Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020

Formula One: Lewis Hamilton seals record-breaking pole again as Ferrari suffer humiliating day in Italian Grand Prix qualifying

Brit continues his domination of F1 season, while Leclerc and Vettel fail to make the top 10 on home turf at Monza

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates with team members after he sealed pole position in the Italian Grand Prix
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates with team members after he sealed pole position in the Italian Grand Prix

Six times world champion Lewis Hamilton smashed the Monza track record to take pole position for the Italian Grand Prix with the fastest lap in Formula One history on Saturday.

The Mercedes driver produced a sensational lap of one minute 18.887 seconds on a sunny afternoon to lead Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas in another front row lockout.

McLaren's Carlos Sainz qualified third, with Racing Point's Sergio Perez fourth and a surprisingly uncompetitive Max Verstappen fifth for Red Bull.

The session proved humbling for Ferrari with Sebastian Vettel going out in Q1 and Charles Leclerc in Q2 – the first time since 1984 that the team failed to qualify in the top 10 with either car at Monza.

Leclerc was 13th while Vettel eliminated in the first session, in 17th place, after getting caught in an on-track mix-up as drivers jostled for the perfect position seeking a slipstream.

It was the 94th pole of Hamilton's career – his seventh at Monza – and shattered the idea that a clampdown on so-called engine 'party modes' would affect his team's performance.

If Hamilton turns this into a win, he will just be one race victory behind Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91.

"It’s not too bad. Fantastic performance from the team," said Hamilton. "Not the easiest, you’ve seen how close it was between us. It needed a clean lap and I got both.

"Valtteri was strong and kept pushing. I was a bit nervous going through the final sector.

"In the years I’ve been here I’ve had times we we had less downforce and grip, the speed through the Lesmos was awesome. It’s trying to finds the right balance which is not so easy."

Bottas, though, remains confident that he can make a race of it. "It was really close, as I was expecting," he said. "In the end I was on my own which is not too bad a place to be but you don't get any gains in a straight line.

"My long run pace compared to Lewis is good. It is going to be a good race tomorrow. It is still all to play for."

Sainz, meanwhile, was delighted with how his McLaren performed. "I've been feeling strong in qualifying and put in a strong lap," he said.

"The last lap I nearly messed up in Lesmo 1. I'm shaking a bit because at Ascari I had to just go for it.

"I felt like I was nailing Q1 ands Q2 and then Q3, run one I was a bit nervy. I needed a final strong corner. I risked the lot and went for it. Into Ascari I was like 'whoa, that was a bit late.'

"The Renaults I thought would be quicker but this is great."

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Belgian Grand Prix gallery

Updated: September 5, 2020 09:09 PM

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