Mercedes’ outgoing driver Valtteri Bottas has taken the Pirelli Speed King Award at Monza, going fastest in qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix, and meaning he’ll start P1 for Saturday’s F1 Sprint, having beaten team mate Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas, who announced earlier this week that he’ll head to Alfa Romeo for 2022, set a blistering pace on his final flying run in Friday evening’s qualifying session at Monza, stopping the clocks with a 1m 19.555s, 0.096s quicker than Hamilton.
And while Bottas will start Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix from the back of the grid after taking a raft of engine penalties for this weekend, he will nonetheless have a role to play for Mercedes by starting P1 in the F1 Sprint in the hope of taking points away from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Verstappen had looked off the pace of the Mercedes across Friday. And that was confirmed in qualifying, as the Dutch driver took P3 on the grid for Red Bull, 0.411s off Bottas.
FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN GRAN PREMIO D’ITALIA 2021
|1 Valtteri BOTTAS Mercedes||1:19.555|
|2 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes||1:19.651|
|3 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing||1:19.966|
|4 Lando NORRIS McLaren||1:19.989|
|5 Daniel RICCIARDO McLaren||1:19.995|
McLaren were one of the surprises of qualifying, with Lando Norris ending both Q1 and Q2 in P3 and ahead of Verstappen. But Norris eventually slotted into fourth, just two-hundredths behind the Dutch driver, with team mate Daniel Ricciardo also impressing to take fifth.
Pierre Gasly was sixth for AlphaTauri, ahead of the two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc – both Ferraris making Q3 this year, as opposed to last year when neither car made the final segment of qualifying. Sergio Perez was a disappointing ninth for Red Bull, ahead of the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi.
Aston Martin were a surprise Q2 exit, having gone well in Friday’s FP1 session, Sebastian Vettel taking P11 to Lance Stroll’s P12, with the Alpines of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon behind in P13 and P14, ahead of the Williams of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, Haas’ Mick Schumacher, the second Alfa of Robert Kubica and the second Haas of Nikita Mazepin rounded out the 20 cars.