Qualifying at Monza for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix delivered a number of standout performances and a couple of shockers. Our own Chandni Patel assesses the field and picks her winners and losers from Saturday afternoon…
Lewis Hamilton took the ultimate prize in Monza with a storming pole lap of 1:23.397, with his teammate Nico Rosberg only qualifying fourth fastest. It was a surprise as a front-row lockout is the target for the team at each race, such is with their competitive advantage over their rivals , However, Rosberg’s cause was not helped by having to revert to his Belgian Grand Prix engine, an older-specification unit compared to Hamilton’s after his had problems in FP3.
Ferrari had a fantastic qualifying session at their home track and with Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne in the paddock, the performance of both cars certainly gave him something to be happy about. Kimi Räikkönen outqualified Sebastian Vettel to claim P2 from the German, who took third place on the grid for tomorrow’s 53-lap race.
Having fallen short of making the Q3 cut by a few hundredths of a second in both Hungary and Belgium, Nico Hülkenberg made the cut this time around and was seventh-fastest after his first timed run in the final session. However, the German ran out of power and stopped just over the white line in the pit entry. Luckily, the mechanics were able to quickly wheel him back to the garage – amid many cheers from some fans in the opposite grandstand – but there wasn’t enough time left to get back out on track. Failing to be out for another run saw him bundled down to ninth in the final reckoning, two spots behind teammate Sergio Pérez.
McLaren-Honda’s Jenson Button and Fernando were losers of qualifying yet again, sorely lacking in straight line speed and once again copping a wealth of penalties for more engine changes. In the last race at Spa-Francorchamps, Jenson Button called the situation ’embarrassing’ and will no doubt be having similar sentiments a fortnight later. McLaren are hoping to have a better race tomorrow, although they will be starting from the back row of the grid.
Marcus Ericsson showed great pace in the Sauber, getting into Q3 for the first time since the Chinese Grand Prix to equal his career-best qualifying result with the tenth-fastest time. The Swede, however, was called to the FIA Stewards after the session amid accusations that he baulked Nico Hülkenberg during Q1 and was subsequently docked three grid places for completely failing to use his mirrors.
For the first time in his Formula 1 career Max Verstappen set no time in Q1 after his Toro Rosso mechanics were held up fixing problems on the Dutch youngster’s car. The team sent him out with less than a minute of the session to go, however, the car’s engine cover hadn’t been properly fastened and parted company with the car on his out-lap. The team will almost certainly earn a big fine from the FIA Stewards for the error.
Pastor Maldonado missed out on getting a berth Q3 – and was the only Mercedes-powered runner who failed to do so – qualifying eleventh-fastest as his teammate Romain Grosjean sailed into the top ten. There is major pressure on the Venezuelan to perform amid rumours that he will lose his seat should the Lotus team be bought out by Renault.
Images via XPB Images