What the teams said - Qualifying in Italy
Vettel topped final practice, and it looked like the Ferrari pair were evenly matched heading into qualifying. Leclerc got the tow on their first runs in Q3 and grabbed provisional pole, with Vettel down in fourth. But as the clock ticked down and everyone scrambled for position on the final flying run, Leclerc overtook his team mate in a dash for the line and was the only one of the two to make it across in time to start a timed lap. Vettel was reasonably displeased with the situation as a whole, while the Monegasque sounded more bemused than anything. The fact remains that it is the youngster who starts on pole for the fourth time this season, and is best placed to go for the win tomorrow.
Sebastian Vettel, 4th, 1:19.457
“I was happy with the car which was really good, and I was also pleased with my lap today, but I cannot be happy with how qualifying went. At the end of Q3, most of us didn’t make it through to the second attempt. The lap I did on my own without a tow was good. I think we went out late and then obviously you look for a tow, but it’s clear we waited too long, so in the end there was no margin.
“At the end I just had no choice but to miss my last lap because the light was already red, so I’m obviously disappointed. But from fourth on the grid there are still plenty of chances to do well. Let’s see how it goes tomorrow.”
Charles Leclerc, 1st, 1:19.307
“Of course, it felt amazing when I came out of the car and heard our tifosi cheering from the grandstands. On the other hand, it is a shame for Seb who had the potential to do first or second, and I think that as a team we deserved that today. It was quite a messy qualifying session, especially in Q3. In the last few minutes, we found ourselves in an odd situation at the exit of the second corner where two cars were blocking our way. Seb overtook me there, because I think that he was aware that we were tight on timing. After this, I tried to find the best tow and then overtook Seb before the last corner to give him the tow back, but unfortunately, it was too late to achieve what we had planned.
“Looking at the race, our pace looked quite strong in FP2 and the gap to our competitors is smaller than it was in Spa-Francorchamps. DRS and tow are very important here in Monza, so the target will be to create a gap in the first three laps that is big enough not to see them again!”
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
“We understood right from yesterday’s free practice that today’s qualifying would be very close and that slipstreaming would play a key role. The situation in Q3 was truly abnormal: it’s not often you see the majority of the cars being shown the chequered flag without having been able to do their quick lap, but that is the inevitable consequence of the strategy of waiting until the very last moment to make the very most of the aforementioned slipstreaming.
“It was a shame for Seb, who just missed out on starting his flying lap by the tiniest margin, because being fourth, he was the driver with the most to lose in this situation. Having said that, today our cars were quick and clearly we are very pleased with this pole position, especially as it came here in front our of fans at our home race.”
Hamilton struggled again in final practice, making small mistakes on his flying laps. Roll on qualifying, and he once again nailed a lap when it mattered to grab second. Bottas was fortunate to be third after his lap time was ruled to have just been completed a fraction before the red flags came out. With all the jostling towards the end of Q3, neither driver managed a second run and thus they split the Ferrari pair in what was an anti-climactic end to qualifying. With strong race pace, they are well placed to take the fight to Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton, 2nd, 1:19.346
"We didn't get pole but at the end of the day, Ferrari were always going to be strong here and Charles did a great job today. I was unfortunate with Kimi spinning off right in front of me, so I had to lift at the last corner on my first lap. The end of Q3 was a bit of an anti-climax; we couldn't all go out and do that final lap, which is usually one of the most exciting parts of a race weekend. There was more time in the car, so it's disappointing that we didn't get to properly thrash that out on the final lap and see who had that little edge today. It's great to be able to get on the front row and separate the Ferraris. Together we've got a good chance as a team to get that Ferrari, but let's see tomorrow."
