High speed and high octane, there isn’t anything faster than the qualifying session at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. Never has it looked better with the most wonderful weather conditions at the circuit just outside of Milan.
The first part of qualifying started with the usual Manor heading the field with Renault following shortly after, although a number of drivers elected to stay in the pitlane. Kevin Magnussen went wide into the first corner on his very first lap, although he set the early benchmark of a 1:25.0. Teammate Palmer was faster, with Daniil Kvyat faster again by three tenths. Gutierrez lowered that by half a second, with his teammate Grosjean a couple of tenths slower, both a decent distance ahead of the Toro Rosso.
Sebastian Vettel got the cheers of the crowd as he headed onto the circuit, taking the soft tyre. Rosberg was also out there on the supersoft, as he was about to finish his lap the yellows came out in the first sector. The Mercedes driver went a second and a half faster than Gutierrez, with Manor’s Esteban Ocon the driver which had parked his car at the first chicane. Behind Rosberg, it was teammate Hamilton who went another six tenths faster than him.
With the yellows coming back in, Button went third over two seconds off the pace, before Massa and Verstappen took the position. Vettel also went third with Raikkonen in fourth, Verstappen ahead of Ricciardo in fifth and sixth. Despite struggling this weekend, Sainz went ninth in the Toro Rosso, with Button now down to tenth. The Force India drivers had yet to set a time, with Nico Hulkenberg first going ninth. Bottas split the Red Bull drivers on his first run, ahead of both Perez and Hulkenberg who were sandwiching the other Williams.
On his second run, Ricciardo improved to split the Ferrari drivers. Gutierrez and Grosjean were the other two drivers on the circuit, both in a difficult position at the bottom of the order. Gutierrez improved to eighth, while Grosjean behind improved to ninth. A flow of cars came out on the circuit with just two minutes of the session remaining, although Perez and Massa in tenth and eleventh decided against it, along with the top seven.
Coming over the line it was a scruffy lap for Magnussen, with Alonso in 14th and Button in 12th, Hulkenberg improved to 7th with Wehrlein to 14th. Sainz also improved to 13th, with Nasr in 18th and Kvyat couldn’t improve either.
Those who lost out in the first part of qualifying included: Ocon, Magnussen, Palmer, Ericsson, Nasr and Kvyat.
It was a quiet start to the second part of qualifying, the first driver to take to the track Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton also going out on the soft compound tyre as they did at Spa. A 1:21.8 for Rosberg, but Lewis went even faster, in fact three tenths faster than Nico. Ferrari let Vettel so out on the supersoft tyre, Alonso also went out on the same tyre, with the McLaren going third, before being deposed by Pascal Wehrlein.
Bottas was ahead of Massa filling that gap behind the Mercedes drivers, Hulkenberg going fifth in the Force India. Gutierrez went fifth fastest in the Haas and was faster than Verstappen and Sainz and also the Toro Rosso, with Vettel going into third place, Raikkonen in fifth. Ricciardo could only go ninth fastest dropping Sainz outside the top ten, both of the Red Bull drivers on the slower soft tyre.
Red Bull went out on the super soft tyres, while the Mercedes drivers went back out on the soft as they did on their first run. Fourteen of the sixteen runners went back out to do another run, Vettel in 3rd and Bottas in 4th decided to stay in the pitlane a second off the pace in the case of Valtteri Bottas.
Verstappen set his lap in just sixth fastest, Alonso and Button missing out on the top ten. Gutierrez improved to sixth fastest by Haas, with Ricciardo instantly improving in front of him. Perez and Hulkenberg squeezed into the top ten, with Massa just missing out in 11th.
Those who missed out in the second part of qualifying included Massa, Grosjean, Alonso, Wehrlein, Button and Sainz.
The first run in Q3 saw Lewis Hamilton have the advantage over his teammate by nearly three tenths of a second. Raikkonen had the same advantage over his teammate in third and fourth, with Bottas slipping into fifth fastest and only a tenth behind the Ferrari. Red Bull were slightly behind with Ricciardo ahead of Verstappen, Hulkenberg and Perez rounding out those who set a time. Gutierrez had an off at the second Lesmo corner and didn’t complete his first run.
Rosberg couldn’t improve on his second place, with Lewis Hamilton going another two tenths faster, nearly half a second quicker than his teammate. Vettel went very wide in the parabolica, but went third. Bottas stayed fifth, keeping the Red Bulls behind.