Qualifying and Friday? They still do not fit really together even if there were times when qualifying was split into two parts with the first session taking place on Friday. In spite of this, yesterday’s qualifying session did not fail to thrill, producing an unusual pecking order on the legendary Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
Friday’s qualifying saw the Mercedes-powered cars enjoying a performance advantage over its rivals with the defending champion team dictating the pace in the session that determined the grid for Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying. Despite Lewis Hamilton having the better of his team mate Valtteri Bottas through the practice session and the first two segments of qualifying, the Finn bounced back on his very last hot lap to snatch the first starting position away from the Briton.
Red Bull looked off the pace of both Mercedes and McLaren in practice, but Max Verstappen delivered when needed to secure the third place for today’s 18-lap Sprint Qualifying, just a place behind his championship rival Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel, 11th, 1:20.913
“It was very busy on track with everybody trying to find a tow and in the end we just missed out on making Q3 by three hundredths. I was happy with my lap in Q2: it was a good lap, but it could have been a little cleaner in the middle sector. It is a shame to miss Q3 by a small margin, but I still believe we can make up ground tomorrow to be in a stronger position for Sunday when it matters most.”
Lance Stroll, 12th, 1:21.020
“It is a pity to have narrowly missed out on Q3. It was a solid effort by the team and we were able to get in some good laps despite the challenges Monza always throws up in qualifying. Traffic was an issue for everyone and it was difficult to find good tows. While it is disappointing not to have made Q3, tomorrow’s Sprint should give us the opportunities to gain places and start Sunday’s race inside the top 10.”
Max Verstappen, 3rd, 1:19.966
“It wasn’t the best qualifying session but I think for us this track is always going to be difficult. We struggled a little bit more than we wanted to in FP1, but I think we recovered quite well throughout qualifying. I’m happy with third and it would have been unrealistic to hope for more. I think for the Sprint maybe we can be closer but you never know around here, so of course we will try and keep the pressure on. We’ve got FP2 tomorrow morning so we can see what we can do to help the long run pace a bit more but for us it will be more difficult around here with the long straights, nevertheless I hope we can score good points tomorrow.”
Sergio Perez, 9th, 1:20.611
“We definitely struggled in qualifying today. Tomorrow our aim in the Sprint is to try to gain some positions and come through the field strong, I think this will be difficult with the DRS train though. Our long runs looked promising today and a lot of things can happen during a race so we’ll see what happens, I’m looking forward to it. We will try to optimise our performance for a strong race on Sunday.”
Daniel Ricciardo, 5th, 1:19.995
“From a general standpoint, I’m happy. We were fast and were fighting for top three on the grid, so I’m happy we had the potential to do that. But I’m so frustrated that we got that close but not quite close enough. It was more of a tease than anything, but it’s all good.
“I think the team performance was great. We didn’t put ourselves in a difficult situation with any of the out-laps and I was in the right places in terms of track position, we had good tows. My only frustration is that it’s so close and, unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the milliseconds. It is what it is and I’m now looking forward to the racing.”
Lando Norris, 4th, 1:19.989
“I’m satisfied with today – we’re back in a much better position after last weekend, and we seem much more competitive. I think it’s the perfect start to the weekend. There was a possibility of being P3 if I’d put the lap completely together – but one small mistake, I think, cost us. It’s a bit of a shame that I missed out on it, but fourth still puts us in a very good position compared to the people we’re really racing against and battling with this weekend and for the Championship. I’m happy – and it’s a good way to bounce back after last week.”
The finest of margins. 😳#ItalianGP 🇮🇹
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) September 10, 2021
Pierre Gasly, 6th, 1:20.260
“I’m very pleased with today, I think I gave everything out there and it was a very good lap to put us in P6. We really maximised our potential, especially in Q3, where I was able to put it all together. It was tricky, but we know it’s always a game of cat and mouse here, as everyone is fighting for a tow. It was very important to get a clean lap and we managed to do that today so I’m really happy. Another P6 for us, I think that’s the 11th time I’ve qualified in the top six this year and it shows that the team are doing such a good job. Tomorrow is going to be 18 intense laps, trying to keep up with the guys in front, and make sure we start Sunday’s race in a strong position.”
Yuki Tsunoda, 17th, 1:21.973
“I’m obviously disappointed with today, but it is what it is. Track limits are the same for everyone, so it’s just a shame I made that mistake. I think tomorrow’s Sprint is going to be difficult as it’ll be a DRS train, so it’ll be hard to overtake, but I’ll try my best to make my way forward. I think getting a good start off the line will be really important and the best chance to overtake tomorrow.”
Charles Leclerc, 8th, 1:20.510
“Qualifying was really tough for me today. We had an issue throughout the sessions with the electronic management of the engine braking. The situation was especially tricky in Q1, but for Q3 it had slightly improved and it should be fine for tomorrow. All things considered, eighth is a good result. We will try to gain some positions in the Sprint to secure a good starting position for Sunday’s race.”
Carlos Sainz, 7th, 1:20.462
“I think today we showed we have made good progress since last year and we did a good job with both cars in Q3. We obviously want to be further up the order and even more so in front of the Tifosi, but I think today we extracted the maximum out of the car.
“Q1 was quite tricky because of traffic and unfortunately we quickly understood we were a bit too far away from the top five. Despite that, we kept improving throughout the session and managed to put together a good lap in the end for P7. Overall it was a solid session. It’s a decent starting position for tomorrow and we will fight to gain positions in the Sprint and on Sunday.”
