2014 ITALIAN GP: LEWIS HAMILTON FINNALY TO POLE

Lewis Hamilton claimed his first pole position since the Spanish Grand Prix in May, beating team-mate Nico Rosberg to the front of the grid for the Italian Grand Prix by two tenths of a second. Although pushed Rosberg, who had missed final practice with a gearbox problem, Hamilton rarely looked troubled in the session and the Briton will go into tomorrow’s race feeling sure of his chances of repeating his 2012 win here. The second row went to Williams, with Valtteri Bottas beating Felipe Massa by just under two tenths of a second.

With the performance difference between the tyre compounds only at about 0.6s most drivers attempted to get through Q1 on the hard compound tyre in order to save a set of mediums for the second segment. Hamilton set the early Q1 pace with a lap of 1:25.571, but 10 minutes into the session he was displaced at the top of the timesheet by Felipe Massa, the Brazilian confirming that Williams are right in the mix here at Monza. Rosberg, who had not set a time in final practice due to a gearbox problem that was later resolved without incurring a penalty, then lowered the benchmark further with a time of 1:25.493.

That marker was soon passed by Hamilton, however, with the Briton shaving another tenth of the P1 time. With four minutes to go the drivers in the drop zone, in order, were Jules Bianchi, Adrian Sutil, Kamui Kobayashi, Max Chilton, Marcus Ericsson and Romain Grosjean, who had only joined the fray 13 minutes in after suffering a fluid leak on his car early on. From that sextet only Sutil managed to find enough pace to make it through to Q2, at the expense of Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado. At the top of the chart Hamilton eased through with his lap of 1:25.363 ahead of Rosberg, Massa, Bottas and the Toro Rossos of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat. Both had had to utilise the medium tyre on their final runs to be utterly sure of progress.

When Q2 got underway, Rosberg was straight onto the medium tyres and straight to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:24.682, the first man to go below the 1m25s barrier this weekend. He was quickly followed by Bottas, who was just two tenths behind. Massa claimed P3 with a lap of 1:25.046. Hamilton, though, was halfway through a quick run and soon reclaimed P1 with a time of 1:24.560. Prior to the final runs the drop zone featured Kevin Magnussen in P11, followed by Kvyat, Vergne, Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Gutierrez and Sutil. Their target for those final runs was the 1:26.110 set by 10th-placed Kimi Raikkonen. This time it was Magnussen who made the decisive move forward, claiming P10 with a time of 1:25.973. Kvyat lost out on a Q3 place by a tenth, finishing in P11, ahead of the discomfited looking Raikkonen, who failed to improve on his final run. Vergne was 13th, ahead of Sutil and Gutierrez. At the front it was Hamilton, four hundredths of a second ahead of Rosberg, with Bottas two and half tenths down on Hamilton’s benchmark. Behind them came Massa, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and Magnussen.

The opening runs in Q3 sat provisional pole taken by Hamilton who set a scorching pace to record a lap of 1:24.109, some four tenths ahead of Rosberg. The Briton was told that the only place he was losing out to his title rival was in sector one. Behind the two Mercedes cars after the first outing was Bottas with a 1:24,697 with Massa just under two tenths further back. Fifth was McLaren’s Jenson Button, followed By Vettel, Alonso, Magnussen, Ricciardo and Perez.

Rosberg, chasing the target, was the first of the Mercedes pairing to venture out for a final run and the German quickly set a purple first sector of 27.1. His second sector was better too but his final sector wasn’t good enough and his lap of 1:24.383 left him two tenths shy of Hasmilton’s first-run time. The Briton throttled back on his own final run and took time to celebrate his fifth pole position of the season and his first since the Spanish Grand Prix in May. With Rosberg second, row two went to the Williams pair of Bottas and Massa, with the Finn ahead. Row three is set to be filled by the impressive Magnussen, whose final run secured him a lap time of 1:25.314 and fifth place ahead of team-mate Button. They were followed by Alonso, Ricciardo and Perez.

 P.    DRIVER             TEAM           TIME       GAP  
 1. Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes AMG   1:24.109
 2. Nico Rosberg       Mercedes AMG   1:24.383  +  0.274
 3. Valtteri Bottas    Williams       1:24.697  +  0.588
 4. Felipe Massa       Williams       1:24.865  +  0.756
 5. Kevin Magnussen    McLaren        1:25.314  +  1.205
 6. Jenson Button      McLaren        1:25.379  +  1.270
 7. Fernando Alonso    Ferrari        1:25.430  +  1.321
 8. Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull       1:25.436  +  1.327
 9. Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull       1:25.709  +  1.600
10. Sergio Perez       Force India    1:25.944  +  1.835
    Q2 fastest time: Lewis Hamilton 1:24.560             
11. Daniil Kvyat       Toro Rosso     1:26.070  +  1.510*
12. Kimi Räikkönen     Ferrari        1:26.110  +  1.550
13. Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso     1:26.157  +  1.597
14. Nico Hulkenberg    Force India    1:26.279  +  1.719
15. Adrian Sutil       Sauber         1:26.588  +  2.028
16. Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber         1:26.692  +  2.132
*penalty 10 places
    Q1 fastest time: Lewis Hamilton 1:25.363             
17. Pastor Maldonado   Lotus          1:27.520  +  2.157
18. Romain Grosjean    Lotus          1:27.632  +  2.269
19. Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham       1:27.671  +  2.308
20. Jules Bianchi      Marussia       1:27.738  +  2.375
21. Max Chilton        Marussia       1:28.247  +  2.884
22. Marcus Ericsson    Caterham       1:28.562  +  3.199
    107% time: 1:31.338