Mercedes’ Hamilton captures record pole after long rain delay at Monza; Red Bull’s Verstappen & Ricciarado come home 2-3 but raft of penalties scramble field — Williams’ Stroll inherits P2, Ocon P3 for Force India
After an interminable rain delay in Monza that seemed sure to scrap Saturday qualifying, Formula 1 was near-miraculously able to get all three sessions in despite the deluge. And that very wet and wild qualifying session wound up producing a major bit of history at this legendary circuit in Italy. With conditions deteriorating rapidly yet again as the seconds wound down in Q3 and drivers setting times all over the place without consideration of their usual favored status, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton showed yet again that he is a man for all seasons. The last car to cross the finish line in the last qualifying session, the English championship contender earned a hard-fought pole position, breaking Formula 1’s all-time record and a tie with the great Michael Schumacher for the 69th of his remarkable career. That the Mercedes man did it in front of diehard Ferrari fanatics in pursuit of their hero and points leader Sebastian Vettel must have made it that much sweeter for the ultra-competitive Hamilton.
Red Bull also did very well in the rain, maximizing their cars’ natural superority in downforce and stability in tricky conditions to come home P2 for Max Verstappen and P3 for Daniel Ricciardo. But both drivers are facing hefty penalties for engine modifications and they will have to start from further back on the grid than their earned positions and well outside the Top 10. That meant that Williams’ rookie Lance was bumped up to P2 and Force India’s talented Esteban Ocon inherited P3.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas out-qualified both Ferraris — though strangely not the Williams or Force India — and will start from P4 after the Red Bulls demotion. The unhappy Prancing Horses therefore find themselves starting mired back in P5 for Kimi Raikkonen and P6 for Vettel. But in front of what is sure to be a very vocal throng of tifosi perhaps all that Italian home cooking can nourish the Ferraris to greater heights come race day.
Also getting into the Tope 10 were Stroll’s Williams teammate Felipe Massa and the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne with an excellent effort.
In an effort to clarify things on a confusing day, below find the actual quali times follow by the actual grid after all the penalties have been factored in.
Here are the Top 10 times in qualifying:
|2||33||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||1:37.344||1:36.113||1:36.702||29|
|3||3||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||1:38.304||1:37.313||1:36.841||26|
|5||31||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:38.775||1:37.580||1:37.719||29|
However these are the penalties for use of additional power unit elements: Alonso 35 grid places, Ricciardo 20, Verstappen 20, Sainz 10, Hulkenberg 10, Palmer 15. Ricciardo penalized a further 5 places for an unscheduled gearbox change.
Therefore here is the actual Top !0 grid for the race:
|3||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m37.719s||2.165s|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m37.582s||2.028s|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m38.245s||2.691s|
Tomorrow’s Italian GP airs live starting at 8AM Eastern on NBC Sports here in the States. What will the weather bring on Sunday and can Ferrari fight back to be a factor come when the lights go out? Hope to see you then to find out!