Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took pole for the Italian Grand Prix after topping the times in qualifying at Monza on Saturday. Leclerc finished 0.145 seconds ahead of championship leader Max Verstappen after posting his fastest lap on his final shot around the Temple of Speed to claim his eighth pole of the season. “Very happy with the lap, very happy with the performance, it’s been great weekend… I really hope we can finish just like in 2019,” said Leclerc, who won here three years ago.
The man from Monaco is in prime position to record his first win since Austria in early July.
This was Ferrari’s 22nd pole at Monza on the famous Italian constructor’s 75th anniversary, marked by a dash of yellow on the team’s livery this weekend.
Reigning champion Verstappen had already been handed a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race for exceeding his engine allocation.
The Red Bull driver is hunting his first ever win at Monza as he tries to extend his 109-point lead from Leclerc and teammate Sergio Perez at the top of the drivers’ standings.
“I think it will be an interesting battle tomorrow,” said Verstappen, who sets off in seventh.
Leclerc will be mindful that Verstappen charged up the field from 14th position to Spa-Francorchamps to win the Belgian Grand Prix in August.
George Russell, who posted the sixth fastest time in qualifying for Mercedes, will start alongside Leclerc on the front row due to further grid penalties to Carlos Sainz, Perez and Lewis Hamilton.
A total of nine drivers have been knocked down the grid, with Sainz and seven-time champion Hamilton starting at the back alongside Yuki Tsunoda.
The second row after the raft of sanctions is an all McLaren affair of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, last year’s Monza winner.
Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and the Alpine of Fernando Alonso occupy the third row, with Verstappen joined by Nyck de Vries on the fourth row.
De Vries was thrown into the F1 deep end, making his debut after stepping in for Alex Albon at the last minute.
Williams driver Albon, 26, had to abandon the GP on Saturday after being diagnosed with appendicitis.
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