Behind the sensational Mercedes, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz emerged victorious from a long qualifying battle with Sergio Perez at Racing Point for third place, with the Spaniard sealing his second P3 of the season and McLaren’s third of the season. It is also McLaren’s first start in the top three at Monza since they locked the front row in 2012.
Perez will start fourth for the eighth time in his F1 career, never having started in the top three, with Max Verstappen ranked fifth, meaning Red Bull failed to start on the first two rows of the grid at Monza from the hybrid turbo. era started in 2014.
Red Bull Racing
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly closed the top 10, as his team look to complete their first points at Monza since 2013.
2020 Italian GP qualifying: furious Raikkonen rages at Ocon
Q1 – Vettel takes over as the drivers compete for position
The limits of the track were a topic of discussion all weekend at Monza, and they played a key role from the start with Charles Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen, Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon among those who wasted their time at the turn for straying too far from the white lines.
It put pressure on them to deliver next time around, but it wasn’t a problem for Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas being the only riders using the medium tires – and they switched to P1 and P2.
As the peloton prepared for the final runs there was a fight for position on the straight to Parabolica and then downhill to Turn 1, some of them going wheel to wheel.
There were also moments close, with Kimi Raikkonen almost slamming Esteban Ocon on the back.
This means that the quadruple world champion failed to qualify in Q3 in four successive race weekends.
Romain Grosjean, Antonio Giovinazzi and the Williams duo of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi did not progress.
KO: Grosjean, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi
Italian GP qualifying 2020: frustrated Russell caught in traffic confusion
Q2 – Mercedes stays well away, while Leclerc is thrown
Hamilton beat Bottas on the fastest time after the opening runs, with the Silver Arrows trading for the soft compound for this session – in line with all of their rivals. Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz were their closest challengers, tied and three tenths behind.
After the first few runs, everyone was waiting in their garages waiting for someone else to flash. The Renauts finally made the trip, Ricciardo starting and Ocon. They walked away and did their own thing which kept them from getting towed but at least put them out of the feud.
But Ricciardo took it all out and got it wrong and pulled himself off his knees after a trip through the gravel pit. Elsewhere, Bottas went the fastest, setting a new track record, 0.15 seconds faster than teammate Hamilton. This time Sainz went third faster, swapping places with Perez.
Albon placed 10th, but there was more misery for Ferrari as Leclerc could only go 13th faster, making it the first time Ferrari did not have at least one car in the top 10 at Monza since 1984.
Eliminated: Kvyat, Ocon, Leclerc, Raikkonen, Magnussen
Q3 – Hamilton on the song like the stars of Sainz
Hamilton didn’t mess around in his first run in Q3, pulling a lap that put teammate Bottas in the shadows, putting all the pressure on the Finn in the process.
Perez placed third, ahead of Verstappen, with Sainz fifth as Albon raced again to have his lap time suppressed.
The second time around Hamilton went even faster with Bottas improving too but not enough and he finished second – meaning Mercedes have their first No.1 lockout at Monza since 2016.
Sainz, meanwhile, had a much better lap to climb two places to third place, with Perez and Verstappen failing to respond.
WATCH: Monza qualifying highlights
The key quote
“It wasn’t too bad,” said poleman Lewis Hamilton. “A fantastic performance from the team today, just in terms of timing, when they got us on the right track. It wasn’t the easiest – you saw how close it was between all of us so it really required a clean ride and I think I got it on both so I’m generally very happy with the actual laps I did.
“Valtteri was very, very close – pushing me. I made some big changes before qualifying so I was a little nervous because it was the right thing to do but it worked really well. “
The Italian Grand Prix will start at 3:10 p.m. local time, or 12:10 UTC. Hamilton is in a supreme position to extend his championship lead again, but there could well be a sensational battle for the final podium spot with Sainz, Perez and Verstappen the main contenders.