Having matched Michael Schumacher’s record 68 pole in Belgium, Lewis Hamilton has taken a landmark 69th at Monza for tomorrows Italian Grand Prix.
The session ended up being delayed by rain for two hours after starting on time, before Romain Grosjean crashed his Haas on the pit straight in the opening stages on the sodden race track.
That prompted the delay with 13 minutes left on the clock, but it wasn’t long before a window was found and the remaining 40 minutes were able to take place. The usual suspects ended up dropping out of Q3 as the conditions improved, with Jolyon Palmer joining Marcus Ericsson, Pascal Wehrlein and Grosjean towards the rear of the field.
In the next session the rain started to come down again, prompting some drivers including Max Verstappen to venture out on the full Wet tyre. He went quickest initially by 1.8 seconds from those on the Intermediates, however after a handful of laps drivers on that tyre started to find lap time allowing Hamilton to lead from Sebastian Vettel at the end of the second part of qualifying.
Sergio Perez was edged out by Stoffel Vandoorne at the end, while Nico Hulkenberg couldn’t improve his time along with Fernando Alonso, Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz.
In Q3 is was much of the same as Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas went out on the Intermediates, while the two Red Bulls went out on the full Wet tyres. That turned out to be the best tyre to be on, as the conditions started to worsen and the rain intensified.
Esteban Ocon also elected to run on the full Wet tyre, getting what could turn out to be provisional pole with the penalties set to be taken by both Red Bulls for gearbox-related issues.
However when Mercedes switched to the Intermediates, Hamilton was able to find the time to beat Max Verstappen to pole by 1.1 seconds. Team mate Valtteri Bottas didn’t find time and will start down in fourth on the grid, alongside Ocon who starts behind Lance Stroll.
The Williams driver managed to put in a last minute attempt that sandwiched him between the two Red Bulls in third on the timing tower, but of course that turns out to be second on the grid with penalties applied.
Both Ferrari’s were unable to find pace on the Wet tyres, with Kimi Raikkonen starting ahead of Sebastian Vettel in fifth and sixth respectively. Felipe Massa qualified ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne for what will be ninth and tenth on the grid.