order as others began to post their early times. Firstly Kvyat nudged the German down the order, despite running wide on the exit of Ascari, before Perez, the two Ferrari’s, the two Williams and Rosberg found their feet.
By the time most of the early runners had returned to the pits, a handful of drivers still required a timed lap. With one of those being Lewis Hamilton. This didn’t prevent the Brit moving to P1 by a tenth of a second to Rosberg. However, on that lap Hamilton suffered a lock up leaving a slight flat-spot on his front-right tyre. As he was unable to improve on his second stint in Q2, Lewis will start tomorrow’s race on those tyres.
For the other Brit competing in Q2, Jenson Button managed to move up into sixth place. Unfortunately for his team-mate, this knocked Kevin Magnussen out of the top 10.
Heading into the final minutes of the session, all drivers in Q2 were back on track as they looked to ensure a Q3 outing. For Raikkonen, he was on the border of the drop by just 1 thousandths of a second to Magnussen. He had the chance to carry out two timed laps however on the first lap a lock up at turn one and running wide at the second chicane resulted in him abandoning that lap.
Now into the final lap with the chequered flag waving, Vettel crossed the line to take seventh. Luckily for him, that is where he ended Q2 as the drivers behind were unable to dislodge him. But for Kimi, he was dislodged from the top 10 as Magnussen found his way back in.
Joining Kimi Raikkonen out of Q2 at Ferrari’s home Grand Prix where; Kvyat (P11), Vergne (P13), Hulkenberg (P14), Sutil (P15) and Gutierrez (P16). Those positions will change for the start of the race with Kvyat’s 10-place grid penalty following the installation of his sixth internal combustion engine. Thus without any further penalties, Kvyat will start from 21st position with just Marcus Ericsson behind him.
Now into the top 10 shoot-out, Sergio Perez lead the way from the pits as the only Force India remaining in qualifying. He was also the only driver who took to the track early on in the final stage of qualifying.
By the time the stop watch began to tick for Perez, he was no longer the sole driver on the track. On the run down to the Lesmo’s, Rosberg allowed Sergio past in order not to hamper his lap, which ended with a 1:26:230, which would have seen him knocked out of Q2.
Now with all drivers out on track for their first run in Q3, Rosberg set purple sectors in both sector 1 and two. This lead to his lap time taking him to the top spot with the fastest lap of qualifying thus far. Bottas came over the line for second place but a storming Hamilton charged to P1, over four tenths quicker than Rosberg. During Hamilton’s lap, he posted the fastest middle and last sectors of qualifying but actually lost time to Rosberg in the first sector.
As it stood at the mid-way point, Hamilton held provisional pole from Rosberg, Bottas, Massa, Button, Vettel, Alonso, Magnussen, Ricciardo and Perez. Highlighting the Mercedes power advantage with Williams and McLaren providing the closest challenge at the top. But with one more stint to come, all was still to play for.
With the chequered flag waving, Vettel crossed the line but was unable to improve on his previous best. The same went for Bottas and Hamilton but with Rosberg unable to better Lewis’ time, Hamilton secured pole position. Magnussen managed to sneak past his team-mate to take fifth place after pipping Jenson by six hundredths of a second.
To conclude on the top order, it ended with Hamilton on pole followed by; Rosberg, Bottas, Massa, Magnussen, Button, Alonso, Vettel, Ricciardo and Perez. Meaning Mercedes power dominated the top six at Monza.
|8||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.631||1:25.769||1:25.436||18|
|9||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.721||1:25.946||1:25.709||17|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.569||1:25.863||1:25.944||23|
|14||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.371||1:26.279||18|
|Q1 107% Time||1:31.338|