Hamilton sets yet more records after securing 94th career pole at Monza

Lewis Hamilton continued his domination of the 2020 Formula One season by taking a 94th career pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, the reigning champion quickest ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and the outstanding Carlos Sainz.

The Englishman’s lap time of 1m18.887s was 0.069s ahead of Bottas, as Sainz pipped Racing Point’s Sergio Perez for third place on the second row, the Mexican ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. McLaren backed up an extremely positive showing at the ‘Temple of Speed’ with Lando Norris sixth fastest from Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault, as Lance Stroll, Alexander Albon and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten.

“It was not too bad. Fantastic performance from the team today,” said Hamilton after securing an incredible 7th pole performance at Monza. “In terms of timing, just when they put us out on the track. It wasn’t the easiest and really demanded a clean lap and I think I got that so I’m generally really happy with the laps I did and Valtteri was really, really close. Fortunately I made some changes going into qualifying, so I was a little bit nervous going in if it was the right thing to do, but it worked just fine.

“In the year’s I’ve done here, obviously I’ve done a lot, there are times I have had less downforce and less grip. I would say today there was quite a lot of grip out there. The speeds we were going through the Lesmos is pretty awesome, so you are moving around when you get to the low speed sections, Turns 1,2,3,4,5 certainly a little tricky just trying to gauge how much to attack, keeping the speed up and making sure you have the exit, because you have these long straights.”

Hamilton’s lap record was also the fastest qualifying lap in the history of F1, and with such huge speeds now generated by today’s modern cars comes inevitable risk, Kimi Raikkonen involved in a scary moment right behind the Renault of Esteban Ocon whilst in his slipstream, a double movement that could have ended in collision of catastrophic consequences.

Another driver to take big risks in order to guarantee the best possible result was the brave Spaniard Sainz, who afterwards admitted it was quite the hair-raising experience.

“Well honestly I’ve been feeling very strong since the start of qualifying, since Q1, managed to go through with just one set (of tyres)  with a strong lap and since then it was just chipping away and trying to put down a 19.6 on the board which I knew would have given me top 5,” said Sainz.

“That lap I nearly messed up, I had a big moment in Lesmo 1 and I nearly lost it but since then on I had to drive like this, and I’m actually shaking a little bit, because I had to really go for it and had a very strong final few corners. I really went for it, risked a lot and went for it paid off, and as you can see after the dive I did into Ascari, I was a bit like ‘Wow! That was way too late.’”

But it was another horrible outing for the Ferrari team, who may be thankful there are no fans at the famous Autodromo Nazionale di Monza circuit this weekend to witness this most alarming decline in form, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel starting from 13th and 17th on the grid respectively.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.