Raikkonen,Vettel, Lock Out Ferrari Front Row in Italy
MONZA, Italy--R.I.S.—On this type of circuit, history is always made. And on Saturday afternoon at this classic track, Kimi Raikkonen became the oldest pole sitter for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix since Nigel Mansall to start alongside his Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel, with a new circuit record of 1:19:119. This is the first time since 1994, when two drivers from the Scuderia will start from the front row. Lewis Hamilton finished third for Mercedes.
Delighted with his pole win, and even more content for Sunday, the Finn is still allowed to race his teammate.
"We can race each other but we obviously have to be careful with each other, but I don't see how it changes anything," Raikkonen said to ESPN F1. "I don't think anybody wants purposely to take a stupid amount of risk and damage somebody else's car and yours too at the same time."
Vettel dominated the first two sessions, and it seemed that the German would take the pole. But Hamilton in the final session, set the benchmark with eight minutes to go, before all drivers changed tires and attempted one more lap. Hamilton improved his final time, and Vettel followed it with the best time of the day. But lurking right behind Vettel was Raikkonen, who surprised everyone with even more of a faster time, breaking the circuit record and taking his first pole here since 2006.
Vettel afterwards came down on his cooldown lap yelling, thinking that he received pole, only to realize that it was he who towed his teammate to a faster time than his.
Valtteri Bottas was disappointing all day long in his Mercedes, but took fourth, while Max Verstappen finished in fifth. Romain Grosjean kept getting closer for the American Haas F1 Team for another year, taking sixth, while Carlos Sainz Jr. had a spectacular run in Seventh with his Renault. Still without a seat for next season, Esteban Ocon finished in eighth, with Pierre Gasly in his Toro Rosso ninth. For the first time this season, Lance Stroll gave his Williams team the best finish in qualifying by taking tenth.
Since it is the first time in eight years that Ferrari has put a driver on pole, Raikkonen concluded that it was just another day at the office.
"I've been on pole 17 times before and it's a similar story.” He said. “For sure it's a special place to get pole position in our home Grand Prix, in front of our fans. But it's not any different from the other ones. It's good today, hopefully tomorrow is another good day."
ITALIAN GRAND PRIX
At Monza Autodrome, Monza, Italy
Final Qualifying results
1 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari --- 1:19:119 (New track record)
2 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari
3 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes
4 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes
5 Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing
6 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. (SPA) Renault
8 Esteban Ocon (FRA) Force India
9 Pierre Gasly (FRA) Toro Rosso
10 Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams
11 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team
12 Sergey Sirotkin (RUS) Williams
13 Fernando Alonso (SPA) McLaren
14 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault
15 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing
16 Sergio Perez(MEX) Force India
17 Charles LeClerc (MON) Sauber
18 Brendon Hartley (NZL) Toro Rosso
19 Markus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber
20 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.