Lewis Hamilton overcame a tough Saturday to clinch his 94th F1 pole position ahead of Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas as the grid for the 2020 Italian Grand Prix was determined.
Traffic however was a huge issue throughout final practice and qualifying as drivers scrapped for track position and an important slipstream tow but Hamilton eventually clinched pole ahead of Bottas on a day dominated by Mercedes.
Now here is a full roundup of FP3 and Qualifying action.
A quiet start saw six drivers including the Alfa Romeo pair of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen head out for installation laps before returning to the pits for a ten minute lull.
Carlos Sainz eventually was the first driver to set a lap time of 1m 21.875 on mediums before going 0.373 seconds quicker on his next flier, although Bottas went quickest four minutes later on the soft tyres only to be immediately displaced by Lewis Hamilton with a 1m 20.658 also on the soft compound.
Lando Norris meanwhile found himself impeded on his first effort by Charles Leclerc going through the Parabolica before going 11th quickest on his next lap with a 1m 21.390 on mediums.
Come the 30 minute mark, Bottas improved to a 1m 20.622 to go quickest from Hamilton with Esteban Ocon, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez rounding out the top five in the opening half of FP3.
Just minutes later, Alex Albon improved to fourth whilst Verstappen found time on his second medium tyre effort to go top with a 1m 20.456 ahead of the soft Qualifying simulations.
Mercedes sent their drivers out early with Bottas improving to a session topping 1m 20.089 whilst Hamilton backed out of his first attempt, but his second effort could only put him 0.350s down on his Finnish teammate as Norris and Daniel Ricciardo slotted in between the Mercedes duo.
Ricciardo however soon suffered a fuel pump issue which saw him pull over on the exit of Variante Della Roggia to cause a five minute red flag and once the session resumed, very few found improvement on last gasp attempts as Sainz climbed to second whilst Sergio Perez went tenth quickest.
Bottas therefore topped FP3 ahead of Sainz, Norris, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Verstappen, Albon, Ocon, Lance Stroll and Perez, as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished 11th, whilst Sebastian Vettel was only 15th quickest.
Kevin Magnussen led a group of drivers out onto the circuit but Vettel set the initial pace as Magnussen and Leclerc had their laps deleted for exceeding track limits, shortly before Mercedes seized the fastest times with Hamilton leading Bottas.
Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly also saw times deleted as they plus Magnussen and Leclerc compromised the four elimination spots behind Nicholas Latifi once everyone else had completed their first runs.
Traffic however proved problematic in the closing minutes of Q1 as Ocon blocked Kimi Raikkonen, whilst several drivers including George Russell encountered difficulties with very few finding improvement as Vettel opted out of his final lap and was eliminated in 17th behind Romain Grosjean but ahead of Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi.
Hamilton topped the session with 1m 19.514 which was 0.272s quicker than Bottas’ best Q1 effort.
Mercedes opted to run both Hamilton and Bottas on softs rather than expected medium compound with Hamilton breaking the lap record on his initial effort with a 1m 19.092, as Perez went third fastest.
Albon had his initial lap time deleted for exceeding track limits but eventually recovered to reach Q3 as the mid-session bottom five of Daniil Kvyat, Ocon, Leclerc, Raikkonen and Magnussen were eventually eliminated after failing to improve on their final runs.
Bottas meanwhile topped the session after dipping below the 79s mark with a 1m 18.952 on his final effort.
Mercedes once again sent their duo out first with Hamilton once again fastest on first effort with 1m 19.068 which was 0.053s quicker than Bottas, with Perez a further 0.652s slower in third, ahead of Verstappen and Sainz after Albon’s time again was deleted for track limits.
Bottas however was first out for final runs after Mercedes decided to unleash their cars with just over five minutes left to avoid a repeat of last year’s Q3 fiasco in which everyone bar Sainz missed the flag in attempting to find a tow off each other.
Bottas found improvement to set a 1m 18.956 which was 0.004s slower than his best Q2 time and eventually pipped by Hamilton with a lap record of 1m 18.887 to take pole as Sainz improved to third ahead of Perez and Verstappen.
Norris had to settle for sixth ahead of Ricciardo, Stroll, Albon and Gasly who round out the top ten on tomorrow’s grid.
Speaking post session on his 94th pole position, Hamilton said; “It’s not too bad. Fantastic performance from the team.
“Not the easiest, you’ve seen how close it was between us. It needed a clean lap and I got both.”
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1m 20.089|
|2||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+ 0.229|
|3||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 0.323|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+ 0.330|
|5||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.350|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.367|
|7||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+ 0.474|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Renault||+ 0.604|
|9||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+ 0.715|
|10||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+ 0.808|
|11||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.828|
|12||Pierre Gasly||Alpha Tauri||+ 0.847|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Alpha Tauri||+ 0.864|
|14||Romain Grosjean||Haas||+ 1.116|
|15||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+ 1.174|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 1.347|
|17||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.370|
|18||George Russell||Williams||+ 1.588|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 1.675|
|20||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 2.001|
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1m 18.887|
|2||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 0.069|
|3||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+ 0.808|
|4||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+ 0.833|
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.908|
|6||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 0.933|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+ 0.977|
|8||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+ 1.162|
|9||Alex Albon||Red Bull||+ 1.203|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Alpha Tauri||+ 1.290|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Alpha Tauri||1m 20.169|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Renault||+ 0.065|
|13||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.104|
|14||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.757|
|15||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+ 1.404|
|16||Romain Grosjean||Haas||1m 21.139|
|17||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+ 0.012|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.067|
|19||George Russell||Williams||+ 0.448|
|20||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 0.578|