Another weekend and Mercedes showing outright dominance yet again. In driving another blindingly fast qualifying lap in the final minutes of Q3, Lewis Hamilton, six-time world champion and the best driver of the grid, yet again demonstrated why he’s so highly rated as he grabbed pole position with utter dominance.
Setting a majestic 1:18:887, Lewis bettered his teammate by only six thousands of a second, Finnish Valtteri Bottas being the first of the ten drivers to cross the checkered flag in setting 1:18:956.
Hammertime, once again
Interestingly, until the fading moments of Q3, both Mercedes hadn’t managed to get into the one-eighteens of their lap time, the final rushes bringing out their best, once again.
In so doing, Hamilton raced to his 94th career pole, which happened to be his 68th for Mercedes, a team with which he’s bagged no fewer than five world championship titles.
Having said that, the honor for driving the lap of the day belonged to McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr., who, in the process of setting a speedy 1:19:695 bettered both Red Bulls and Racing Points in reaching the third slot on the grid.
This was not only the Spaniard’s best start of the season but also his personal best performance at Monza, home to the Italian Grand Prix.
For a driver who had to endure the ignominy of not even starting the recent 2020 Belgian Grand Prix, this was a mighty result, and one that must be hailed. Sainz proving yet again, why he’s so rated even as at the back of his mind, he must be dreading the 2021 move, which will see him line-up alongside Leclerc at Ferrari.
Fourth belonged to Sergio Perez, who equaled his best-ever qualifying start setting an impressive 1:19:720. Given that ‘Checo’ is only eight-tenths adrift of third-placed Sainz, come race day and we could see some massive competition for positions in that regard.
Down in fifth was Max Verstappen, who admittedly, confessed to the team to be losing a lot of time on the straights, Monza after all, being a straight-line centric track, also the fastest on the roster.
No Red Bull on the second row for a change
The qualifying result also indicating that we shall not have a Red Bull beginning the challenge from the second row.
Down in sixth was Lando Norris in the other McLaren, yet another impressive young talent to have branched out to Formula 1, the highest annals of racing. A driver who defends his grid position excellently, it shall be interesting to see whether Norris can make something of a battle with Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who will be beginning his Monza run from seventh on the grid.
Compared to the fourth he gathered at Spa for the just-concluded Belgian Grand Prix, Ricciardo is bound to feel a tad bit disappointed with his result but he would take that seventh any day over the team’s frustration of seeing only one Renault car making it to the top ten.
Stroll, Albon, and Gasly made it to eighth, ninth, and tenth, respectively. It must be said, the Thai-British driver has seen better qualifying days as twice he managed to get his lap times deleted, running wide outside the white line in the closing stages (in the run down to the start/finish line), first in Q2 and then, in Q3, hence having to endure an arduous qualifying session than he would’ve liked.
Gasly must feel having completed yet another fine qualifying session and as a matter of fact, has never fallen below twelfth in all his qualifying runs so far; the only promising Alpha Tauri driver of the two, including the Russian Torpedo.
Nothing too great for the midfield, save Raikkonen’s surprise
Daniil Kvyat, in the other Alpha Tauri, outqualified by this teammate once again, with start his 2020 Italian Grand Prix from eleventh on the grid, followed by Esteban Ocon, in the other Renault.
Ocon, though initially quicker in Q1, couldn’t improve on his lap times and suffered in Q2, the Frenchman stationed in on twelfth.
Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc, who upon making his way into the pits at the end of Q2 submitted, “that’s the best I could’ve done”, failed it to make it to the last qualifying run. He will begin his Monza run from thirteenth on the grid.
On fourteenth was Kimi Raikkonen in his Alfa Romeo, the Iceman making it to Q2 for only the second time this season, a much better result than his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi, the latter, contesting in his home Grand Prix.
Raikkonen, who scored that memorable 1:19:119, the fastest-ever lap in F1 history, positioned himself just ahead of Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, the Dane experiencing great speed in Q1, before struggling and ultimately spinning out into the gravel trap during the second qualifying session.
The final five on the grid were Romain Grosjean (P16), Sebastian Vettel (P17), Antonio Giovinazzi (P18), George Russell (P19), and Nicholas Latifi.
Heartbreak for Ferrari, the home team
But the biggest heartbreak from the Italian GP qualifying, it must be submitted, was the Ferrari result. Not since 1984, has anyone seen both Ferraris falling outside top ten for a race start for their home race event.
But then, given their massive woes this year, wasn’t this the writing on the wall? Leclerc, though, on thirteenth, would still fancy his chances to break early into the top ten. But again, does his SF 1000 have enough race-pace in it to pack a punch?
The fighting trio out in the front, would once again, determine the order of the race with Lewis Hamilton, looking in ominous touch. Should he win the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, it would mark his ninetieth career win, which would mean he would need only one more to match the great Michael Schumacher. Lights out and away we go at the Temple of Speed!