What the teams said – Qualifying in Italy
All the talk in the week before the race was whether removing ‘party’ engine modes from the equation would hamper Mercedes in qualifying. The simple answer was no. Hamilton and Bottas not only locked out the front row but they both broke the previous track record, with Hamilton’s eventual pole lap also the fastest in history at 164.267mph. The reigning world champion has never been out-qualified here in the turbo hybrid era by a team mate, and will be heavy favourite heading into the race.
Lewis Hamilton, 1st, 1:18.887
"It wasn't the easiest session because of how close it was out there, so it really demanded a clean lap and I got that on both of my Q3 attempts. I'm very happy with the laps I did and Valtteri was very, very close, pushing me hard. I made some big changes going into qualifying, so I was a little bit nervous before the session, but it all worked out well. A fantastic performance from the team today, particularly with the engine rule change. Hats off to everyone back at the factories, they've kept their heads down and this result is proof of the incredible work they do. I'm proud to be part of that chain and I'm excited to see what tomorrow will bring. It's going to be a fun battle."
Valtteri Bottas, 2nd, 1:18.956
"Of course, it's disappointing to miss out on pole, especially by such a small margin. My pace has been pretty good all weekend and it was really close out there, as I expected. It was tricky with the tow, as I chose to run first this weekend, so I didn't have any - except during Q2 where I did the fastest time. I was on my own in Q3, which wasn't a bad place to be because you have clean air in the corners but obviously you are not benefitting from the tow on the straights, and it's a difficult balance to find. Still, the laps were good and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. My race pace on Friday was matching Lewis and this track always provides opportunities, so it's up to me to take them. It's still all to play for."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"I'm very happy with our performance today. Both Lewis and Valtteri did a brilliant job throughout qualifying, but Lewis just had the edge in the end. It was an interesting session, with it being the first time that we qualified under the new Technical Directive restricting the engine modes. So, no party mode today, but the result showed that all the hard work at the factories has been paying off and puts us in a good position for tomorrow's race."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"Great laps by both drivers to lock out the front row again. The day has been fairly straight-forward, we were getting the drivers used to the minimum time for out laps imposed by the FIA in the morning and made a few small tweaks to the car balance. We'd done a bit of analysis yesterday on the effects of towing and for us, we seemed to be losing as much in the corners as we were gaining on the straights. Based on that, we decided to try and find some clean air to run in, which has the added benefit of simplifying your qualifying session. Our team has been very busy in Brixworth over the last two weeks preparing for the introduction of the single engine mode and they have done a good job of retaining competitive power in qualifying. The race tomorrow should be a one-stop for all. From Friday, it seemed that Max was closest to us on long-run pace. He's a few places back to start, but we know he races very well so it probably won't take him long to get through. Needless to say both of our drivers want to win tomorrow and with such a long run to Turn 1, the start is going to be really important."
McLaren looked quick in final practice, and carried that form into qualifying. Sainz always seemed to have the edge on his team mate today, taking calculated risks and gambling on his last flying lap to just pip Perez in the Racing Point to a brilliant third. The smallest of errors taking too much kerb in Sector One cost Norris, but he should get a tow at the start so will be one to watch down into the first corner.
Carlos Sainz, 3rd, 1:19.695
“Very happy with P3! A great effort from everyone in the garage and a positive day for the whole team. We knew we had decent pace to fight in Q3, but to qualify P3 behind both Mercedes in such a tight session is a great feeling! Another good lap straight out of the garage in Q1 meant I could take two fresh sets of Soft tyres into Q3. I gave it all in my last attempt of qualifying and managed to pull off a very good lap to clinch this P3. I’m aware the job isn’t done yet and the points are given out tomorrow. I hope we can have a clean race and that we can capitalise on today’s result.”
Lando Norris, 6th, 1:19.820
“A tough quali, just because it’s so tight between the midfield pack. The top two are gone, but between everyone else it was very tight and I made a few too many mistakes on my final push-lap, which cost me. There was nothing huge – it would’ve been half-a-tenth to a tenth – but that would’ve put me much higher up on the grid. Just a bit frustrated that such small things can cost so much, but that’s just the way it is with the midfield being so tight at the moment.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“P3 and P6 in qualifying at the ‘temple of speed’. Congratulations to the entire team here at Monza and back home, to our colleagues at Renault, and especially our two drivers for putting in this great performance today. Impressive final lap by Carlos.
