Lewis Hamilton is officially Formula 1’s all-time greatest one-lap specialist after breaking Michael Schumacher’s record of pole positions in an extraordinary rain-affected qualifying session at the Italian Grand Prix.

That the Briton achieved the feat under such incredible circumstances made the milestone perhaps all the more significant.

Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session lasted almost four hours thanks to heavy rain over the circuit that made track conditions treacherous. The opening stanza of qualifying was suspended after just a few minutes when Romain Grosjean aquaplaned his Haas Ferrari into the barriers on the approach to the Variante della Roggia chicane, fortunately without major damage to the Frenchman’s car or injury to the frustrated driver.

The red flags were thrown to allow for the recovery of his car and all track action was suspended for over two-and-a-half hours until the FIA Race Director team was satisfied that conditions had improved sufficiently.

As frustrating as the delays were for teams, drivers and fans alike, when the action eventually resumed everyone was served up an extraordinary battle for qualifying honours. In the end Hamilton triumphed, beating off a stunning attack from the Red Bull Racing duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

Hamilton’s final lap to pole rivaled his faultless lap a week before at Spa-Francorchamps that drew him level with Schumacher’s tally of 68 poles. Proving his mastery of the wet, the Mercedes driver delivered a masterclass in being able to pick the ideal line through the spray.

Behind him, the next generation of potential World Champions strutted their stuff and battled to be his heir apparent.

With their well-documented horsepower deficit nullified by the wet conditions, the Red Bull Racing pair exploited the damp track to the fullest and looked set to claim a stunning 1-2 in Q3 before Hamilton pulled out all stops on his last-gasp lap. They finished second- and third-fastest to mark the team’s best qualifying performance of the season, however both drivers’ celebrations were muted given they will take major grid penalties thanks to a tactical decision to run new power unit elements during the weekend that could see them as genuine race-winning challengers in Singapore in a fortnight’s time.

They weren’t the only youngsters to brave it out in the damp. The occasionally maligned Lance Stroll surprised in his first proper wet-weather outing and qualified a superb fourth-fastest in his Williams – which translates to a front-row start once the Red Bulls are demoted – while Esteban Ocon put his Force India in to a similarly career-high fifth-quickest.

The young Frenchman will start ahead of Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas – left to rue an error on his final flying lap – and the two Ferraris of Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel, who couldn’t extract enough tyre temperature at the team’s home race.

Vettel, who leads Hamilton by seven points in the Drivers’ Championship, has been unable to run at his rival’s pace all weekend and will struggle to emerge from the European leg of the season still in the lead of the standings. Should he finish second on Sunday the pair will be tied on points, and with dry weather forecast for the 53-lap race he has every possibility of making up lost ground when the true prizes are handed out.

Sunday’s 53-lap Italian Grand Prix will start at 14:00 local time (GMT +2).


Q3 Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap Tyre
1. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:35.554 Pirelli Wet
2. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:36.702 + 0.827 Pirelli Wet
3. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:36.841 + 1.310 Pirelli Wet
4. Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:37.032 + 2.731 Pirelli Wet
5. Esteban Ocon fr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:37.719 + 2.816 Pirelli Wet
6. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:37.833 + 0.541 Pirelli Wet
7. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:37.987 + 0.717 Pirelli Wet
8. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:38.064 + 0.242 Pirelli Wet
9. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:38.251 + 1.639 Pirelli Wet
10. Stoffel Vandoorne ca McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:39.157 + 1.639 Pirelli Wet
Q2 Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap** Tyre
11. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:37.582 + 2.922 Pirelli Intermediate
12. Nico Hülkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:38.059 + 3.399 Pirelli Intermediate
13. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:38.202 + 3.542 Pirelli Intermediate
14. Daniil Kvyat ru Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:38.245 + 3.585 Pirelli Intermediate
15. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:38.526 + 3.866 Pirelli Intermediate
Q1 Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap* Tyre
16. Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:40.489 + 4.773 Pirelli Intermediate
17. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:40.646 + 4.930 Pirelli Wet
18. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:41.732 + 6.016 Pirelli Wet
19. Pascal Wehrlein de Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:41.875 + 6.159 Pirelli Wet
Outside 107% Team / Entry Time Gap* Tyre
DNQ. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:43.355 + 7.639 Pirelli Wet

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:35.716 posted by Valtteri Bottas
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:34.660 posted by Lewis Hamilton

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Max Verstappen (2nd) will serve a 20-place grid penalty for the use of new power unit components above his allocated limit
  • Daniel Ricciardo (3rd) will serve a 20-place grid penalty for the use of new power unit components above his allocated limit and a further 5-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change
  • Nico Hülkenberg (12th) will serve a 10-place grid penalty for the use of new power unit components above his allocated limit
  • Fernando Alonso (13th) will serve a 35-place grid penalty for the use of new power unit components above his allocated limit
  • Carlos Sainz Jr (15th) will serve a 10-place grid penalty for the use of new power unit components above his allocated limit
  • Jolyon Palmer (17th) will serve a 15-place grid penalty for the use of new power unit components above his allocated limit

Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

The following two tabs change content below.

Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

Latest posts by Richard Bailey (see all)

Share