Lewis Hamilton takes Monza pole as Ferrari’s struggles continue

F1 Monza qualifying
JENNIFER LORENZINI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
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MONZA, Italy — Six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton set a Monza track qualifying record at the Italian Grand Prix as he clinched a record-extending 94th pole position, nudging Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas into second place by just 0.069 seconds on Saturday.

But Ferrari’s troubles went from bad to worse as both cars failed to qualify inside the top 10 at the team’s home circuit for the first time since 1984, with Sebastian Vettel not even making it out of Q1.

Hamilton flew around Monza’s 3.54 miles of asphalt in 164.267mph (2643.362 kph) at the so-called Temple of Speed. It was the fastest lap ever recorded in Formula One, eclipsing Kimi Raikkonen’s one-lap record of 163.785 mph, set by the former world champion on his way to pole at Monza two years ago.

“Fantastic from the team today in terms of timing, when they put us out on the track,” Hamilton said after clocking a best lap of 1 minute 18.887 seconds. “It really demanded a clean lap so I am really happy.

“Valtteri was very, very close, pushing. I made some changes going into qualifying so I was a little bit nervous about whether that was the right thing to do but it worked just fine.”

Bottas and Hamilton exchanged track records in qualifying on their way to securing yet another Mercedes front-row lockout. McLaren driver Carlos Sainz, who will move to Ferrari next year, was third, 0.808 behind the British driver and just ahead of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.

It was a record-extending 94th pole for Hamilton and he will start as favorite to win for a 90th time on Sunday, which would move him within one victory of Michael Schumacher’s record.

Hamilton looks on course to extend his championship lead, which stands at 47 points from Red Bull rival Max Verstappen and 50 from Bottas.

Things went from terrible to abysmal for Ferrari. Charles Leclerc qualified 13th and has little chance of repeating last year when he won from pole position to end the team’s nine-year wait for victory at Monza.

Vettel finished 17th after being hampered by traffic on his final lap.

“What a mess,” Vettel said on the team radio before letting out an expletive.

Earlier, Bottas led third and final practice.

Bottas was 0.229 faster than Sainz and 0.323 quicker than Lando Norris after an impressive showing from the McLaren pair.

The session was interrupted about 10 minutes from the end after a mechanical problem with Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault, with the cars managing to come out for a final flying lap.

Hamilton was fifth fastest but survived a fright at the end, with the Mercedes driver swerving at speed on the approach to the Parabolica corner to avoid two cars going slowly side by side.

No action was taken by the stewards.