Hamilton tops qualifying at Monza

Source:Reuters Published: 2015-9-5 23:03:01

Briton storms to 11th pole in 12 races, and seventh in a row

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton saw off a strong Ferrari challenge at the Italian team's home Grand Prix to seal his seventh pole position in a row and 11th in 12 races on Saturday.

The Mercedes driver, whose teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg will start fourth after engine problems forced him to revert to using one without the latest updates, now has 49 ­career poles.

The pole, in bright sunshine, was the Briton's fourth at Monza and 23rd in succession for Mercedes, one short of the record set by the Williams team in 1992-93.

Kimi Raikkonen joined him on the front row with ­Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel qualifying third.

"These guys did a great job, they are very close," said Hamilton, who leads Rosberg by 28 points in the championship, of his Ferrari rivals after taking pole with a lap of one minute 23.397 seconds and two-tenths faster than Raikkonen.

Vettel, who could become the first driver since Stirling Moss in the 1950s to win at Monza with three different teams, hoped Ferrari would have a chance on Sunday but made clear Hamilton was the overwhelming favorite.

"I think dreaming is allowed but you have to be realistic. It's going to be a tough race tomorrow and these guys [Mercedes] have some serious pace," said the German, racing for the first time in Italy in Ferrari red.

Raikkonen, the 2007 champion for Ferrari, said it was nice to be back on the front row in front of the Italian fans after a long absence.

"It's nice to be here, a home race for us," said the Finn. "This was our best qualifying performance this year as a team so we will try and give another good go tomorrow and get a good result for ourselves and our fans."

The Finn's performance drew immediate praise from watching Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne, "We saw a different Kimi."

The Williams pairing of ­Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas qualified fifth and sixth with Mexican Sergio Perez seventh for Force India.

Toro Rosso's Dutch teenager Max Verstappen failed to set a lap time after his car's engine cover blew off in the first phase of qualifying - the first time he has failed to reach the second stage in his 12-race career.

He should move up the grid once a mass of penalties on cars ahead, including both Red Bulls and McLarens, are taking into account.

Posted in: Motorsport

blog comments powered by Disqus