Qualifying got under way on Saturday in concert with a beautiful Italian sky that complimented the nuance and majesty that is Monza. Ferrari brought an upgraded engine to the dance and were looking to impress the Tifosi by going for pole position and perhaps most importantly, impress CEO Sergio Marchionne. Sergio was quick to tell the press that Ferrari have failed this year. Imagine that as the grandstands are being filled by Tifosi. Having not had a pole position in 12 years at Monza and 6 years since they had a win, it’s easy to see the frustration.
Esteban Ocon stopped on track at turn one with a mechanical issue ending only his second qualifying attempt in Formula 1.
With seven minutes left, the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg led the time sheets with the latter over .640 behind. The Ferrari’s were nose-to-tail with Vettel leading Raikkonen but both Italian cars were 1.2s off the Mercedes pace but those times were set on the soft compound.
While the Renault’s couldn’t get out of Q1, Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein was able to get in to Q2 with a last lap effort and terrific run on merit. Haas F1 brought a new rear wing and it paid dividends with Romain Grosjean making it to Q2.
Mercedes chose to go out on the soft compounds and Lewis took initial lead but flat-spotted his tires as he set a 1:21.498. While Williams were struggling at Spa, they did seem to have a semblance of life in Q2 running third and fourth in the early portions of the session.
Ferrari ran the super soft compound and initially were .777 off the Mercedes pace—which were on the soft compounds. In the initial phases of Q2, it did look like Red Bull were struggling and finding it difficult to get out of the relegation zone down in 9th and 10th but they were running soft compounds and perhaps this was their desired race strategy tire choice. Unfortunately running in 9th and 10th, it forced their hand and they came out late in the session on super soft compounds.
Felipe Massa may have announced his retirement at Monza but his retirement from Q2 having only qualified 11th in the session was not what he wanted. Equally, Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean couldn’t make best use of his new wing to make it out of Q2 but his teammate, Esteban Gutierrez did and finished seventh to take him into the final qualifying session.
Both Force India cars narrowly made it into Q3 as well on Super soft compounds. Another good sign is that Wehrlein did outperform McLaren’s Jenson Button.
Ferrari went out on track to go for pole and the pressure on the team is immense with Pierro Ferrari and Sergio Marchionne watching the displays intently. Nico Rosberg went out on super soft compounds seeking pole with a 1:21.646 on his initial run but his teammate, Lewis Hamilton set at 1:21.358, 0.288 ahead of Rosberg.
On their first laps, Kimi Raikkonen was nearly three tenths ahead of his teammate, Vettel and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was ahead of his teammate, Sergio Perez, on initial runs. Esteban Gutierrez over-cooked a corner and scrubbed his first timed lap.
In the end, Lewis Hamilton was too much for the rest of the field including his teammate Nico Rosberg who qualified second. The session may not have been a pole position possibility for Ferrari but 3rd and 4th was a good sign that their upgraded engine may be working properly with Vettel leading Raikkonen but trailing Mercedes by eight tenths.
Hamilton joined the legends with five pole positions at Monza with average speed of 159mph.
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m22.389s||1.254s|
|7||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m22.411s||1.276s|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m22.814s||1.679s|
|9||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m22.836s||1.701s|
|15||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m23.496s||–|
|16||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m23.825s||–|