Hamilton dominates to take Monza pole

Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the pole position in the qualifying session at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza on Sept 3.
Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the pole position in the qualifying session at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza on Sept 3.PHOTO: AFP

Briton joins Fangio, Senna as the only drivers to lead the Italian GP grid on five occasions

MONZA • Lewis Hamilton drew level with legendary racing drivers Juan Manuel Fangio and Ayrton Senna in the record books yesterday when he flew to pole ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg for today's Italian Grand Prix.

The championship leader and defending three-time world champion clocked a best lap time of 1min 21.135sec to outpace the German by nearly half a second.

Both Mercedes drivers finished comfortably ahead of the Ferraris of four-time former champion Sebastian Vettel and 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen.

"I was right in the sweet spot today and I was able to get an exceptional lap time out of it," said Hamilton. "What this team has achieved is phenomenal."

It was Hamilton's third successive pole at the Italian event and his fifth in all at Monza, a feat that equalled those of Argentinian Fangio and Brazilian Senna. It was also the 56th pole of Hamilton's career.

  • STARTING GRID

  • 1st row: Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes, Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes

    2nd row: Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari

    3rd row: Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams, Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull

    4th row: Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull, Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India

    5th row: Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India, Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Haas

    6thb row: Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams, Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren

    7th row: Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Manor, Jenson Button (Gbr), McLaren

    8th row: Carlos Sainz Jr (Esp) Toro Rosso, Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Toro Rosso

    9th row: Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas, Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber

    10th row: Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber, Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault

    11th row: Kevin Magnussen (Den) Renault, Esteban Ocon (Fra) Manor.

Senna was the last man to achieve a hat-trick of Italy poles.

"To be up there with Senna and Fangio, I never thought I'd be mentioned in the same breath as them in a million years. I feel incredibly proud and honoured," said Hamilton.

He also dismissed worries about damage to his tyres, despite voicing his concerns over the team radio.

"I didn't really damage the tyres, I just had a small lock-up. The flat spot is minimal, you can't really feel it, so I don't think it will be a problem."

Hamilton and Rosberg's front-row lockout was Mercedes' 41st and enabled them to equal the record of dominance set by Red Bull's Vettel and Mark Webber in their heyday.

Hamilton will be bidding to register a hat-trick of Italian wins today with his 50th career victory, to extend his nine-point lead in the title race ahead of Rosberg.

His pole made a pleasant change from last weekend when Hamilton started last in Belgium after penalties, charging through the pack at Spa-Francorchamps to claim third.

Finn Valtteri Bottas was fifth for Williams ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo and his Red Bull team-mate, Dutch teenager Max Verstappen.

Mexican Sergio Perez was eighth, ahead of his Force India team-mate German Nico Hulkenberg with Mexican Esteban Gutierrez taking 10th for Haas.

Rosberg accepted that he had been well beaten and faces a tough task against Hamilton today.

"The best explanation is he did some good laps and that's it... (I was) just not quick enough," the German said.

Their closest rival, Vettel, was eight-tenths from Hamilton's pole lap.

"I went just on the limit on the last corner, I was a bit late going on the throttle," Vettel said.

"I brought it back in sector two and three and obviously I'm very happy to lock out the second row as a team.

"It looks like those guys (Mercedes) are in a world of their own today."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 04, 2016, with the headline 'Hamilton dominates to take Monza pole'. Print Edition | Subscribe