Kimi the spoiler with pole flier

Ferrari's Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen celebrates winning the pole position after the qualifying session at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza, on Sept 1, 2018.
Ferrari's Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen celebrates winning the pole position after the qualifying session at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza, on Sept 1, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

Vettel sees team-mate as favourite even while he is chasing down F1 c'ship leader Hamilton

MONZA • Sebastian Vettel has said he will back Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to go for the win today, after the Finn smashed Formula One's all-time fastest lap record yesterday to grab pole position for the Italian Grand Prix.

"If he is starting from pole, I guess he is allowed to win," said Vettel, who is second in the drivers' standings on 214 points and is desperate to catch Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton (231). Raikkonen is a distant third at 146.

"It is a long race, he wants to win, I want to win. So hopefully one of us will win."

Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid with a blitz of speed that left defending champion Hamilton third, despite twice beating the record (1:19.525) set at Monza by Colombian Juan-Pablo Montoya, in a Williams, in 2004.

Raikkonen's record lap was clocked in 1min 19.119sec at an average speed of 263.586kmh.

He was one-tenth of a second faster than both Vettel and Hamilton, who set up a memorable three-way finale in a dramatic session, all of them setting records along the way.

"It's only half the job done. I couldn't think of a better place to be on pole," said Raikkonen.

  • ITALIAN GP GRID

  • 1ST ROW

    1 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari

    2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari

  • 2ND ROW

    3 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes

    4 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes

  • 3RD ROW

    5 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull

    6 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas

  • 4TH ROW

    7 Carlos Sainz (Esp) Renault

    8 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India

  • 5TH ROW

    9 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Toro Rosso

    10 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams

  • SELECTED

    13 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren

    19 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull

Valtteri Bottas was fourth for Mercedes ahead of Max Verstappen of Red Bull and Romain Grosjean of Haas. Carlos Sainz was seventh on his 24th birthday for Renault ahead of Esteban Ocon of Force India, Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso and Lance Stroll of Williams.

It was Ferrari's first pole on home soil at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza since 2010 and Raikkonen's first here in 12 years.

It was also the Finn's first pole since Monaco last year and the 18th of his career.

At 38, he is the oldest pole sitter since Nigel Mansell took pole for the 1994 Australian Grand Prix at the age of 41.

Vettel added that he was grateful for his Italian team's home support at Monza. "It is unbelievable to see the amount of support around the track," the German said.

"It's a good result for the team, I'm not entirely happy with my second run.

"I think my lap was not very good, we can have a look but for now it is great to have both cars on the front row."

Hamilton, who was booed by some of the Ferrari fans, congratulated his rivals. "We knew they had the pace this weekend and it was going to take something special to catch them," said the Briton.

"It's generally been that gap all weekend. It was amazing how intense it was and that's how racing should be.

"We gave it everything we could - it's obviously incredibly close between us but they've had the upper hand. Everyone in the team is working as hard as they can.

"It's incredibly close which is great for the sport and it's great to see so many fans here."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 02, 2018, with the headline 'Kimi the spoiler with pole flier'. Print Edition | Subscribe