Valtteri Bottas, 3rd, 1:19.354
"I think I was quite unlucky today with the yellow flag at the final corner on my first lap. Kimi went off and I had to lift. Even with that lap I was pretty close to Charles and Lewis, so it could have been an even better day for me. Then the final run was a bit of a mess for everyone. We just ran out of the time at the end of Q3. I got stuck in traffic and then it was too late to get to the line for a second quick lap. It's a shame, we all would have liked to get that lap in and I'm sure everyone wanted to see that too; hopefully we can learn from this. But in general, the pace was good and I'm pleased with my performance today. I'm happy to be right behind the front row; we all know that it's tomorrow that counts and you've always got a good chance starting in the top three here. Our race pace seemed good yesterday, so hopefully we can take the fight to the Ferraris tomorrow."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"It was a bizarre end to qualifying today; we were all trying to get the slipstream out there and that waiting game in the end just made everyone in Formula 1 look silly. Nevertheless, starting P2 and P3 in Monza and splitting the Ferraris is not a bad situation at all so we are very much looking forward to the race tomorrow. This position is something we would have taken coming here, but we are all racers and of course we will aim for more on Sunday. We are in a good position, we have a good car, not the fastest on the straights, but there are options. We'll make sure we are ready for tomorrow and I know we're all looking forward to getting out there and scoring some solid points."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"We hoped we'd be in the fight for pole today but it's always frustrating when you miss out by such a small margin. However, we have seen recently that race pace often wins out overall and I think we have done a good job of setting up the car to work well on a long run. The morning was fairly straight-forward, our programme was compressed a bit with the delayed start, but we had a good session with both cars and got a good read on the balance ahead of qualifying. Qualifying was pretty straight-forward until the last run; no one wants to be the lead car, so everyone left it pretty late to leave the garages and ultimately almost no one managed to get a second lap in. We're determined to make Ferrari work hard tomorrow and hopefully we can prevent them getting into a position where they control the race. So long as we can put them under pressure, we can start to open up some real opportunity with the strategy and the first stint will tell us whether we have the pace to do that."
Verstappen knew he was starting from the back of the grid thanks to penalties for taking the latest Honda spec engine, but the Dutchman won't have been happy to lose power in Q1 and fail to set a lap time. Speaking of, while Albon did make Q3, he too failed to set a lap time. Red flags scuppered his first flying lap through no fault of his own, and then he was at the back of the squabbling pack second time around and thus missed the chequered flag.
Max Verstappen, 20th, No time set
“Qualifying didn’t exactly go to plan. I wanted to go out and do one lap to see how competitive we were in Q1, even though we are starting at the back because of the penalty, but out of Turn 2 I felt a loss of power and we chose to abort the lap. I’m not worried about the power unit for tomorrow as we haven’t seen problems in the race before and the upgrade seems to be working well in terms of performance as you could see from our times in FP3. In the dry it will be pretty tough tomorrow as the leaders should be able to pull away quickly in the first few laps and there are a lot of cars that look competitive around here. On a track where there aren’t many corners and the lap times are so similar it is harder to close that gap, but in the wet the differences are normally a bit bigger and then we can definitely move to the front. Rain tomorrow would give us a better chance but even in the dry we have a good race car so it should be fun and I’m aiming for the top five.”
Alex Albon, 8th, No time set in Q3
“Although I’m still learning what the car needs to be really quick, it felt good before the final run in Q3. I was fighting for P4 or P5 on the grid but then we got the red flag and the lap was compromised. On the second lap it was more of a priority for us to put in a good time but the guys who had already done a lap could afford to be a bit slower. Everyone came out too late because no one wanted to be in front as we all wanted the slip steam and that created a delay. These cars have quite a lot of drag so getting a tow can gain you an extra two or three tenths which you need to get up the field. I was trying to pass the other cars but because everyone was weaving down the straights to keep the tyre temperature up as we were going so slow, it got backed up and it became impossible to overtake. I realised by Turn 4 that it was going to be difficult to make it. When we all knew time was running out everyone suddenly picked up their pace, so we were almost flat out by the end of the lap. We should have taken less risk on the second run, but we were fighting for a top five position. It’s frustrating as getting a good position in qualifying would have made tomorrow’s race a lot easier but I had good pace yesterday so there is everything to fight for.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“Going into qualifying Max was always due to take a penalty so he only attempted one run in Q1 as per the plan, but he experienced a spike in revs on the kerb at Turn 2 which meant he felt a loss of power and as a precaution he aborted the lap. Alex progressed through Q1 without any issue and in Q2 he looked to have reasonable pace in the car. In Q3 Raikkonen spun causing a red flag during Alex’s first run while he was around half a second up on his previous best so he did not record a time. A bit of messing around from many drivers on the out lap of the final run in Q3 held everyone up meaning Alex was unable to record a lap which is frustrating as he had good pace in the car today.”
Renault looked quick all day so it was no surprise that they got both cars through to Q3. They looked seriously fast on the opening salvo, grabbing the third row with Ricciardo shading his team mate to P5 by two tenths. The team blinked first and sent Hulkenberg out at the head of the field on the second Q3 runs. Unfortunately, the German set off a bizarre chain of events after he straight-lined Turn 1, slowly navigating through the bollards as the pack also backed up to avoid having to overtake him and thus lose the tow... And the rest is history.
