Raikkonen’s fastest F1 lap ever wins Monza pole

Image by Sam Bloxham/LAT

Raikkonen’s fastest F1 lap ever wins Monza pole

Formula 1

Raikkonen’s fastest F1 lap ever wins Monza pole

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Kimi Raikkonen took the 18th pole position of his career — and first since Monaco last year — as Ferrari locked out the front row at the Italian Grand Prix.

In a thrilling battle between the Ferraris and championship leader Lewis Hamilton, Raikkonen was third after the first runs in Q3 but crucially also third on the road behind Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel on the final laps. Hamilton improved his provisional pole time before Vettel dramatically beat it by 0.014s, but Raikkonen then went even quicker a matter of seconds later with a 1m19.119s.

The lap is the fastest average speed in Formula 1 history, with Raikkonen completing a lap of Monza at 263.587kph (163.785mph).

With Ferrari locking out the front row, it will be an all-Mercedes second row as Hamilton is joined by teammate Valtteri Bottas. Behind them are Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean, while there was an impressive performance from Carlos Sainz to secure seventh place ahead of Esteban Ocon.

Similarly impressive was the performance of Pierre Gasly in the Toro Rosso Honda to reach Q3 on such a power sensitive circuit, while Lance Stroll rounded out the top 10 with a strong showing for Williams.

There was controversy at the end of Q2 as Fernando Alonso started his final flying lap too close to Kevin Magnussen and caught the Haas by the end of the pit straight. Attempting to overtake into Turn 1, Alonso tried to go around the outside of Magnussen and the pair went wheel-to-wheel, ensuring both their laps were ruined as they were massively delayed at the first chicane.

That meant Magnussen was a surprise elimination in 11th place, while Sergey Sirotkin was 12th as Williams enjoyed a much more competitive session. Alonso was then 13th — although the incident will be investigated after qualifying — with Nico Hulkenberg 14th ahead of Daniel Ricciardo as the pair will start from the back of the grid due to power unit penalties.

Lance Stroll makes a run in his Williams amid the sea of red during qualifying. (Image by Sam Bloxham/LAT)

Practice had shown qualifying would be a close affair, but it proved to be one of the tightest sessions of the season as 0.202s covered eighth to 18th place in Q1. Force India was caught out by the pace of the midfield, with Sergio Perez only completing one run and sitting in the pits when a number of other drivers improved at the end, bumping him down to 16th and a surprise elimination.

Perez missed out by just 0.001s with Grosjean edging through in 15th, while Charles Leclerc in 17th was also just 0.001s further back as both Saubers failed to progress. Brendon Hartley once again failed to reach Q2, albeit his time only being exactly 0.1s slower than teammate Gasly in 12th, while Marcus Ericsson and Stoffel Vandoorne also dropped out.

Ericsson will drop behind Vandoorne as a result of taking a new internal combustion engine overnight after his massive crash on Friday, with the Swede still starting ahead of Ricciardo and Hulkenberg.

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