Bottas Beats Hamilton as Max Verstappen Struggles in Traffic at Monza F1 Qualifying

Published 09/10/2021, 1:02 PM EDT
Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 10, 2021 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas during qualifying REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini


Valtteri Bottas pulled off a stunning lap in the dying minutes of Q3 to claim his first-ever Pirelli Speed King award in F1 at the Italian Grand Prix. Max Verstappen threw everything at the Finn only to come away with P3 for Red Bull Racing.

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Hence, Mercedes drivers will start the sprint from the front row, with the McLaren duo claiming P4 and P5 to sign off a strong Friday at the Temple of Speed. Pierre Gasly will start from P6 ahead of the home heroes, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

Behind the Ferrari duo is Sergio Perez, who yet again failed to match his teammate’s qualifying pace, with Giovinazzi securing his second consecutive top 10 start for Alfa Romeo.

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Q3- Mercedes F1 battle for the Italian GP ‘Speed King’

It was down to 10 drivers, with Mercedes looking like the likely outfit to claim pole position. Rightfully so, Hamilton became the provisional speed king with a lap time of 1:19:949, just 0.017s ahead of Verstappen and 0.065s ahead of Norris.

Bottas, meanwhile, ended up grazing the gravel during his first flying lap, consequently losing significant lap time to claim P5 for the time being.

Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 10, 2021 AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and drivers during qualifying REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

With 3 minutes left on the clock, the drivers returned to the track for their respective final flying laps. Verstappen failed to improve on his previous lap, while Hamilton managed to set a personal best lap time.

But, the hero of the session ultimately turned out to be Bottas, who set an all-purple sector lap times to claim the speed king award at Monza.

Behind the trio was Ricciardo who managed to leap ahead of Norris at the very last moment, similar to Bottas. However, only in the Australian’s case, he couldn’t hold on to the position and ended up returning his position, as Norris out-qualified him by 0.006s

Q2- Aston Martin & Alpine F1 duo miss out

As the lights went green, all of the 15 cars rushed onto the track, with the intention of using each other’s tow. Perez and Verstappen were the first set of drivers to set the lap times, with neither of them able to match the eventual lap time of Hamilton.

Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 10, 2021 McLaren’s Lando Norris and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel during qualifying REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

The Dutchman ended up 0.7s slower than Hamilton, while Perez ended up over 1.2s slower. Contrastingly, both the McLaren drivers managed to claim P3 and P4 behind the Mercedes duo who were separated by less than 0.1s.

Ultimately, both of the drivers from Aston Martin and Alpine failed to make it into Q3. Hence, Vettel will start from P11 ahead of Stroll. The Alpine duo will take over the 7th row of the grid, with Russell closing out the top 15.

Leclerc, on the other hand, managed to make his way into Q3 despite issues with the engine brake. A couple of places ahead, Giovinazzi, too, managed to reach the final part of qualifying for the second consecutive race weekend.

Q1- Tsunoda’s qualifying curse continues at Italian GP

1 minute into the session, the Ferrari ended up unleashing their drivers onto the empty track. Sainz ended up bettering his teammate by over 0.3s to go P1. Soon, Verstappen managed to steal the top spot from the Spaniard.

Then arrived the blistering lap from Hamilton, who set a lap time of 1:20:543 to go quickest of all, over 0.2s ahead of Bottas. This certainly revealed the pace difference between the two title contenders, with Verstappen in the receiving end.

Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 10, 2021 AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi during qualifying REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

Nevertheless, Verstappen safe-guarded himself with a decent second lap. Down the order, the battle was still blazing hot for a spot in the top 15. Tsunoda’s qualifying curse continued to haunt him, as he only managed P17 after getting crucial final lap time deleted.

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Along with the Japanese driver, Latifi, Schumacher, Kubica, and Mazepin failed to make it into Q2.

Overall, the grid is set for the second sprint race, with Hamilton and Bottas starting from the front row. Nevertheless, P3 will be an advantageous starting position for the championship leader, who will gain a massive tow from both the front-row drivers.

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Overall, after Verstappen dominated the sprint event at Silverstone, can one of the Mercedes drivers manage to oust the Dutchman to claim pole position for Sunday’s main race?

Watch Story: What Are Sprint Races & Where Will They Be Held?

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Rohit Kumar

1174 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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