The fastest ever lap in history saw Kimi Raikkonen take pole for the Italian Grand Prix. That didn’t please Sebastian Vettel who was certain he’d taken pole. Saturday proved to be another fascinating day and we can be certain Fernando Alonso isn’t going to be on the Christmas card list of Kevin Magnusson.
A good day for Ferrari began with Sebastian Vettel finishing fastest in the final practice session. He just pipped Lewis Hamilton by 0.081 seconds. Third fastest was Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari only 0.173 seconds behind his team-mate. The other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was fourth but struggling to keep up with Vettel being 0.603 seconds off the pace.
Another 0.276 seconds behind Bottas was the Red Bull of Max Verstappen with a 0.623 seconds gap to Kevin Magnusson in his Haas who just pipped the Force India of Estaban Ocon. It wasn’t a great session for Daniel Ricciardo who could only manage to be eighth fastest and 0.922 seconds behind his team-mate. The top ten was completed by the Sauber of Charles Leclerc and Romain Grosjean in the other Haas.
The Ferrari fans were overjoyed when their team completed a 1-2 in qualifying, but Sebastian Vettel wasn’t quite so delighted with the result as it was Kimi Raikkonen who will start the Italian Grand Prix on pole.
Raikkonen took pole with the last lap of the qualifying session and his lap of 1.19.119 was a record-breaking lap beating the time of 1.19.525 set by Juan Pablo Montoya in his Williams in 2004 as the fastest ever lap.
It was a thrilling qualifying session with Hamilton getting ahead of the Ferrari’s only for Vettel to beat his time and then Raikkonen to deliver that pole-taking lap. Raikkonen was behind his team-mate and the slipstream he’d have received may have been the decisive factor.
It all came as a bit of a shock to Vettel who shouted “Yes!” as he believed it would be him on pole on Sunday. When told moments later that it’d be Raikkonen on pole, Vettel replied “We speak after.” He refused to explain his anger at the press conference held after qualifying but did say that it was Kimi’s turn to go second this week.
Vettel is only 17 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton and the only realistic challenger, so will there be team orders in place tomorrow? Vettel’s opinion is that considering Raikkonen is on pole then he must be allowed to win the race tomorrow and 14 of the last races here have seen the driver on pole go on to win the Grand Prix.
Fourth on the grid will be Valtteri Bottas who was 0.362 seconds behind his Mercedes team-mate. Max Verstappen will start in fifth with Romain Grosjean in sixth. The Renault of Carlos Sainz was 0.105 seconds adrift in seventh just ahead of Estaban Ocon. Completing the top ten on the grid are Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) and surprisingly the Williams of Lance Stroll. He must wish all races were held at Monza as it’s his best position on the grid since last year’s race, though on that occasion his fourth place was achieved in wet conditions.
Both Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenburg have grid penalties this weekend so only took part in Q1. That initial part of qualifying also saw eliminations for Sergio Perez in his Force India.
Fernando Alonso, racing in his final Italian Grand Prix, will start in 13th place but had an eventful qualifying session after tangling with Kevin Magnussen at the first chicane towards the end of Q2. Magnussen later accused Alonso of being “clearly frustrated” and trying “to get a tow from me.” He also commented that he can’t wait for Alonso to retire. Alonso’s view was that Magnussen made a late decision at the start of the lap that “didn’t make too much sense.” No action was taken by the stewards over the incident.
Speaking after qualifying, Lewis Hamilton said: “Ferrari did a solid job. We gave it everything we could, it is very close between us, but they have had the upper hand this weekend. We will give it everything we can tomorrow.
He’ll certainly need to as the chances are that gap at the top of the table is going to be reduced tomorrow. The start will again be vital for Hamilton considering that impressive record of those on pole winning the Italian Grand Prix. I’ll be back next week, till then enjoy your racing.