Leclerc edges out Mercedes drivers to take Italian pole

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Italy, Autodromo Nazionale di Monzait

Charles Leclerc has pleased the local Italian fans by taking pole position at Ferrari's home event. Lewis Hamilton ended up second, and Valtteri Bottas third, both less than 0.050s behind.

The first part of qualifying saw Ferrari run medium tyres, whereas everybody else immediately opted for the softs. These soft runners usually didn't do more than two flying laps, but Ferrari's drivers did several more.

Lerclerc seemed to be very much at ease on the mediums as he went fastest on his second timed lap. Renault surprised early on to battle it out with Mercedes for the next 4 spots while Vettel stranded at 0.248s in 6th.

Both Ferrari drivers were again on a flying lap when Perez's Racing Point had enough, meaning the Mexican parked alongside the track. The session was stopped for a few minutes to get the car out of the way.

When the track was clear, Verstappen was the first of a big bunch to go out, having been unable to set a time before the interruption. It proved useless though, as the Dutchman reported "no power", and soon returned to the pits. It was the end of qualifying for him, though it didn't matter all that much as he'll take grid penalties and was destined to start from the back anyway.

Q2 saw Leclerc go fastest once again, this time on new soft tyres. Hamilton followed in second, ahead of Vettel. As the Renaults again performed admirably, it was Magnussen, along with the Alfas and Toro Rossos that seemed the likely candidates to not make it into the top 10.

But with time differences continuing to be very small, all drivers went out again in the last three minutes of Q2.

Hamilton made use of that attempt to get a draft from Bottas and go fastest, improving Leclerc's best by 0.089s. Stroll also made sure to progress into Q3, along with Raikkonen, who had ruined his earlier flying lap by going on the kerbs and through the gravel at Lesmo.

In the final shootout, Vettel took the lead, with all others relatively close behind, all about 2 seconds from one another. It was Leclerc who emerged fastest, just topping Hamilton and Vettel. Ricciardo and Hulkenberg positioned in 4th and 5th, with Sainz 6th.

The others were unable to set a time, as the session got red-flagged because Raikkonen crashed off at Parabolica. The Finn appeared slightly too quick in the slowest part of the corner, and therefore lost the rear end and slid backwards into the tyre wall. Raikkonen escaped frustrated but unharmed.

For Bottas, the stoppage was extremely unfortunate, as it came just before he crossed the finish line. A few minutes later, his time was instated anyway, moving him up into third, a hundredth slower than Hamilton.

After the interruption, there was 6 minutes and 35 seconds left. But as that left ample time to complete another lap, the first few minutes after the track became green again were silent anyway.

The end of the session then turned out to be a funny bit of news, as in a world where seconds matter, the slow out-lap cost everybody but Leclerc and Sainz a shot at a second flying lap. Just like in Spa one week ago, everybody was looking to get a draft behind someone else, and this time, it cost them all dearly.

This meant that Leclerc, who was 5s ahead of anybody else to start his flyer, could just ease off, as he had the pole in hand anyway.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
116Charles LeclercFerrari1:20.1261:19.5531:19.30718
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:20.2721:19.4641:19.34616
377Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:20.1561:20.0181:19.35417
45Sebastian VettelFerrari1:20.3781:19.7151:19.45717
53Daniel RicciardoRenault1:20.3741:19.8331:19.83913
627Nico HulkenbergRenault1:20.1551:20.2751:20.04914
755Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault1:20.4131:20.2021:20.45520
823Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing Honda1:20.3821:20.021-15
918Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:20.6431:20.498-19
107Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:20.6341:20.515-16
1199Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:20.6571:20.517-15
1220Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:20.6161:20.615-14
1326Daniil KvyatScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:20.7231:20.630-17
144Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault1:20.6461:21.068-15
1510Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:20.5081:21.125-15
168Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:20.784--8
1711Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:21.291--6
1863George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:21.800--8
1988Robert KubicaWilliams Mercedes1:22.356--9
RT33Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda---3

Note - Verstappen, Norris and Gasly required to start from back of grid due to multiple power unit element changes.