“After good pace on Friday with the low-downforce Monza package, we continued to deliver strong performance today in FP3, and carried this momentum forward into qualifying. Our MCL35 looked very competitive over one lap, and we were fighting right up there at the front of the midfield. The points, however, are distributed tomorrow, and we expect a very tight battle against the teams we’re fighting in the Constructors’ Championship. Heads down now. We will prepare as always and aim for good points tomorrow.”
Having looked to have dropped back on their midfield rivals all the way through the weekend, the Pink Panthers sprung a surprise in qualifying, with Perez right up there in all three sessions. A fortuitous tow from Hamilton in Q1 meant his time was so good he didn’t have to come back out and could save an extra set of tyres for Q3, where he was narrowly denied third by the McLaren of Sainz. Stroll made a mistake on his first flying lap and was under pressure on the second, but should still be confident of some good points in the race despite starting a few places lower than his team mate.
Sergio Perez, 4th, 1:19.720
“The team has done a fantastic job today. We’ve worked so hard to improve the car in every session – and we’ve managed to secure a great starting position. We’ve focused on getting the car set up for the race, so I’m surprised with how competitive we were in qualifying. It’s always important to qualify well here – because overtaking isn’t easy – and P4 is a great starting position. We’ve taken some steps forward and I’m confident we can fight for a podium finish tomorrow. There’s been a lot of talk about engine modes, and it probably affected us a little in qualifying, but it should help our race pace tomorrow. I’m pleased for the team and impressed with how we’ve turned things around through the weekend. Now we can focus on getting a good result tomorrow.”
Lance Stroll, 8th, 1:20.049
“We made good progress with the car overnight and were more competitive than I expected, so I definitely feel like we could have started higher than P8. It wasn’t the cleanest qualifying session for me: I made a mistake on my first attempt in Q3, which compromised my lap. It’s always hard at Monza with the traffic and picking up a tow, but we can turn the page now and focus on tomorrow. It’s difficult to overtake, but with a strong start we can hopefully score some good points. I’m happy for Checo up in P4 and all credit to the team for their hard work improving the car this week.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“A strong showing this afternoon, which leaves me optimistic of scoring well tomorrow. Despite a challenging Friday, we took a step forward with the car overnight and both drivers were inside the top 10 in all the sessions. Lance wasn’t satisfied with his Q3 lap but, from P8 on the grid, I’m confident he can use his race pace to fight the cars ahead. Sergio’s P4 start represents his best starting position at Monza and gives us a great chance to race for a podium tomorrow.”
Their Friday was far from ideal, and neither driver looked totally at ease in FP3 either. Roll on qualifying and it did appear that the Bulls had a fight on their hands for those coveted second row grid slots and so it transpired, with Verstappen only managing fifth at the flag. Albon had an even harder time of it, with his flying lap time deleted in Q1, meaning he only just made it through. He did better in Q2, but exceeded track limits again in Q3 and wound up a discouraging ninth.
Max Verstappen, 5th, 1:19.795
“From our side we have not really had a good weekend so far and we seem to struggle to find the perfect balance with low downforce on the car. It becomes more difficult to hold on through the corners and we lack grip, which resulted in P5 today. You can say that we are slightly down on power but that is no excuse as there are other things we need to fine tune on a track like this and clearly we are also lacking a bit of pace through the corners. I tried everything I could, we tried all the wing levels that are possible to run at Monza but the end lap time was the same. In the race normally we are a bit more competitive and I think a podium is still possible tomorrow. It won’t be easy to overtake and we are all very close from P3 to P10 but I expect we can still fight for P3 and we won’t talk about Mercedes, they’re on another level. Monza is a very special type of track and when we go back to a more normal layout, I expect to see us back in P3 again.”
