In a qualifying session completely dominated by Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas managed to pip his team mate Lewis Hamilton, securing the first starting position for Formula One’s only second sprint qualifying.
After the sole practice session, the Italian Grand Prix weekend continued with the qualifying session which took place with the sun slowly starting to set. Free Practice 1 indicated that the Mercedes-powered cars had a significant performance advantage over the cars propelled by Honda, Renault and Ferrari power units. This prediction proved to be right in the qualifying session for tomorrow’s 18-lap Sprint Qualifying that will determine the starting grid for the Italian Grand Prix.
The first qualifying session saw drivers impede each other as everyone was desperate to find a tow. In Formula One, slipstream is usually not beneficial as the turbulence air usually leads to a bigger loss than the advantage gained with the tow effect, but on the legendary Monza circuit it outweighs the negative effect of the turbulence. Based on last year's data, Mercedes estimated that the tow brings seven tenths of a second at Monza compared to a lap completed without any slipstream.
At the end of the first qualifying session, Nicholas Latifi, Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher, Robert Kubica and Nikita Mazepin were knocked out. AlphaTauri’s Japanese racer could have secured a place in Q2, but he had his best lap time deleted for a track limits infringement.
The second part of the qualifying session saw Mercedes dominate the field with Lewis Hamilton becoming the first driver to set a sub-1m20s time, posting a 1m19.936. The Briton was followed by his team mate Bottas while the rest of the field was battling it hard for a place in Q3.
In the end, the two Red Bulls, two McLarens, two Ferraris, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly managed to get their cars into the final part of qualifying.
After showing promising pace in practice, Aston Martin’s duo of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll were eliminated, followed by the Alpine racers, Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon and Williams soon-to-be-Mercedes driver Russell.
Hamilton started Q3 with an impressive lap, helped by the tow of Valtteri Bottas’ car. After being effectively sacrificed to provide the Briton a tow, Bottas continued to give him a help, but he also got a tow on his second run. The nine-time race winner ultimately edged out Hamilton by just 0.096s to claim the first starting position for Satuday’s Sprint Qualifying.
Despite Red Bull’s lack of pace, Verstappen maximized his opportunities to secure P3 for tomorrow, narrowly beating the McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. Last year’s Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly delivered a fine job to end up sixth fastest.
After last year’s disastrous qualifying performance on home turf, Ferrari bounced back with a much stronger form. Carlos Sainz took 7th with his team mate Charles Leclerc, who battled an engine issue throughout the entire qualifying, finished in P8.
Red Bull’s Mexican driver Perez could only take ninth ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who made it into Q3 for the second week running.
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:21.035||1:20.229||1:19.966||19|
|4||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:20.916||1:20.059||1:19.989||21|
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:21.292||1:20.435||1:19.995||17|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||1:21.440||1:20.556||1:20.260||16|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:21.308||1:20.882||1:20.611||20|
|10||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:21.197||1:20.726||1:20.808||16|
|11||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:21.394||1:20.913||14|
|12||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:21.415||1:21.020||13|
|13||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:21.487||1:21.069||11|
|14||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:21.500||1:21.103||12|
|15||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:21.890||1:21.392||16|
|16||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:21.925||10|
|17||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||1:21.973||9|
|18||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:22.248||8|
|19||88||Robert Kubica||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:22.530||7|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:22.716||9|