Lewis Hamilton storms to Tuscan Grand Prix pole position
Valtteri Bottas helps secure another Mercedes front-row lockout
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton secured the 95th pole position of his career at the Tuscan Grand Prix on Saturday.
The six-time world champion entered the qualifying session having failed to top any of the three practice sessions at Mugello.
But Hamilton saved his best for the main show, edging out Valtteri Bottas by 0.059 seconds as Mercedes secured another front-row lockout.
Max Verstappen was unable to challenge Mercedes – the Dutchman finishing third, 0.365 sec behind Hamilton – with his Red Bull team-mate Alexander Albon fourth.
Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel finished fifth and 14th respectively at Ferrari's 1,000th Grand Prix.
Mercedes have now been on pole at every round this year with a car that is easily ahead of the pack.
Hamilton will start race day as the favourite to extend his 47-point championship lead over Bottas by winning for the 90th time, and moving to within just one of Michael Schumacher's all-time victory record.
Hamilton savoured his pole position, saying: "I have been working so hard in the background to improve my lines. Finally I got the lap that I needed.
"This track is phenomenal. It is a really challenging circuit. The G-force we are pulling is insane."
The spotlight is on Ferrari at their landmark race and chairman Louis Camilleri was spared the indignity of seeing his four-time world championship-winning driver fall at the first hurdle. Vettel snuck into Q2 by just five hundredths of a second before finishing 14th.
The German is off to race for Aston Martin next year and both driver and team will want to hurry through his remaining nine appearances as a Ferrari driver.
Camilleri will be among a host of Ferrari stars, past and present, to be involved in a public show celebrating the Italian team's F1 achievements in Florence's Piazza della Signoria.
But the team does so in the midst of its worst crisis in a generation. They head into Sunday's race sixth in the constructors' standings, a staggering 220 points behind Mercedes.
Although Leclerc fared much better than Vettel – he will start fifth – it will do little to improve the mood at the sport's most decorated team. The Monegasque driver was 1.1 sec slower than Hamilton.
British driver Lando Norris finished 11th, while his compatriot, George Russell extended his unbeaten career qualifying streak to 30-0.
The Williams driver has started every grand prix ahead of his team-mate, and in Italy will line up in 18th, one slot higher than Nicholas Latifi in the sister car.
Pierre Gasly was the surprise winner at last weekend's Italian Grand Prix but the Frenchman was brought back down to earth after he was knocked out in Q1. He finished 16th.
Updated: September 12, 2020 06:51 PM