Alex Albon, 9th, 1:20.090
“As we expected it was another messy and hectic qualifying around here which made it difficult to do your lap just at the right time. Overall it has been a tricky weekend for us as a Team and we’re obviously disappointed with the result in qualifying today but personally speaking I’ve been happier with the car here. It’s been a smoother weekend for me and of course P9 doesn’t really show that but we’re a good step closer to Max and that’s positive. As a Team we’re further down than we want to be and coming here we knew it was going to be a difficult weekend as these low downforce types of circuit don’t suit us as well as they do the others just like we saw in Spa. The McLarens are very strong on the straights and the Racing Points also came from nowhere today but at the same time we hoped to have a bit more time in hand. There are a few corners which we just haven’t quite hooked up and so we’re losing time there compared to those around us but our race pace is a bit stronger and hopefully with tyre deg here we can do something tomorrow but we are not expecting an easy race.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“It was a pretty average qualifying for us and Mercedes are a long way ahead but a tenth or two thereafter makes a huge difference and we didn’t have the cleanest of runs, especially with Alex losing a few lap times. The car has not been particularly happy here and fifth for Max is a bit frustrating as it was so close to third but we didn’t expect to be fighting for pole. Meanwhile, Alex is only a couple of tenths behind Max but with such a tight pack that puts him in P9 so he’ll have work to do in tomorrow’s race. We have a bit to look at tonight but we know both of our drivers are good racers and they will be on the attack tomorrow which should make Turn 1 interesting. A track like this hasn’t been our strongest venue and so we’ll work on understanding and improving the areas we’re lacking in so that we can get the most possible out of tomorrow’s race.”
A mixed bag for Renault today. Ricciardo looked quick in FP3 before parking up out on track with a fuel pump issue. Luckily, it was an easy fix for the team, and he was able to take part in qualifying. A mistake on his final flying lap in Q2 nearly cost the Aussie but his team mate failing to improve meant Ricciardo made the top 10 and Ocon did not. Once there, the Honey Badger had to scrap around for a tow with no team mate for company, but P7 is still a good starting grid slot. Ocon will hope fresh tyres will make the difference from 12th.
Daniel Ricciardo, 7th, 1:19.864
“I’m feeling okay with seventh place as it was quite a good recovery through the session. We were a little behind in qualifying and we didn’t really show the speed of yesterday or even this morning. It was good to reach Q3 and to get seventh means we’re in amongst it on the grid and in a position where we can fight for positions. Our car in the race is strong, so I’m confident we can pick it up a bit and have a good one.”
Esteban Ocon, 12th, 1:20.234
“It wasn’t a great session from us today and there were things we could have done better. In Q2, I was improving and then I lost the slipstream with Daniel going off in front of me. It’s disappointing to miss out on Q3 by a small amount of time. It was hectic out there at times, but we knew it was going to be like that. Our performance was a bit down on what we thought, so we have a couple of things we need to sort. Tomorrow, our target is to score points.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“We have mixed feelings today with one car in the top 10 and the other just outside. It was a decent qualifying for Daniel, although, we hoped for a little bit more especially after the performance last weekend. Having said that, the times were incredibly close between a group of cars. Esteban suffered with traffic and out laps, as did a lot of other drivers. We know how finding a tow is important in Monza and there was a bit of cat and mouse out there. There’s no reason why both drivers can’t have a good race tomorrow and make up some positions. We remain optimistic and we’ll do the best we can on strategy to put both cars in the points.”
AlphaTauri had looked the surprise pick of the bunch for much of the weekend, but Kvyat struggled in Q2 and had to settle for the best of the rest slot of P11 and free tyre choice after missing out by one tenth of a second. Gasly though did make the top 10 shootout but struggled to improve with no team mate to provide a tow, and had to make do with what can be classed as a slightly disappointing – given their form so far - P10.
Pierre Gasly, 10th, 1:20.177
“I’m happy to make it to Q3 again. FP3 was a tricky session this morning, so we had to find a bit more pace for quali. We looked pretty strong in both Q1 and Q2, and in the end my lap put me into P6. However, my first run on new tyres in Q3 wasn’t great, I struggled a lot with oversteer and I was sliding a lot. On my second run, my lap on used tyres was good, but just not good enough to be ahead of the other guys on new tyres. It’s only P10 today, but it’s very close and I still think we have a strong package to have a good race tomorrow.”
Daniil Kvyat, 11th, 1:20.169
“Today quali became a game of slipstream, so you either got it right or you got it wrong. I was a bit unfortunate with Kevin as he just went off track in front of me, which caused me to lift a bit and I lost the slipstream. Still, starting from P11 gives us a good chance to fight for points and that’s what we’ll do. Everything’s there to play for.”
Claudio Balestri, Chief Engineer - Vehicle Performance
“After a very good Friday, this morning in FP3 we focused mainly on quali preparation, as it’s especially important in Monza. We used two sets of options and we showed quite a good performance, despite finishing the session only P12 and P13 on the timesheet.
“We went into qualifying aiming to make it to Q3 with both cars. We know that in Monza it is extremely important to get a good slipstream and we tried to benefit in the best possible way. In the end, we finished in P10 and P11, which is a shame because we believe that today, on this track, we had enough performance to enter with both cars in the top ten. Now we move our attention to race preparation, trying to optimise our strategy and score some more points.”
