Hamilton eases to Italian GP pole at Monza

untitled4Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will start the Formula 1 Gran Premio d’Italia 2015 from pole position after beating Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen by just over two-tenths of a second in qualifying at Monza on Saturday. It was Hamilton’s seventh consecutive pole, his fourth at Monza and his 11th of the season.

Raikkonen edged Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel by just five-hundredths of a second, with the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg – handicapped by having to revert to an old-spec engine after a problem in FP3 – fourth.

The Williams of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will form the third row, followed by the Force India of Sergio Perez and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean. Nico Hulkenberg was hit by technical woes in the second Force India and finished ninth, with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson – under investigation for allegedly blocking Hulkenberg in Q1 – completing the top ten.

Q1 began with Hamilton, on the medium tyres, easily heading team mate Rosberg by 0.358s, with 1m 24.251s to the German’s 1m 24.602s. Elsewhere there was minor drama at the end of the segment as Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso parted company with its engine cover just moments after leaving the pits for his first lap of the session. The Dutchman’s mechanics, battling technical problems on the STR10, had already lost their race against time to get Verstappen out for a flying lap, and he was the only driver not to get a time on the board – meaning he failed to reach Q2 for the first time in his brief F1 career.

By then, Jenson Button had pipped McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso with 1m 26.058s to 1m 26.154s, but both failed to make the Q2 cut, as Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat squeaked through in 15th on 1m 25.742s. Team mate Ricciardo also only narrowly made it out of Q1, his crew only completing at the last minute a post-FP3 engine change after his new unit from Friday failed.

The Marussias of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were closely matched on 1m 27.731s and 1m 27.912s, and were 18th and 19th.

Having topped all three practice sessions and Q1, Hamilton was again quickest in Q2, lapping in a superb 1m 23.383s. Everyone used softs, but there was huge excitement from the Tifosi when Vettel went second on 1m 23.757s and then Raikkonen beat that with 1m 23.577s. Rosberg was down in fourth on 1m 23.864s.

Hulkenberg was 10th on 1m 24.510s, which left Pastor Maldonado as the first to be knocked out, with 1m 24.525s for Lotus. Felipe Nasr also failed to make the cut for Sauber with 1m 24.898s, leaving Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and Kvyat to do token laps of 1m 25.618s and 1m 25.796s apiece. Ricciardo chose not to run, completing a nightmare session for the Red Bull branded cars.

Q3 was thus set to be a Mercedes v Ferrari battle.

Hamilton began by lapping in 1m 23.397s, but Vettel jumped to P2 with 1m 23.705s and with Raikkonen third on 1m 23.712s Rosberg found himself also behind Massa’s Williams. The Brazilian lapped in 1m 23.940s to the German’s 1m 23.942s.

Despite setting new fastest times in the second and third sectors on his second run, Hamilton could not quite recover from a slightly slower first one, but his 1m 23.397s was good enough for pole. Vettel improved to 1m 23.685s, but was beaten to second when Raikkonen did 1m 23.631s. That left Rosberg fourth as he improved to 1m 23.703s, and Massa failed to go faster.

Bottas was sixth in the other Williams on 1m 24.127s, from Perez on 1m 24.626s in his sole run, then Grosjean was eighth with 1m 25.054s. Hulkenberg looked good initially, but stopped at the pit lane entry after recording 1m 25.317s as he reported a loss of power in the second VJM08. His time left him ninth, ahead of Ericsson on 1m 26.214s.

With multiple engine and gearbox penalties to be applied – Alonso, Button, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Verstappen and Sainz will all be affected – the FIA is expected to release full details of the provisional grid later on Saturday afternoon.

Italian Grand Prix Qualifying Results
Pos. Car # Driver Q1 Q2 Q3 Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamiton 1:24.251 1:23.383 1:23.397 Leader 15
2 7 Kimi Raikkonen 1:24.662 1:23.757 1:23.631 -0.234 17
3 5 Sebastian Vettel 1:24.989 1:23.577 1:23.685 -0.054 20
4 6 Nico Roseberg 1:24.609 1:23.864 1:23.703 -0.018 19
5 19 Felipe Massa 1:25.184 1:23.983 1:23.940 -0.237 19
6 77 Valtteri Bottas 1:24.979 1:24.313 1:24.127 -0.187 17
7 11 Sergio Perez 1:24.801 1:24.379 1:24.626 -0.499 19
8 8 Romain Grojean 1:25.144 1:24.448 1:25.054 -0.428 19
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg 1:24.937 1:24.510 1:25.317 -0.263 18
10 9 Marcus Ericsson 1:25.122 1:24.457 1:26.214 -0.897 20
11 13 Pastor Maldonado 1:25.429 1:24.525 Eliminated 1.689 16
12 12 Felipe Nasr 1:25.121 1:24.898 Eliminated -0.373 15
13 55 Carlos Sainz Jr 1:25.410 1:25.618 Eliminated -0.720 10
14 26 Daniil Kvyat 1:25.742 1:25.796 Eliminated -0.178 11
15 3 Daniel Ricciardo 1:25.633 0:00.000 Eliminated 25.796 3
16 22 Jenson Button 1:26.058 Eliminated -26.058 7
17 14 Fernando Alonso 1:26.154 Eliminated -0.096 7
18 28 Will Stevens 1:27.731 Eliminated -1.577 9
19 98 Roberto Merhi 1:27.912 Eliminated -0.181 9
20 33 Max Verstappen 0:00.000 Eliminated 27.912 1


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