Formula One: Bottas wins sprint but Verstappen on pole at Monza

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas drives ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen during the sprint session ahead of the Italian grand prix.
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas drives ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen during the sprint session ahead of the Italian grand prix.PHOTO: AFP

MONZA, ITALY (REUTERS) - Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took pole position for the Italian Grand Prix and surged five points clear of Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One championship after a sprint qualifying race on Saturday (Sept 11).

Hamilton’s Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas won the sprint but engine penalties sent the Finn to the back of the grid for Sunday’s main event at Monza.

While Verstappen is perfectly placed for an eighth win in 14 races, seven-times world champion Hamilton will start fourth and with the championship gap in danger of dropping into double figures.

“The race was better than expected, we scored some nice little points. It is going to be an interesting race tomorrow,” said Verstappen, second at the chequered flag.

McLaren’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo will join the Dutch 23-year-old on the front row for the first time since the pair were team mates at Red Bull in 2018.

Bottas took three championship points, Verstappen two and Ricciardo one.

Mercedes had planned to impose team orders for their drivers to swap places during the race and maximise Hamilton’s points haul but the opportunity never materialised.

Hamilton only reclaimed a place when AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, last year’s surprise winner at the Italian team’s home race, broke his front wing which became lodged under the car and pitched him out.

That brought out the safety car until the end of lap three and Hamilton was unable to get close enough to Norris after that to attempt an overtake.

“It wasn’t great,” the Briton said of his afternoon.

“I’ve got to try and figure out how I can get by and try to limit the damage.

“You saw the pace of the Red Bull, they are so fast. It should be an easy win (for Verstappen) and I have to try and get past the two guys (Ricciardo and Norris) ahead.”