Formula One 2021 Italian Grand Prix: Valtteri Bottas is quickest in Friday qualifying

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, takes the top spot for Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying session in the week he is announced in Alfa Romeo’s 2022 driver line-up.

Q1

The Italian outfit, Ferrari, led the way into the first qualifying session with Charles Leclerc leading the way, followed by his teammate, Carlos Sainz. However, Haas’ Mick Schumacher had his out lap deleted for track limit violations at turn 11 and the German had his following flying lap cancelled.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen set a representative time for the field to beat as the Dutch driver set the fastest lap with a 1:22.108. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton quickly smashed out a blistering lap (1:20.543) to top the timing boards while Verstappen fell to ninth in the table.

In the final minute, the last runners created a traffic jam going into the final corner, Curve Parabolica, but they all made it past the line to start their final flying laps. Although George Russell was initially eliminated out of Q1, Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda was found outside track limits at turn 11 and had his lap time deleted – knocking the Japanese driver out of qualifying.

Eliminated:

20. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)

19. Robert Kubica (Alfa Romeo)

18. Mick Schumacher (Haas)

17. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri)

16. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)

Credit: @HaasF1Team

Q2

The top teams were the first to set their lap times at the beginning of Q2, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez setting the first time, followed by Verstappen, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton. The seven-time world champion set the first lap to venture under the one-minute 20’s, with a 1:19.943 – 0.774 seconds faster than his championship rival Verstappen.

After a lengthy wait, the cars returned out into the pit lane in the dying minutes of Q2. After the ‘mexican stand-off’ in the pit lane, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel nearly took out the front wing of Hamilton as the German driver bolted out of his garage.

Norris put in a blistering final lap in the second session of qualfying and only finished 0.123 seconds behind the pace of Hamilton who remained at the top of the grid. As a result, Verstappen was knocked down to fourth as the top 10 qualified to Q3.

Eliminated:

15. George Russell (Williams)

14. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

13. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)

12. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

11. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)

Credit: @WilliamsRacing

Q3

In the shoot-out for the top spot for tomorrow’s sprint race, Hamilton topped the timing boards once again with a 1:19.949. However, Verstappen was just behind the Mercedes’ time by only 0.017 seconds, followed by Norris, who only was 0.065 seconds slower in P3.

With typical Monza fashion, it was another wait in the pit lane to see who would blink first. The Red Bulls were the first to bolt out of their garage, with Perez leading the way ahead of Verstappen. This sent a domino affect down the pit lane as the remaining eight drivers left their respective garages.

Although Hamilton had topped the first two qualifying sessions, Bottas set the fastest time of Q3 to be at the head of the grid in tomorrows sprint race with a lap time of 1:19.555, 0.096 seconds faster than his British teammate. A Mercedes’ one-two nevertheless.

Top 10

10. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)

9. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

8. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

7. Carlos Saniz (Ferrari)

6. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)

5. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)

4. Lando Norris (McLaren)

3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

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