Carlos Sainz lived up to his Italian Grand Prix practice promise to put Ferrari on pole at Monza.
Sainz and team-mate Charles Leclerc were initially due to visit the stewards post-session to discuss a potential breach of the race director’s instructions regarding maximum laptimes in Q1.
That instruction is intended to prevent drivers from cruising around too slowly seeking slipstreams or clear track space, a relentless problem in Monza qualifying sessions in recent years.
But moments after Sainz clinched pole, a message came through from race control saying that no further action would be taken, removing the threat to Ferrari’s top-three starts.
Though Sainz had been quickest in both practice two and three, until the last seconds of qualifying it looked like Max Verstappen may well deny him.
Verstappen was fastest in both Q1 and Q2, and though he was third behind a Ferrari 1-2 after the first Q3 runs, he’d compromised his lap with a scruffy exit from the second chicane.
Verstappen then followed Leclerc in deposing Sainz from provisional pole as they completed their last runs.
But Sainz was still finding time too, and he produced a 1m20.294s to pip Verstappen by 0.013s and Leclerc by 0.067s.
George Russell put the lead Mercedes fourth, four places ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton and just in front of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez, who needed a pre-qualifying Honda engine change after an oil leak in final practice.
Alex Albon starred with second in Q1 and fifth in Q2, and still kept Williams in the top six with sixth in the final segment.
His team-mate Logan Sargeant hinted at heroics too with sixth in Q1 before a poor Q2 left him 15th.
The McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris sandwich Hamilton in seventh and ninth, with Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin a distant 10th.
Daniel Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri stand-in Liam Lawson was the star performer among those who didn’t reach the pole shootout. He starts his second grand prix 12th, sharing row six with team-mate Yuki Tsunoda after lapping a tenth and a half slower.
Dutch GP podium finisher Alpine had an atrocious session. Esteban Ocon was up against it after running into the gravel and damaging his floor in Q1, yet Pierre Gasly was only 0.003s faster in a healthy car. They’re down in 17th and 18th on the provisional grid.
Lance Stroll fared worse still, his complete lack of Friday running – having given his car to reserve driver Felipe Drugovich in practice one then had an immediate fuel system problem in practice two – perhaps telling as he ended Q1 slowest.
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m21.573s||1m20.937s||1m20.307s|
|5||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||1m21.911s||1m21.24s||1m20.688s|
|10||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m22.043s||1m21.543s||1m21.417s|
|11||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||1m21.852s||1m21.594s|
|12||Liam Lawson||AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT||1m22.112s||1m21.758s|
|14||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m22.249s||1m21.94s|
|16||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m22.39s|
|20||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m22.86s|