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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Lewis Hamilton takes record pole at Monza while teenage rookie Lance Stroll will start Italian Grand Prix alongside him

Max Verstappen second fastest in a much-delayed session but has grid penalties along with Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo

Mercedes-GP driver driver Lewis Hamilton, cente, celebrates after taking pole position for Sunday's Italian Formula One Grand Prix. Luca Bruno / AP Photo
Mercedes-GP driver driver Lewis Hamilton, cente, celebrates after taking pole position for Sunday's Italian Formula One Grand Prix. Luca Bruno / AP Photo

Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton took a record 69th Formula One pole position in a wet Italian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday with title rival Sebastian Vettel only eighth for Ferrari.

The Mercedes-GP driver was more than a second quicker than Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen, the second fastest in a much-delayed session that ended more than three and a half hours after it started.

Verstappen's Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo was third ahead of Canadian rookie Lance Stroll of Williams, French rookie Esteban Ocon of Force India and Finn Valtteri Bottas, who was sixth in the second Mercedes.

With the two Red Bulls hit by major grid penalties for taking new engine components, Stroll will start Sunday's race, forecast to take place in dry conditions, from second on the grid alongside Hamilton.

Vettel will also move up to sixth position as a result of those penalties.

Hamilton, who is seven points behind championship leader Vettel and can take the overall lead on Sunday, equalled Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 68 poles last weekend in Belgium.

It was the fourth year in a row that the Briton has taken pole at Monza, the fastest circuit on the calendar.

"To do this here at such an historic circuit - I am going to have some pasta tonight to celebrate," Hamilton said.

"Sixty-nine poles - I just can't believe it."

It was the fourth year in a row that the Briton has taken pole at Monza, the fastest circuit on the calendar, but he left it until the final seconds to put it beyond all doubt after Verstappen had gone fastest.

The Briton did it with a monumental lap, 1.148 seconds quicker, with clouds of spray thrown up from the car as he gave it everything with one final dramatic effort.

"I have no words. Lewis' lap was unbelievable," said the Mercedes team's non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, himself a triple champion and multiple past winner at Italy's historic "Temple of Speed".

Vettel, who took his first grand prix win at Monza with Toro Rosso in 2008 after taking pole in similar conditions, never looked to be in the game.

If that left the passionate Ferrari fans crestfallen at the prospect of another difficult weekend at their home circuit, the German put on a brave face.

"I don't know what the problem was. I was surprised by how quick the others went, we couldn't match them," he told reporters. "There are a couple of things we will look into. Something didn't work.

"We have a good car so we don't need to be afraid. Tomorrow we can make up a lot of ground and you can overtake here."

Brazilian Felipe Massa was ninth in the second Williams and Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne 10th for McLaren.

The session ended nearly four hours after it had begun with a curtailed Q1 brought to an early red-flagged halt when Frenchman Romain Grosjean aquaplaned and crashed in his Haas car.

He was unhurt but accused F1 race organisers of "double standards" for starting the session in dangerous conditions.

The Frenchman said the circuit was too dangerous for qualifying to have started, adding that it was obvious that there was too much water standing on the Autodromo Nazionale circuit.

"They absolutely don't listen to us," Grosjean said. "I just think it's not normal. It's double standards. They should listen to us in these conditions - it really sucks."

Onboard film of his accident showed that his car appeared to aquaplane twice before it speared left into the barriers before bouncing back across the track.

"I'm going to try to be calm and not say anything I may regret, but I think we shouldn't have launched 'quali'," he told reporters.

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