Nico Hulkenberg, 6th, 1:20.049
“I’m happy with the result, but it could have been a little better. It was okay, I lost some rhythm in Q2 with a lock-up at Turn 1, so I had to reset myself. The ending was clearly a bit extreme but the tow has a big impact here and it’s worth a couple of tenths, which you can’t make up in the corners. That’s why we had some games at the end. It was peculiar with all the cars bunched up. Our pace was clearly very strong today and we have to back it up with points on Sunday.”
Daniel Ricciardo, 5th, 1:19.839
“It was a great qualifying for the team, locking out the third row. We executed everything well today, and the result is a good reward for that. I had a good Q3 lap, and we’ve been a solid top six all weekend. Just like in Spa, we’ve been strong since the summer break and that’s pleasing. No one wanted to be first on the road at the end, everyone was side by side. It was a consequence of no one wanting to give their tow to everyone else. Still, fifth on the grid is really solid.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“We are very pleased with the result of our qualifying session. As in Spa, our car is working well here with fifth and sixth position a decent reward for our pace. Tomorrow is forecast to be a bit cooler and unsettled but we still expect a dry race; we’ll be ready for every condition. Our race pace from Friday’s practice session was good so we are looking forward to a strong race tomorrow and a decent points haul for both cars.”
Norris has grid penalties for tomorrow and thus bowed out of qualifying in Q2 after giving his team mate a rather handy tow. Roll on Q3 and Sainz was the only driver fully appreciative of the ticking clock situation, the Spaniard overtaking Stroll and setting off ahead of the field on his out-lap in order to make it across the line. Therefore he was the only driver who managed two flying laps, but couldn't improve on his second run and starts seventh.
Carlos Sainz, 7th, 1:20.455
“It was quite an eventful qualifying for everyone. A weird last run we aren’t used to seeing. Anyway, I think I managed to extract the maximum from the car and, as a team, we executed a very solid quali, so we should be happy with our overall performance today.
“P7 is a good starting position for tomorrow and it gives us a good fighting chance for the race and for points. The weather might play a big role, so we’ll be ready for different scenarios.”
Lando Norris, 14th, 1:21.068
“It’s been a reasonable day. I was already on the back foot from yesterday. Even in FP3, because I was still a bit more race-focused, when it comes to the qualifying laps, the more situations you can be in to prepare for that, the better.
“I feel what I did today was what I needed to do. I qualified ahead of Verstappen and ahead of Gasly, the two other drivers who have penalties. I also helped Carlos into Q3. Everything we could do, we did – so a good day.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“In Belgium, last weekend, we struggled on Friday and Saturday, so coming to Monza the aim was very much to improve our performance in low-downforce trim. Our specific targets for qualifying were to get Carlos into Q3, and ensure Lando could start the race tomorrow in front of Gasly and Verstappen – the two other cars with penalties. We achieved both targets, and yesterday in practice we saw good long-run pace, so we’re optimistic we can fight for good points.
“The performance in qualifying saw great teamwork from the drivers and the car crews, getting the cars out at precisely the right times in Q2, ensuring Carlos could benefit from Lando’s tow. Obviously Lando’s starting position is compromised by his PU penalties, but we’re here to fight and we’re very much looking forward to an exciting Italian Grand Prix.”
Giovinazzi missed out on the top 10 by a hair's breadth - in F1 terms, 0.002s. Ironically, it was his team mate who knocked the Italian into P11 but with free tyre choice, Giovinazzi could still be one to watch at his home race. As for the Finn, his Q3 was cut short as he lost the rear and slid off at the Parabolica, crashing heavily into the barriers. His Alfa now requires its second significant rebuild of the weekend, and it remains to be seen if he'll wind up with grid penalties.
Kimi Raikkonen, 10th, No time set in Q3
“I paid the price for my mistake which is a bit of a shame as the car was behaving pretty well. There is a lot of damage so we have to see where I’ll start tomorrow, but maybe the weather will help and in mixed conditions we can still get a good result. I’ll definitely try my best to make up ground in the race.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 11th, 1:20.517
“It was a bit frustrating to miss out on Q3 for just two thousandths. I lost a little bit of time in the second chicane because one car went out and put gravel on the track, but this is the price you pay when the field is so tight. We wanted more but we still have a decent opportunity to have a good race. We have to take the positives, we get to choose our starting tyres and I think it can be an advantage – assuming it doesn’t rain. We are just outside the Top 10 – if we have a good start and a good strategy we can be right in the fight for points.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“Mixed feelings after today’s qualifying session. The pace was there, the car was good and both drivers did a good job, but still it feels we could have achieved more. Antonio missed out on Q3 by a minimal margin and then Kimi crashed whilst he was on a strong lap. We will need to assess the damage on his car and then we’ll know whether this has consequences for tomorrow’s grid position.”
