Lewis Hamilton will start from the pole position gridslot in tomorrows Italian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver cleared his teammate Nico Rosberg by a full two tenths of second by the chequered flag, setting his lap time in the first of his runs as opposed to at the end. Both the Williams drivers Valterri Bottas and Felipe Massa start alongside each other on the second row, whilst both McLaren’s start behind them on the third row, with Magnussen out-qualifying Button.
It was only really between the bottom end teams of the grid in the first part of Qualifying, with both Lotus’ qualifying just a tenth and a half ahead of Kamui Kobayashi, who managed to get his Caterham ahead of both Marussia’s for the first time in nine races and his teammate, who starts from the pitlane after he ignored yellow flags in FP3 when Sergio Perez’s car came to a halt with an electrical issue.
It was then a case of both Saubers finishing in the bottom end of the second part of Qualifying, and a surprise departure of both Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Huldenberg. They will both start from P12 and P14, with Daniil Kvyat finishing the session in P11 which translates to P21 after his ten-place grid penalty.
What was also crucial during that part of the session was the tyre choice of Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver did his usual run in the opening stages on a set of Mediums, however he was locking up a lot – like many – heading into turn one. Once he switched to another set of Mediums which would be his race start tyres, his engineer told him not to flat spot them because of how long the opening stint will be. However Lewis didn’t best his lap on them, and in doing so will now have to start his race on the set of tyres that he flat spotted in the opening stages of Q2.
Once we hit Q3 most of the lap times were set in the opening session, with few drivers improving during their final run. As such both Red Bulls start from 8th and 9th, with Vettel out-qualifying Riccardo, and Perez in P10. Alonso meanwhile starts in P7.
As for strategy, fairly straight forward one-stop will be adopted by the teams tomorrow. We expect most of the drivers on the Medium tyre in on lap 23 to switch to the Hard, with those starting on the Hard set to come in around lap 30 to do the final fourteen laps on the Medium tyre. In terms of long run pace, both Williams and Mercedes look pretty closely matched like they did in Austria, however the pace over the course of a lap is much better from Mercedes. McLaren look like they are on course for a good result, with Ferrari and Red Bull look set to be in for an afternoon fighting over the final couple of points-paying positions.
Force India should be interesting. We know how well they are able to conserve tyres and make up track position, however with this being a one-stop it might be a bit more difficult for them to stretch out their stints and gain any benefit from them as a result.
Another thing to look out for tomorrow should be the top speeds. We saw today a peak of 219mph from both Rosberg and Bottas, however tomorrow it looks set to be in the 223mph-zone as the fuel loads get lighter and the lap times get faster. We will most likely see this from Mercedes, however Williams have shown some impressive straight-line speed on more than one occasion this year which matches the Mercedes, so it could even come from them.
As always we will be covering it live at twitter.com/f1weekends, as well as discussing everything post race there and right here.