x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Hamilton lands pole at Monza

Lewis Hamilton has stormed to the 15th pole position of his career ahead of tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton was back inform with McLaren at Monza.
Lewis Hamilton was back inform with McLaren at Monza.

Lewis Hamilton stormed to the 15th pole position of his career ahead of tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix. The reigning world champion saved it until the final moment as he was the last to cross the line in a hotly-contested final 10-minute showdown, deposing Force India's Adrian Sutil from top spot. There was a possibility Hamilton could be penalised, though, as he appeared to impede Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi late on in the initial 20-minute Q1. However, given Buemi was never going to make it into the next session, it was hard to imagine the stewards penalising the McLaren star. Behind another unusual front row, given Sutil's performance, Kimi Raikkonen again gave the home fans something to cheer in his Ferrari.

He will start third, with the 2007 world champion joined on the second row by his fellow Finn, McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen. The Brawns, clearly back in form after their recent struggles, are on the third row, with Rubens Barrichello starting fifth and Jenson Button sixth, the Brazilian outqualifying the Briton for the third successive race. On his debut for Force India, Tonio Liuzzi gave the team another historic moment as he will start seventh, the first time they have managed to get both cars into the top 10. Renault's Fernando Alonso starts eighth, followed by the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, their title hopes fading further. BMW Sauber suffered a wretched Q2 as both Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica retired, with engine trouble.

Heidfeld, who had looked strong in practice and was poised for a high grid slot, was the first to exit early in the 15-minute run. Approaching the opening Rettifilio chicane, Heidfeld slowed and took the short cut. The German then wove through the polystyrene barriers before pulling over on a safe part of the track, with a wisp of smoke emerging from the rear as he did, so giving the game away. Just a few minutes later and Kubica also slowed as he hurtled down the start-finish straight, pulling onto the grass 100 metres short of the Rettifilio. Kubica will start 13th and Heidfeld 15th, with the man to split them being Giancarlo Fisichella on his debut for Ferrari.

The 36-year-old has clearly struggled to adapt to the car in the wake of his move from Force India nine days ago, notably crashing it this morning in final practice. Fisichella will at least have the honour tomorrow of being the first Italian since Ivan Capelli in 1992 to drive a Ferrari at Monza. However, it would appear he has forsaken the prospect of winning the race for taking up such an honour with the Maranello marque given the performances of Sutil and Liuzzi. Toyota's Jarno Trulli will start from 11th, with Romain Grosjean a semirespectable 12th for Renault bearing in mind his car has Kers on board this weekend. Williams' fears regarding this circuit were certainly realised as both Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Rosberg failed to make it out of Q1.

For Rosberg, who had qualified in the top 10 in 11 of the previous 12 races this season, the 24-year-old will start from his lowest position of the year in 18th, one place behind Nakajima. Toyota's Timo Glock was another unable to find the downforce and power required for Monza as he starts 16th, with the Toro Rossos bringing up the rear. Buemi will line up 19th, with Jaime Alguersuari 20th, the young Spaniard's five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change after final practice not counting for anything on this occasion. * PA Sport