First the bad news - Perez suffered apparent engine issues for the second race weekend in a row, pulling over in Q1 and thus exiting qualifying at the first time of asking. That did mean Stroll out-qualified his team mate for the first time this season, and made Q3 for the first time this year to boot. The Canadian failed to set a lap time in the top 10 shootout.
Sergio Perez, 17th, 1:21.291
“It’s a big shame. We lost an opportunity today and we were not able to go through. I think it was something with the engine but I don’t know yet - I haven’t spoken with my engineers. I just lost power and had to stop the car. We’ll see what we’re able to do tomorrow. Hopefully we can minimise the damage and have a strong race to try and score points.”
Lance Stroll, 9th, No time set in Q3
“I’m happy to be back in Q3 because it’s been a little while. However, it’s a shame we couldn’t set a time at the end there. I think everyone underestimated the time to get to the line, everyone got greedy looking for the tow and in the end nobody got it! Hats off to Sainz: he judged it just right. I have some good memories of coming here [to Monza] over the years. It’s awesome to be behind the wheel of an F1 car on a high-speed track like this because you really get to feel the car working at its best. I’m hoping for some mixed conditions to spice things up tomorrow and to score some good points for the team.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“Lance did a great job to get into Q3. He wasn’t especially happy with the car in final practice, but we made some important changes ahead of qualifying and Lance drove some clean and tidy laps when it mattered. It’s a shame Sergio couldn’t join him in Q3 and the power unit issues need to be investigated and fully understood. It means Sergio will start at the back of the grid tomorrow, which is a bit frustrating. We are working with Mercedes to decide which power unit will be best to fit for the race.”
Gasly starts from the back of the field after taking Honda's latest spec engine. The Frenchman made Q2 in order to give his team mate the tow, but they couldn't co-ordinate their timings and thus the Russian exited in P13. The good news is free tyre choice for both, and the team do have a decent record here at their home race - especially if it rains.
Daniil Kvyat, 13th, 1:20.630
“Unfortunately, today wasn’t representative of our true pace. On the last lap in Q2 we caught quite a few cars and it became quite messy. I had a lot of traffic on my lap, where cars ahead were making mistakes and aborting their runs, and even coping with that, I still almost made it to Q3. It’s a shame because I think we had Q3 within reach and we just made our life more difficult. We tried something different but it didn’t work, so it’s a good lesson for the future. It’s not going to be easy but we will try as always to get into the points tomorrow. Our race pace didn’t look too bad yesterday and our package looks quite competitive here, so if we prepare well and have a race like we had in Spa we should hopefully be on for a good result, to make it up for today.”
Pierre Gasly, 15th, 1:21.125
“It’s been a positive Saturday for us. As we have the penalty this weekend, we focussed on the long run this morning, trying to get a good read with the car on high fuel. However, we decided to give it a go in Qualifying to see what we had. I felt really good in the car and we were quite competitive, finishing ninth-quickest at the time. In Q2 we fitted the used tyres from Q1 to get some laps in, as we knew we would start from the back of the grid. The car has been pretty good all weekend and we’ve shown good pace so, even with the penalty, I think we will have our chances in tomorrow’s race and I’m excited to see what we can do.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“The track conditions were slightly different compared to those we had yesterday, so we had to modify the setup to try and maintain the competitiveness we showed yesterday. We made several changes to the cars to adapt to the track, I think the FP3 performance shows that they were working well and the car was looking quite capable. We knew it would be tight to get into Q3, but there were signs it was possible if everything had gone to plan, although normally you would need a tow. Every session of today’s Qualifying was a challenge for every team. Particularly in Q3, trying to get a tow in the end cost eight cars, as they could not get a final lap because they were focussed on getting a slipstream. There were lots of cars on track in Q1 so it was difficult to get a good position, but we managed it, with both cars going through to Q2. Everything was going well but then we elected to deviate from the original plan trying to give Dany a bit of an extra hand to get into Q3. However, this didn’t work and we ended up P13, with Pierre P15. That was disappointing as I think Pierre had a car that could out-qualify Norris, and now we’ll start behind him on the grid, which is unfortunate. On the positive side, the car was showing good pace on the long runs so, even though we’re not starting where we wanted to be, let’s hope we will be able to repeat our strong performance from Spa last weekend.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director
“As always in Monza, qualifying was exciting and very close, with teams using slipstreaming tactics to gain lap time. Kvyat was unable to get further than Q2, not getting a clean lap. Even before the start of the weekend, we knew that Verstappen and Gasly would be starting from the back of the grid, in order to switch to our Spec 4 PU. Overtaking is not too difficult at this track, so we expect all four of our cars to have a strong race tomorrow.”