It has been well over three decades since Ferrari last failed to get a car into the top 10 at their home race but that was the fate that befell them today. Vettel’s involvement was short as he aborted his final flying lap in Q1 due to traffic to exit qualifying in 17th position. Leclerc at least saved the team’s blushes by making Q2 but could go no further at a track that the team expected to struggle at. Can the Scuderia pull something out of the bag tomorrow, or will it be a second race in a row that the team fail to score any points at?
Sebastian Vettel, 17th, 1:21.151
"There’s not much to say about this session. There were a lot of cars in front of me when I started my second quick lap. In that moment I knew it wouldn’t be possible to improve my time. I don't know why the other drivers started to overtake on the warm up lap. I found myself in the middle of the mess and didn't get a lap. Everybody should stay in the position they are in the line, then everybody opens a gap and it should be fine to set a time.
"From our side, probably we didn’t pick the right time to get back on track and some others managed to do better than us, as they improved. Of course starting from so far back on the grid means it will not be an easy race, but you never know what can happen and we will see what we can do."
Charles Leclerc, 13th, 1:20.273
"Coming into the weekend we expected it to be like this. We knew that Spa and here are probably the two worst tracks for us but this is our situation at the moment. It’s tough, because once you do a good lap and you end up P13 it doesn’t feel good. But for now I need to try and extract the maximum out of the car in the situation we are in.
"Of course, it hurts even more as this is our home race, but it’s the reality for us at present, unfortunately. We need to work and hopefully Mugello, which is still home soil for Ferrari, will be a bit better than here. Last weekend and here, we have been trying many things on the car, but we are not finding a solution. So we need to keep our head down, stay motivated, and I’m sure better days will come."
Laurent Mekies, Sporting Director
"The result is very disappointing but unfortunately, hardly surprising. As was the case in Spa a week ago, we knew that on tracks like these, with characteristics that highlight our car’s weaknesses, we would struggle. Now we and the drivers have to focus to be as well prepared as possible for tomorrow’s race, ready to make the most of any opportunity that could come our way. That’s for right now, but even more importantly, we must continue to work hard to improve the car for this season and the next."
Giovinazzi was keen for a strong performance at his home race, but exited in Q1 to remain the only driver yet to make the second part of qualifying this season. Raikkonen did make it through for just the second time this year, and managed to beat both Haas cars which is a small victory, although he did come close to collecting Ocon's Renault at one stage and did well to avoid making contact. At the team’s home race, can Alfa spring any surprises tomorrow?
Kimi Raikkonen, 14th, 1:20.926
“We can be happy with this result, even though I feel we could have been at least one place higher. On my first runs in Q1, the car balance felt really good, but in my last run with new tyres I had some understeer. In any case, we take this result and we fight from here: hopefully it’s going to be a bit easier starting this high. We knew Q1 was going to be messy and that being in the right place at the right time would be important: it’s not the first time it happened here and it definitely won’t be the last. It felt more like a race start than qualifying, but that’s how it goes. It’ll be interesting to see what the race holds for us: we struggled a bit on long runs yesterday, but the car made a step forward since so hopefully we can be stronger tomorrow. We will do our best and see where we end up.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 18th, 1:21.206
“It’s a disappointing result in a tough qualifying session. We knew it would be like this as the tow can make a massive difference: we tried our best but it was not enough. The final run is where you need to get your lap together, but unfortunately I got stuck in traffic at the end of Q1 and couldn’t improve my time: it’s not great but now our focus has to switch to tomorrow. Starting towards the back won’t be easy but we have to try; we did a few changes this morning to improve our race pace and hopefully this will help us with our performance.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“The predictions of a chaotic end of Q1 proved right, and what made the difference was finally the times set in the earlier runs. Kimi performed admirably, putting in a very good lap in his second run and booking a place in the top 15. In Q2, he didn’t feel as at ease with the car but to qualify 14th is still a good result, realistically the most we could have hoped for in these circumstances. Unfortunately, Antonio was caught up in traffic on his Q1 runs and couldn’t make any more progress: hopefully he will produce another good start as he has done recently and climb up a few places, so that we can fight with both cars for a place in the top 10.”
It was always going to be a tough ask for Haas today at such a high-speed track, but Magnussen making Q2 was a boon for the American outfit. Grosjean couldn’t join him there after making a mistake on his final run in Q1, but it was a good reward for the Dane who rolled the dice and went out first of the bunch at the start of the session, giving up the tow in exchange for fresh air.
