Lewis Hamilton scored his seventh pole position of the 2016 and his fifth at the Italian GP with a dominant performance at Monza where he beat team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg by almost half second. Sebastian Vettel qualified third for Ferrari ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
The first casualty of Q1 was Manor’s Esteban Ocon. With eight minutes gone in Q1, the Frenchman, who made his race debut at last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, suffered a technical problem that forced him to pull over at Turn 1. He exited the session without setting a lap time.
At the front, Hamilton set the early pace; recording a time of 1:21.854, well over half a second clear of Rosberg, with Vettel third ahead of Ricciardo. Vettel and fifth-placed team-mate Kimi Raikkonen set their best times on the session on soft tyres.
As the clock wound down on the session that order remained static, but at the back things were more fluid, with Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, McLaren Fernando Alonso; Renault’s Jolyon Palmer and Magnussen, the second of Marcus Ericsson; in the drop zone ahead of the unfortunate Ocon.
Only Alonso made it out of that group with the Spaniard posting a time of 1:23.783, just four hundredths of a second clear of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat who was first to be eliminated in P17. Behind him were Nasr, Ericsson, Palmer, Magnussen and Ocon.
At the start of Q2 both the Mercedes and Ferrari pairings went out on soft compound Pirelli tyres. Rosberg set the first time of the session with a lap of 1:21.809 but he was quickly eclipsed by Hamilton, who went 0.311s better to claim provisional top spot. Rosberg slotted into P2 ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, all cars powered by Mercedes engines.
Both Ferrari drivers swiftly moved supersoft tyres and Vettel jumped up to P3 with a time of 1:22.275, 0.777s adrift of Hamilton’s soft tyre time. Raikkonen took P5 behind Bottas with Massa in sixth ahead of Esteban Gutierrez and Perez. In ninth and tenth places after the initial runs were Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, both having set their times on soft tyres.
The Red Bull pair bolted on supersofts for their final runs in the segment, however and Verstappen jumped to P6 to ensure passage to Q3. Ricciardo went quicker to claim the same spot as Verstappen dropped to eighth behind Esteban Gutierrez who have Haas something to cheer about by handing the team it’s first Q3 berth. It was also the Mexican’s first Q3 since the Korean Grand Prix of 2013.
Behind Verstappen, the final two Q3 places were taken by the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg. Out at this stage from P11 back went Massa, Romain Grosjean in the second Haas, Alonso, Wehrlein, the second McLaren of Jenson Button and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz.
In the first runs of Q3 Rosberg was first across the line but his time was slower than his Q2 best and Hamilton quickly demoted his team-mate to P2 with an opening lap of 1:21.358, 0.140s faster than his own Q2 best. Raikkonen slotted in to third, seven tenths adrift of Hamilton with Vettel fourth ahead of Bottas, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez and Gutierrez.
And there was no significant improvement by Rosberg in the final runs. The German made a marginal gain but Hamilton once again appeared to effortlessly carve a chunk out of his own personal best time to take his seventh pole position of his career and his 56th overall.
Ferrari will line up for its home race in P3 and P4, with Vettel beating team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to the forward slot of row two by just under a tenth of a second. Valtteri Bottas gave Williams hope of a good points with fifth place ahead of the Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Verstappen, with the Force Indias of Perez and Hulkenberg set to line up on row five.
2016 Italian Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:21.854 1:21.498 1:21.135
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.497 1:21.809 1:21.613
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:23.077 1:22.275 1:21.972
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:23.217 1:22.568 1:22.065
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:23.264 1:22.499 1:22.388
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:23.158 1:22.638 1:22.389
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:23.229 1:22.857 1:22.411
8 Sergio Perez Force India 1:23.439 1:22.922 1:22.814
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:23.259 1:22.951 1:22.836
10 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:23.386 1:22.856 1:23.184
11 Felipe Massa Williams 1:23.489 1:22.967
12 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:23.421 1:23.092
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:23.783 1:23.273
14 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:23.760 1:23.315
15 Jenson Button McLaren 1:23.666 1:23.399
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:23.661 1:23.496
17 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:23.825
18 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:23.956
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:24.087
20 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:24.230
21 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:24.436
22 Esteban Ocon Manor