Italian Grand Prix 2017: Hamilton makes history in Monza

Mercedes had dominated Friday's practice sessions but all that data went out the window, as Saturday had brought apocalyptic levels of rain to Northern Italy.


To everybody's surprise, the cars queued at the end of the pit-lane before the start of Q1; the race stewards normally shy away from wet conditions so this was a welcome change. The conditions, though, were appalling, the sheer amount of spray in the air created a fog that made it near-impossible to see the drivers on the TV coverage. It was only a matter of time before someone made a mistake and Romain Grosjean was the first to end up in the wall. The Haas driver was powering along the pit-straight but went out of the drier grooves, aquaplaned and was then a passenger. Thankfully, he was alright but the stewards didn't hesitate to bring out the red flags. 

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time (1:40.128) before the session was stopped but only a handful of drivers had completed a lap. With the rain still falling, and the circuit getting wetter, the resumption of Q1 today looked more and more like a pipe dream. The delays were seemingly endless and the booing from the crowd was definitely louder than the Safety Car.

After over two hours of no action, the rain eased off and the stewards finally allowed the 19 remaining cars to go out onto the track. Max Verstappen set the initial pace, the track visibly drier than in the four and a half minutes earlier in the day. Hamilton then retook his place at the top of the timings, as Mercedes flexed their muscles down the Temple of Speed's long straights. The track was drying, you wouldn't have guessed it by pool on the left hand side of the pit-straight but it was dry enough for some to take the plunge and go out on intermediates. Jolyon Palmer and both of the Haas and Sauber cars were the five that fell through the trap door in Q1. 


Q2 got underway with the likes of Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg opting to go out on the full wet tyres. The time difference was not as much as you'd expect and Verstappen even challenged the title rivals Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton for the top spot. Fernando Alonso was inundated with grid penalties and failed to make Q3 but Stoffel Vandoorne sensationally managed to make the top 10. The troubles of McLaren's Honda engine have been well documented but a Q3 appearance for Vandoorne shows some progress. Sergio Perez was the driver who was surprisingly eliminated in Q2, the Force India's Mercedes engine not enough for the Mexican; he lines up P11. 


Rain again fell for the start of Q3 and the full wets were once again required. Verstappen, Hamilton, Ricciardo and then Hamilton again set the fastest times as the Ferraris both floundered around their home circuit. The red cars were struggling to set a good time and line up 7th and 8th before penalties are applied. The Red Bulls were second and third but will drop back because of engine penalties, Esteban Ocon had an excellent performance, qualifying in P5. Valtteri Bottas also struggled but will start from the second row due to penalties above. 

In the end, though, it was Lewis Hamilton who took his 6th pole at Monza, a record, and the 69th of his career, also a record. He surpasses Michael Schumacher's all-time record after equaling it a week ago at Spa. Lance Stroll was the standout performer as he had his best ever qualifying; the Canadian rookie lines up alongside Hamilton on the front row. 

Full Provisional Classification:

P1: Hamilton 1:35.554

P2: Verstappen^ +1.148

P3: Ricciardo^^ +1.287

P4: Stroll +1.448

P5: Ocon +2.165

P6: Bottas +2.279

P7: Raikkonen +2.433

P8: Vettel +2.510

P9: Massa +2.697

P10: Vandoorne +3.603

P11: Perez 1:37.582 (Q2)

P12: Hulkenberg* +0.477

P13: Alonso~ +0.620

P14: Kvyat +0.663

P15: Sainz* +0.942

P16: Magnussen 1:40.489 (Q1)

P17: Palmer** +0.157

P18: Ericsson +1.234

P19: Wehrlein +1.386

P20: Grosjean +2.866

* 10-place grid penalty

** 15-place grid penalty

^ 20-place grid penalty

^^ 25-place grid penalty

~ 35-place grid penalty

Thoughts on qualifying?  Comment below!

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