Italian Grand Prix Qualifying report: Lewis Hamilton on pole
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, the reigning champion at the Autodromo Internazionale Monza, took pole position ahead of tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix. Team Mercedes now have their 23rd successive pole, which is the 2nd highest of any team in F1. The all-time record is 24, by McLaren in 1992. Hamilton won last year’s Grand Prix from pole, which bodes well for the Briton and his team, who are also using an upgraded engine.
Ferrari had significant success today in front of their home crowd, with a refreshed Kimi Raikkonen outqualifying his teammate, 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel to start tomorrow’s race in P2. Vettel will start in third, which will leave home fans or tifosi happy.
Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg was due to take on grid penalties and use the same new spec engine the Briton was using, but due to issues reverted to using the older one instead. He finished 4th in qualifying behind Vettel.
Williams performed strongly as expected, with Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, who have both had their contracts renewed at the British team, finishing in P5 and P6 respectively. The team are also on Mercedes power units, and Massa finished last year’s race on the podium in 3rd, with Bottas behind him in 4th.
Several teams had engine and power problems today, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg among them. “No power,” he said on team radio. He was only able to finish one lap in Q3 before his car was wheeled back into the garage following the loss of power. Teammate Sergio Perez made up for this somewhat, however, finishing in 7th. Despite the power unit glitch, however, Hulkenberg still finished P9, which means both Force Indias begin tomorrow’s race inside the top 10.
Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo did not race in Q3 following power unit troubles of his own. The driver had taken 25 grid penalties as he had engine and power unit components replaced, but team boss Christian Horner described the new engine as ‘terminal.’
The majority of drivers were on soft tyres for a significant portion of qualifying, only bringing the mediums out early in first qualifying.
Neither of the two McLaren and Marussia cars made it out of first qualifying, with Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso due to take on grid penalties irrespective of their position. They will begin the race from the back of the pack.
In the press conference following the session, Raikkonen said he was “surprised but happy.” Both drivers were pleased at a strong qualifying performance at their home race, with Raikkonen describing it as a "good result not just for ourselves, but for our fans and Ferrari people behind us.” Vettel echoed the sentiment, saying "to see the tifosi waving and jumping up and down is incredible. It's like nothing I've experienced before.”
The German last won at Monza in 2013 with Red Bull, which was his 3rd win at the circuit.
Ahead of the qualifying session, Mercedes had used all of their tokens for upgrades, and in a statement said this was to improve the reliability of the car. The upgrades seem to have been effective, saying “I'm very happy. The guys have done a great job with the car and we have improved reliability really well.”
Lewis Hamilton has just taken the 49th pole position of his career and is now 3rd on the list of most pole positions of all time behind the 68 of Michael Schumacher and 65 of Ayrton Senna.
Full standings following qualifying: