Hamilton in record pole for Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari fail to fire


Monza (Italy) (AFP)

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position with a new lap record at Monza for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix with Valtteri Bottas taking second in Saturday qualifying for another Mercedes front row lock-out.

McLaren's Carlos Sainz posted the third fastest time and is joined on the second row by Sergio Perez for Racing Point.

The session proved another humbling experience for out-of-sorts Ferrari with Sebastian Vettel going out in Q1 and Charles Leclerc, who won at the circuit last year, in Q2.

This means no Ferrari inside the top 10 at Monza for the first time since 1984.

The championship leader and six-time champion clocked a fastest lap in one minute and 18.887 seconds to beat the Finn by 0.069 seconds. In pure speed, Hamilton’s track lap record performance produced an unconfirmed fastest lap in F1 history.

It was Hamilton’s record-increasing 94th career pole position, his sixth in seven races and his seventh in Italy.

"It wasn’t too bad," said Hamilton, with a hint of a smile.

"It was a fantastic performance from the team -- in terms of timing, when they put us out on the track,” said Hamilton, referring to Mercedes’ avoidance of the jostling mass of cars seeking a slip-streaming tow from each other.

"It was not the easiest as you saw how close it is between us all so it demanded a really clean lap – and I felt I got that, so I am very happy."

Max Verstappen was fifth for Red Bull, Lando Norris qualified sixth in the second McLaren ahead of Daniel Ricciardo of Renault, Lance Stroll in the second Racing Point, Alex Albon in the second Red Bull and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri.

Bottas also broke the track record twice and said: "It was really close as I expected. I am not sure about the tow – I didn’t have any until the end and I kind of felt the benefit, but then on the final lap I was on my own again.

"It was a good place to be, but obviously we didn’t get any gains in a straight line.”

Sainz said: “I was a bit nervy, but I needed a final strong corner so I risked the lot and went for it.”

This was Hamilton's 68th pole as a Mercedes driver in the first qualifying following the banning of engine ‘party modes’.