Grosjean exited in Q1 and lacking a team mate to provide a tow, Magnussen couldn't make it past Q2. With grid penalties to be taken by many of their rivals, both Haas boys will bump up the grid but it remains to be seen if they can get involved in the battle for the points. A chaotic race would help, so their mechanics might be doing a rain dance overnight...
Romain Grosjean, 16th, 1:20.784
“Very much disappointed not to make it through to Q2 today. The car was actually better than it had been in FP3 and in the corners I was fast. Just compared to Kevin (Magnussen) though we’re lacking a lot of top speed, I don’t know why, but it costs you a lot of lap time. My lap was good, I had a bit of traffic through turns 4 and 5, I probably lost a bit of time there, but every other corner I was fast. It’s just very disappointing not to have gained more in a straight line, I was using the slipstream as much as I could. We need to look into everything.”
Kevin Magnussen, 12th, 1:20.615
“It was about as good as it could be today, but Q3 was only about a tenth away, and you always feel like you could have taken that. I got out behind Albon, who was much quicker than me, so he pulled away and I only got a tow for half a lap – because then he was gone. That’s how it is. We got more-or-less everything out of it that we could. We’ve seen before that the car drops in race pace, but we can just hope it doesn’t do that tomorrow. Friday looked a little bit positive, so we hope that’s going to carry into tomorrow and be the same again. We’re not far from the points. If we have a decent race car we can go for it.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It’s not a big surprise that we qualified where we did after the earlier free practice sessions. We tried to set the car up so that in the race, we can race. Hopefully we can get that one done. Starting 12th and 14th is not fantastic, but it doesn’t mean that we’re out of the points in the race. We’ll focus on it and hopefully we can get it done.”
Russell out-qualified his team mate once more, to keep hold of his perfect record this season. The team did expect to struggle here and so it proved, although they will benefit when grid penalties are applied. Kubica scored the team's only point of the season in the wet-weather race in Germany, so they are another team who will hope for leaden skies tomorrow.
Robert Kubica, 19th, 1:22.356
"We knew it would not be an easy session for us, but that is how it is. The feeling up to qualifying in the car was not too bad, then in qualifying, the balance changed completely which was a bit disappointing to see. We have to see what the weather will do tomorrow and hope for the best."
George Russell, 18th, 1:21.800
"My first lap was very good, but my second run was a bit of a shame. I came out of Turn 5 and one of the cars ahead of me had gone off through the gravel and brought a load of it back on, so I had no grip at the next corner. However, it is positive that we were closer to the rest of the field than expected and I can be happy with qualifying, as I feel that we did quite a good job to maximise our package."
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer
"The improved weather this morning allowed all drivers to get some valuable experience on a dry and warm track. With most of Friday’s sessions declared wet, all drivers were permitted to keep one set of the Friday tyre allocation for use in FP3. We completed our final preparation for qualifying without issue, with both drivers assessing some small changes made to their respective set-ups overnight.
"In qualifying, the interruption to Q1 for the red flag led us to complete an additional run of a single timed lap at the end of the session. Robert was able to get a reasonably clear lap and set his best time of the session. Unfortunately for George, a car ahead ran wide and put some gravel on the track, which cost him enough time that he abandoned the lap. Fortunately, he had enjoyed a strong opening run and was able to set a good laptime early in the session.
"Conditions tomorrow could be a little mixed and this may give us an opportunity to benefit from the higher grid positions, which we will inherit after grid penalties are applied tonight."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"We experienced very different conditions today compared to what we saw yesterday, and the predictions are that the weather could change again tomorrow, making it a difficult weekend to manage from an engineering and tyre point of view, with the teams having to lock themselves into a dry or a wet set-up in advance. This undoubtedly had an effect in qualifying, together with yesterday's lack of running. Whether or not the teams go for the anticipated one-stopper depends largely on the weather. In particular, if it rains, the strategy will only be decided as the race unfolds. Whatever happens, our tyre selection here should enable drivers to push to the maximum throughout each stint. Congratulations to Charles Leclerc for his second pole position in two weeks."