Valtteri Bottas claimed pole position for the Italian Grand Prix Sprint after snatching top spot in Friday’s qualifying from his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Finn Bottas clocked one minute, 19.555 seconds on his last qualifying lap at Monza to finish just 0.096 sec ahead of seven-time world champion Hamilton, who had been fastest in the first two qualifying sessions and practice and had been leading Q3 until he was pipped in the final moments.
That means 32-year-old Bottas will lead the field in Saturday’s 100km Sprint, which will decide the grid for the GP on Sunday and give championship points to the top three.
First place in the Sprint will take three points, second place two and third place one.
However Bottas will start at the back of the grid on Sunday regardless of how he fares in the Sprint as he was penalised for taking on power unit components.
“That qualifying lap was nice. It feels so good when you get a nice lap,” said Bottas, who will join Alfa Romeo next season.
“I feel good, I feel relaxed and everything is sorted for the future.”
Red Bull’s championship leader Max Verstappen took third, 0.411sec off Bottas, as he tries to defend his tiny three-point lead from Hamilton, who on Sunday will again attempt to bring up a century of GP victories.
Hamilton has been stuck on 99 wins since taking the British GP at Silverstone in mid-July, which was when the Sprint qualifying format was used for the first time.
Dutchman Verstappen was behind the Mercedes pair all day as he struggled to keep up with their pace, but seemed encouraged by his showing in Friday’s qualifying.
“For us this track is always going to be difficult... We recovered quite well throughout the qualifying,” said Verstappen.
“I’m so happy to be third here... I think we can score a good amount of points.”
McLaren pair Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo performed well and finished close behind Verstappen, fourth and fifth respectively.
Charles Leclerc asked the Ferrari fans at Monza to create the same fervour as that which accompanied Verstappen’s win at the Dutch GP last week.
And the Monegasque finished eighth, 0.955sec off Bottas and a place behind his teammate Carlos Sainz.
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