Leclerc takes pole position for Italian Grand Prix from Hamilton

Madness at Monza! Charles Leclerc takes pole position for Italian Grand Prix from Lewis Hamilton… but final runs turn into shambles as most drivers miss out on setting another lap

  • Charles Leclerc took pole position for Ferrari in calamitous end to the session
  • Only the Ferrari driver and Carlos Sainz able to set a second lap in shootout
  • Drivers vying for slipstream advantage resulted in them being timed out
  • Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas completed top three for Italian Grand Prix
  • READ: All the latest F1 news, features and points tables throughout the season 

Charles Leclerc turned himself into an instant Ferrari favourite by taking a farcical pole position in front of the partisans at the Italian Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old, buoyed by victory only a week ago in Belgium, outgunned his team-mate Sebastian Vettel, the German who is paid £36million to bring the bacon home. The guard is changing.

To loud cheers from the packed old stand on the start-finish straight bedecked in red flags and banners, Leclerc took the honours 0.039sec ahead Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in second. Valtteri Bottas was third quickest, with Vettel 0.150sec short of Leclerc’s time.

Charles Leclerc snatched pole position for Ferrari for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix

The Ferrari driver will start alongside Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the front row of the grid

Valtteri Bottas took third for Mercedes to complete the top three at Monza

It was Leclerc’s third pole of the season. But what a mess he capitalised on – he was one of only two drivers to make it through the line before the chequered flag was waved as he field went out for their final flying laps.

By then the Monegasque had already set the fastest lap, and Carlos Sainz of McLaren, the other competitor still going, could not beat him.

The fast Monza track – the Temple of Speed – is ideally suited to the home team’s car and they will be confident of partly compensating for a dismal season of evaporated hopes by taking their first victory here for nine years.

Ferrari’s world champion from 1979 Jody Scheckter hands Leclerc his pole position award

The pole position shootout though proved to be a shambles, with no driver on track wanting to lose out on the slipstream benefits of following another car

As a result the cars bunched up in the dying seconds ahead of the final round of runs

But all bar Carlos Sainz (front) and Leclerc failed to cross the finish line before the lights turned red to begin a  final qualifying lap


1 Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:19.307

2 Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1:19.346

3 Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 1:19.354

4 Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:19.457

5 Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 1:19.839

6 Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:20.049

7 Sainz (Spa) McLaren 1:20.455

8 Albon (Tha) Red Bull 1:20.021

9 Stroll (Can) Racing Point 1:20.498

10 Raikkonen (Fin) A. Romeo 1:20.515

11 Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo 1:20.517

12 Magnussen (Den) Haas 1:20.615

13 Kvyat (Rus) Toro Rosso 1:20.630

14 Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:21.068

15 Gasly (Fra) Toro Rosso 1:21.125

16 Grosjean (Fra) Haas 1:20.784

17 Perez (Mex) Racing Point 1:21.291

18 Russell (Gbr) Williams 1:21.800

19 Kubica (Pol) Williams 1:22.356

20 Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull No Time 

It is too little, too late for the championship fight – Hamilton is well clear in that and does not remotely need to win on Sunday to maintain an advantage that will surely see him take his sixth title long before the season ends in Abu Dhabi at the start of December.

Hamilton’s closest rival, Max Verstappen, will start at the back of the grid after having engine changes. The Dutchman is already 87 points adrift and was ailing again in qualifying as he tried unavailingly to set one fast lap. He lost power and had to abort his trip.

Above him at the foot of the timing sheets were the two Williams cars again, with British rookie George Russell once more getting the better of his team-mate Robert Kubica. But there is little to cheer back in their garage.

Lando Norris, the other English new boy, qualified 14th for McLaren but an engine penalty means he will start from the naughty step with Verstappen.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari’s last champion back in 2007, pranged his Alfa Romeo at the Parabolica but climbed out unscathed. The session was suspended for 11 minutes. By then, Leclerc had already delivered the decisive lap.

Kimi Raikkonen had brought the final session to a halt earlier after spinning out

Ferrari fans were delighted to see Leclerc claim pole position for the Italian Grand Prix

Robert Kubica’s Williams spits put gravel after running wide during qualifying

Late summer sunshine bathed Monza for the qualifying session

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