Lewis Hamilton, 2nd, 1:19.651
“First, I want to congratulate Valtteri, that was really a mega lap and he was just quicker. I couldn’t match it at the end so very well deserved. Especially with the news that went out earlier this week, it’s great to see Valtteri driving so well. From my end, I struggled a bit in that last session for whatever reason, so not the best qualifying for me. But in general, it was close between us all out there and I’m happy to have a front row lockout for the team.
“We have to get off to a good start tomorrow and try and maximise the opportunities. There has been many lost points this year so every point really counts and we need to try and capitalise during these sprint race weekends. The format is exciting and it’s amazing to see the Italian fans back. I hope we can give them a good show.”
Valtteri Bottas, 1st, 1:19.555
“Pole position feels great and I really had fun and enjoyed it out there. It was beautiful lap, which I managed to save for the end. I felt relaxed in the car and I am happy with our work as a team. The car has felt good all day, with our performance little stronger than we perhaps expected, especially when you look at the gap to Red Bull. Hopefully it will be similar on the race pace for us.
“I know I’ll be starting from the back on Sunday with the PU change but the focus is on tomorrow and trying to extract as many points as possible. We know Sunday will be a fight, but our pace is good and I’m sure we can finish strong then too. But our eyes are set on tomorrow and hopefully we have another good day.”
Robert Kubica, 19th, 1:22.530
“It wasn’t the smoothest of days but tomorrow we can try and make up some ground. Practice wasn’t bad, but when you have only one hour to try three compounds and do long and shorter runs, it’s not easy to get a reference. I am a bit disappointed about the qualifying result as I believe we could have been a bit higher up the grid. Finding space on track wasn’t the easiest, and when I did, my first run was ruined by Mazepin, who was just in the middle of the track. At first I thought he had a technical issue, but then he sped away. It’s a bit of a shame, as in a short session you have to make every lap count, but that’s how it is.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 10th, 1:20.808
“I am very happy to have achieved Q3 in front of the Tifosi, it’s unbelievable. We looked solid from the start, even in Q1 and Q2 we did good laps for sixth and seventh and we knew we could get a good result. We only had one fresh set of tyres for Q3, so we couldn’t make much progress there, but we’ll take P10. Even if this position is only for the grid of the Sprint, it’s a good result and it allows us to start from a great position. We will need a good start tomorrow, on a race with no stops and no strategy, but we know we want to set us up well for Sunday. There will be some very aggressive drivers out there and we’ll need to make our opportunities count.”
Esteban Ocon, 14th, 1:21.103
“I’m a bit disappointed in our result in qualifying as I feel there was a little more left out there for us. It was very close out there again with our rivals and also close between Fernando and I – less than half a tenth – which does show we’re pushing the car to the maximum. We’ve been on a good run of races reaching Q3, so it’s disappointing for that to end. However, this weekend’s format is different to usual and we have tomorrow’s Sprint and Sunday’s race to make a comeback. We have positions to make up, but I’m aiming to be on the front foot tomorrow, make some overtakes and put ourselves in a better position for Sunday’s race.”
Fernando Alonso, 13th, 1:21.069
“We didn’t have many laps today with the shorter format, but we couldn’t find the pace in the end. We got through to Q2 but then my first run in that session wasn’t ideal as I locked up the front tyres going into Turn 1. This meant I only had one push lap. Q3 might have been possible today with a few tenths to gain. It’s the Sprint tomorrow, though, so let’s see what we can do then. It will be more difficult to overtake than it was at Silverstone, and the first few corners will be tight, but we have to remember the points are scored on Sunday.”
George Russell, 15th, 1:21.392
“It has been a really tricky day, and we aren’t quite as competitive here as we would have hoped. Since we hit the ground with FP1 we weren’t in the right window with the car and that really compromises you on a weekend like this. We did a really good job executing qualifying though and the team got me in the right position on track, but today just wasn’t meant to be. I think we are in a better position for the Sprint tomorrow than we were today, but generally I think it’s going to be a tough weekend. However, we need to build momentum and see what we can achieve.”
Nicholas Latifi, 16th, 1:21.925
“The car wasn’t feeling great in FP1, and only having one practice session makes things tricky but I think we did manage to make some good changes ahead of qualifying and car did feel much better. Ultimately, as we saw last year, this isn’t a track that really suits our car and we could have done some things better in the qualifying session. It’s frustrating to miss out on Q2 when the margins were so small. We did make some compromises to our pace today which will hopefully put us in a better in a better position tomorrow, and this is a track that you can overtake at, so we’ll see what we can do in the Sprint.”
Mick Schumacher, 18th, 1:22.248
“It was getting kind of tight at the end of qualifying. It was good to have a good lap and be in front of one Alfa Romeo – that’s an achievement for us. We’re happy with what we achieved today. Looking forward to tomorrow, hopefully we have made the right changes in our car to be able to fight. What we learnt from Silverstone is that the Sprint is a bit different to the race in terms of degradation, so we’ll probably have to attack and go in with a different mindset compared to the main race.”
Nikita Mazepin, 20th, 1:22.716
“One more interesting, hectic qualifying session out there. I was happy to get a clean lap at the end, in terms of being able to start, as we were going very slow on the straight next to the last corner. I went off unfortunately on my fastest lap which cost me quite some time. We have two races ahead this weekend, the pace is looking very promising, so I’m excited.”
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