Italian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton 2/7 to secure victory at Monza

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Lewis Hamilton will start the Italian Grand Prix from pole position following his wet-weather masterclass in one of the longest qualifying sessions in Formula One history.

Qualifying: Top three

1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1min 35.554secs
2 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:36.702
3 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1:36

Qualifying: Report

Lewis Hamilton has admitted it may take some time for his record-breaking lap to sink in after he surpassed Michael Schumacher’s haul of poles following a wet-weather masterclass in Monza.

Hamilton’s excellence in Saturday’s rain-hit and fascinating qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix – one which will go down among the longest in Formula One history – sees him now stand alone as the all-time one-lap specialist with his 69th career pole position.

The Englishman, 32, held his nerve in the shoot-out for top spot to clock a lap which was an extraordinary 1.1 seconds faster than any of his rivals in treacherous conditions at the so-called Temple of Speed.

Max Verstappen, another to revel in the rain, and Daniel Ricciardo finished behind Hamilton, but both will be bumped towards the back of the pack following grid penalties after engine changes on their Red Bull cars.

Hamilton will instead be joined on the front row by Canadian teenager Lance Stroll, with Force India’s Esteban Ocon lining up in third.

Sebastian Vettel, who holds a seven-point championship lead over Hamilton, was never in the reckoning and finished a lowly eighth in the order, an eye-watering 2.5secs adrift of his rival.

He will take some comfort from the Red Bull penalties as he moves up to sixth on the grid, but it was a day to forget for his Ferrari team in front of an expectant Tifosi.

Indeed, Vettel’s demise made Hamilton’s triumph all the sweeter. The Briton will lead the championship for the first time this year if he wins on Sunday.

“It is very hard to find the words to explain how I feel, ” said Hamilton, who punched the air as he crossed the line. “I am still trying to figure it all out.

“The weather has been incredibly tricky for us all. To come here to this beautiful country and face typically English weather was a massive challenge.

“It was very difficult to see out there, difficult to see the lines and, as always in the rain, very easy to make mistakes. But I gave it everything with that last lap and it probably won’t sink in for a long time.”

Hamilton is unlikely to forget his record pole in a hurry after a frenetic climax to a qualifying session which lasted more than three-and-a-half hours.

Despite persistent rain, qualifying started on schedule, but it was suspended after only five minutes when Romain Grosjean lost control of his car at speeds approaching 190mph.

Fans, who sought cover from the inclement conditions, jeered the subsequent delays and the lack of action will have left the sport’s new American owners Liberty Media red-faced.

Meanwhile, Hamilton spent the rain break engaging with his supporters on social media before playing computer games from the comfort of his Mercedes team’s hospitality suite. Finally, after a delay of two hours and 36 minutes, the circuit was deemed safe and it was Hamilton who triumphed.

“After playing the PlayStation I was nervous, but still in the zone, and I was grateful for when we got back out,” Hamilton added.

“Some people say it is not about the journey or where you begin, but about the finish. I feel the beginning and the middle is more important, and not necessarily where you are going. I have learnt so much over the years. It was an epic day, and I am truly blessed.”
Final Positions after Qualifying:

1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1min 35.554secs
2 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:36.702
3 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1:36.841
4 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams 1:37.032
5 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India 1:37.719
6 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1:37.833
7 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:37.987
8 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:38.064
9 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams 1:38.251
10 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 1:39.157
11 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 1:37.582
12 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:38.059
13 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 1:38.202
14 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:38.245
15 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:38.526
16 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:40.489
17 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault 1:40.646
18 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 1:41.732
19 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Sauber-Ferrari 1:41.875
20 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 1:43.355

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