Romain Grosjean, 16th, 1:21.139
“I’m disappointed as we’d made a change on the rear ride-height between final practice and qualifying – it didn’t work. I knew I could go through to Q2 today, but the change just made the car not great. Sadly, we’re out. As I said, it’s disappointing as I was convinced I could get to Q2 but instead I’m out in Q1. The race is usually a different story. Let’s see how it goes, hopefully the rear suspension will evolve and we’ll pick up some rear ride-height – that will help.”
Kevin Magnussen, 15th, 1:21.573
“I made a mistake and went off – I was on the limit. I knew that if I got a perfect lap in we could probably beat Raikkonen, so I tried to go for it. You have to give it a go but it didn’t work. We were either going to be 15th, or potentially 14th, we had nothing really to lose. It was good to get through to Q2 at least. P15 is one of the better qualifying results we’ve had this year, so we’ll take that. I’m hoping that we can do something tomorrow in the race, but I don’t think we really have the pace. It’ll have to be something out of the ordinary – so fingers crossed for that.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“At the moment, getting into Q2, it’s a good thing for us – we’re happy about that. Overall, the performance is still not where we want to be, but at least we’re going in the right direction. Both drivers did a good job, it’s just so tight to get out of Q1. So, we come away 15th and 16th on the grid. Kevin (Magnussen) tried to do the impossible when he got into Q2, which was to try and gain a few more spots. It didn’t work out, but he did the right thing, he tried hard – he could have been 14th on a good day. Hopefully tomorrow we can hold the pace of the other cars, put a good race in, and try and enjoy ourselves doing what we’re doing.”
Williams predicted they would struggle here and so it proved with their drivers propping up the field. Russell kept his qualifying run of never having been beaten by a team mate intact, but was left frustrated after feeling the team could have capitalised on the slipstream shenanigans during the messy out-laps.
George Russell, 19th, 1:21.587
"It was a frustrating session for all of us, especially in the moment. Looking back there wasn’t a huge amount more the team could have done, if they sent me a bit earlier or a bit later. We would still be in the same boat. It is just one of those Monza things unfortunately. Nevertheless, we have our eyes focused on tomorrow."
Nicholas Latifi, 20th, 1:21.717
"It was very tricky out there. We knew we were going to struggle coming to this track, which has proved to be the case. The closing speeds are very high, from when someone is pushing and when someone is not, everyone wants the tow at this track as it makes such a difference. My first lap wasn’t great, the second was better but still not perfect from my side and there was more time there on the table. Whether Q2 was realistic, it is difficult to say but we definitely could have been a bit quicker. Full focus is on tomorrow now and to see what we can get."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"As ever, the qualifying game in Monza for anyone without the quickest car is a cat and mouse game on the out-lap, and a competition to prepare the tyres correctly whilst also getting a tow from the cars ahead. We knew that we needed a good tow to help our laptime, and therefore had to embrace the game. When our cars left the pitlane for the final run, both were in good positions to capitalise. Nicholas was able to start his lap behind the Mercedes having had a clean out-lap, but George was less fortunate and got embroiled in a battle with a few other cars at Parabolica, eventually opening his lap very close to the Alfa Romeo. This compromised his lap very early and he had to abort, to his obvious frustration.
"Although we made good improvements to the car overnight and enjoyed a productive FP3 session, we simply weren’t quick enough at this circuit and this led us to push everything to its limits in pursuit of gaining some grid positions. In the end, we pushed some things too far, making today a very difficult and frustrating day for all of us.
"Tomorrow will be tough, but it is a long run to T1 and there could be opportunities to make some progress. We will refocus tonight and try to push the performance further tomorrow.
"Today was a day for learning and the experience of such a difficult session will ultimately stand us all in good stead in the future as we go forward together on our new journey."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"Everything went very smoothly from a tyre point of view. Tomorrow should be a one-stop race but there are different variations of one-stoppers that can be applied, opening several strategic possibilities. The top 10 will all start on the soft tyre tomorrow, levelling up the playing field, so it will be interesting to see how many drivers from P11 downwards decide to try something different by starting on the medium or hard in what are expected to be warm conditions. Mercedes was the only team to run the medium in qualifying, which otherwise featured the soft from start to finish, but the harder compounds are set to play an important role in the race. Once more, we saw another track record comprehensively broken this weekend – but this one is particularly significant, as it's on the fastest circuit of them all, and our home race".