Verstappen in pole at Italian Grand Prix, Bottas wins sprint

Monza (Italy) (AFP) –


Max Verstappen will start the Formula One Italian Grand Prix at the front of the grid despite finishing second in Saturday's qualifying sprint.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas won the 18-lap race at Monza ahead of Verstappen but was already condemned to start Sunday's GP at the back of the grid after being penalised for taking on power unit components in qualifying on Friday.

Red Bull's Verstappen also claimed two championship points to extend his lead on Lewis Hamilton to five after the reigning champion finished fifth, some 20 seconds off the pace.

Hamilton had started the sprint in second place behind Bottas but dropped back in the field after a dreadful start which will make his latest bid for a 100th GP win that much harder.

The seven-time F1 champion has been stuck on 99 wins since victory at the British GP in July, but after strong displays in both practices and qualifying looked in good shape to make his century.

However he will have his work cut out for him from the second row after both Verstappen and McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo came up either side of him to overtake right at the start.

Pierre Gasly would have also have stolen a place on the Briton had he not then slid off the track at the first bend after making contact with Ricciardo.

Just behind Hamilton in the third row will be Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who won at Monza in 2019 and is hoping for the home support to help push the Scuderia to another good result.

His teammate Carlos Sainz will be alongside him after finishing seventh having crashed out of practice earlier on Saturday and then having to sweat on his car being repaired in time for the sprint.