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Red rain for Ferrari as Vettel, Raikkonen struggle in Monza qualifying

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Ferrari’s hopes of scoring a first Formula 1 pole position on home soil since 2010 faded with the weather on Saturday at Monza as Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel ailed to P7 and P8 in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.

Ferrari ventured to its home grand prix with its best chance of winning in front of its loyal Tifosi fan-following in a number of years, enjoying a strong start to the season that has seen Vettel lead the championship throughout.

Vettel saw his points lead fall to just seven after Lewis Hamilton’s victory in Belgium last weekend, but looked to be in the hunt for pole after running well through practice on Friday.

Heavy rain in the lead-up to qualifying threatened to shake up the pecking order, creating an opportunity for Ferrari, yet it was Hamilton who took full advantage of the wet weather to score a record-breaking 69th career pole.

Ferrari, meanwhile, saw its pace dwindle after switching from intermediate to wet tires for the final stage of qualifying after more rain fell, with Raikkonen and Vettel slipping to seventh and eighth respectively.

“I’m that surprised by how quick the others went. Clearly we couldn’t go the same pace,” Vettel said.

“At this stage we don’t know why I’m sure there are a couple of things we will look into and try understand.

“Obviously something didn’t work, didn’t come together. Now it is what it is, we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

Some solace for Ferrari is that Raikkonen and Vettel will move up to P5 and P6 on the grid thanks to engine penalties for Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, but with Hamilton on pole, Mercedes looks poised to rain on the Scuderia’s homecoming parade at Monza.

The Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.