Lewis Hamilton tops qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix.
Monza, a circuit where pole is more vital than on the streets of Monaco. And the man with pole in the bag for the 2016 Italian Grand Prix is Lewis Hamilton after storming the Temple of Speed for the third straight year.
Rosberg came to Italy on the back of pole and victory in Belgium, but from the off in qualifying at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza Hamilton had the upper hand. Setting the fastest time in Q1 after Rosberg broke first, then again in Q2.
Hamilton followed up his flying start to take provisional pole by two-tenths of a second. Before Rosberg was unable to reply as Lewis improved to secure pole position.
First out the blocks as the pit lane opened was the Manor of Wehrlein, leading Magnussen out onto the track with the medium tyres. But on the hardest compound on offer, Wehrlein’s run lasted one lap as he peeled back in – leaving the track open for Magnussen to lay down the benchmark.
Immediately into Magnussen’s first flyer, a mistake into the first corner cost the Dane time. But for others about to hit the first chicane, their laps would be hampered as Esteban Ocon parked in the slip road.
In the final practice session of the weekend, Esteban’s session would entail just an installation lap by the mid-way stage – with the Manor struggling with an electronics issue back in FP2. Then come the start of Q1, “guys, same problem again,” radioed in Ocon.
Once Ocon’s car was cleared to the side and the yellow flags were put away, the times began to tumble. With Button firstly moving the McLaren into third, but was swiftly demoted by Massa, Verstappen and Vettel.
The battle for third was the lively battle, as Mercedes ran early with the supersoft rubber. Believed to be the worse race tyre, Mercedes saw no issue in running the softest compound from the off. And with the softest compound, Rosberg then Hamilton topped the timesheet.
Tucking in behind, but over a second down, were the Ferrari’s as they ran on the soft compound tyres. Yet the change in compound failed to prevent the Ferrari’s from placing ahead of either Red Bull.
While at the back, as the chequered flag, the fight to survive continued to rumble on.
Firstly, like as the session went live, Magnussen could draw first blood as he crossed the line to set his final time. But, unable to find any gains, Kevin crossed the line for 20th place, behind his team-mate and pushed back by the improving Ericsson.
Without a time set in Q1, Ocon will line up alongside the Dane in 22nd place. But for his team-mate, Q2 beckoned for the second weekend in a row as Wehrlein soared into 15th place – ahead of Alonso.
For Fernando, the final moments were twitchy as he sat on the cusp of elimination. But as others crossed the line, the sweat could be whipped away as he crept into Q2 by four-hundredths of a second.
Kvyat came closest to eliminating the McLaren, and ex-Ferrari, driver. But an error cost the Russian his chance, barking “what the ****, ******* last corner again” after missing the cut.
After running the softest compound on offer in Q1, Mercedes hit the track straight away with the soft tyres for Q2 in a move aimed at the race.
Despite the harder compound, Mercedes retained their monumental advantage as Rosberg hit the top on a 1:21.809, before Lewis found three-tenths in the final sector to demote the German.
While the Silver Arrows coasted back to the pits, the battle behind unfolded with Ferrari running the supersofts alongside Williams. While Red Bull looked to follow Mercedes through on the softs.
The Red Bulls, however, crossed the line over one and a half seconds down on the pace setting Hamilton. With Ricciardo leading 10th placed Verstappen, four-tenths off 11th placed Sainz.
Ferrari on the supersofts, meanwhile, were split by the Williams duo. With Vettel third, seven-tenths of a second off Hamilton.
Come the second runs, Vettel and Bottas remained in their garages as Red Bull rejoined the action on the supersoft tyres after their first run left them in a dangerous position. Hamilton, too, came back out of the pits on another set of softs after locking up during his first run.
But down in the first sector, Hamilton had to push on in order to improve – setting a purple middle sector. But another slow sector followed, and Lewis crossed the line with a slower lap on the board. Leaving him with a flat spot on his starting tyres.
As for the drivers aiming to improve for Q3, Gutierrez jumped up into sixth, leaving Ricciardo in the drop zone after Verstappen improved. Ricciardo, though, improved himself to jump ahead of Gutierrez and Verstappen. Ensuring his place in the top-10.
Perez followed the gain train as he moved up from 11th to 9th at the expense of Massa. With Felipe unable to improve, and out of qualifying for his last Italian Grand Prix after his retirement announcement.
Massa was joined in elimination by both McLaren’s and Wehrlein, with the Manor splitting McLaren’s world champions. Button, Alonso and Wehrlein will benefit from Grosjean, who will fall back from 12th after a gearbox change.
In the provisional pole shoot-out, Rosberg broke the silence as he hit the track first. Setting the benchmark time in each sector on way to a 1:21.646.
Hamilton, meanwhile, was hunting. Going two-tenths up in the first sector, before finding a matter of hundredths a second across the lap to edge Rosberg for P1.
Behind the Silver Arrows nestled Raikkonen, as the man who followed Hamilton out the pits crossed the line seven-tenths off the reigning champion. Kimi, though, was the leading Ferrari – with Vettel three-tenths back.
Narrow margins split Vettel from Bottas, as the remaining Williams crossed the line for fifth – ahead of the Red Bulls, Force India’s and Esteban Guttierez.
The second runs followed swiftly, with the order in the lower half unchanged. But the fight for pole continued as Rosberg posted a personal best first sector.
Although he set a personal best, Rosberg remained down on Hamilton’s benchmark through the first sector. But as he continued to push, Rosberg set a new fastest middle sector as Hamilton failed to improve through the first.
Hamilton, though, replied in sector two with a new fastest time as Rosberg crossed the line, only able to improve by a matter of hundredths.
With pole already in the bag, Hamilton still pushed on, setting another new fastest final sector as he claimed his third straight Monza pole.
With P5 to 10 remaining unchanged after the first Q3 runs, Vettel improved to edge Raikkonen for third as the Ferrari’s locked out the second row of the grid.
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1’22.389||1.254|
|7||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1’22.411||1.276|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India||1’22.814||1.679|
|9||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1’22.836||1.701|
|16||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||1’23.496||2.361|
|17||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1’23.825||2.690|
|22||Esteban Ocon||Manor||No time set||—|