Q1 – De Vries surprises Latifi
After the first calm minutes, the session became lively on the track with an astonishing hierarchy: the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in the lead, as George Russell was demoted to half a second, the Red Bulls to almost eight tenths, just as Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton on almost a second!
Among the (smaller) teams, the Alpines, Alfa Romeos and AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly waited until the second half of the session to take to the track, so much so that we had to wait until the six-minute mark before the checkered flag to have a first hierarchy. Haas, Aston Martins and Valtteri Bottas were then in the red zone, with Nyck de Vries taking a promising 12th place just ahead of his teammate Nicholas Latifi. Daniel Ricciardo was in danger in 15th place. And meanwhile, Max Verstappen set the best time in 1’20.922, around four tenths ahead of the Ferraris.
There were many improvements at the end of the session and all eyes were on Williams: two hundredths was the difference between qualifying for De Vries and elimination for Latifi, the former having seen his last lap (four tenths faster) annulled for not respecting the track limits, the other had made a mistake on the first braking. It was Bottas who got his ticket to Q2 at the expense of the Canadian.
Eliminated in the 1st quarter : Latifi, Vettel, Stroll, Magnussen, Schumacher
Q2 – Ricciardo eliminates Ocon
The first lap of Q2, like that of the first stage, saw the Ferraris take the lead: Sainz ran in 1’20″878, ahead of Leclerc by more than three tenths (in his second attempt, the Monegasque was originally the one who made a mistake at first corner), Verstappen and Pérez. The Iberian and the Dutchman were the only drivers to have run on worn tyres. We found the Mercedes further back by more than eight tenths, while Bottas, De Vries, Zhou Guanyu, Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda (the latter without time, was sentenced to the back of the net) risked elimination.
De Vries had gone to improve in his last race, but he lost control in the Variante della Roggia. Among the drivers in danger, only Ricciardo managed to improve and even get out of the red zone, at the expense of Esteban Ocon. At the front, the hierarchy has not changed, the Ferraris and Red Bulls have stayed in the pits, while Hamilton put two wheels in the gravel at the exit of the Variante della Roggia.
Eliminated in the 2nd quarter : Ocon, Bottas, De Vries, Zhou, Tsunoda
Q3 – Leclerc wins
The battle for pole position was not really one this Saturday, with five penalty spots for the Red Bulls and a start at the back of the grid already secured for Sainz and Hamilton. The challenge for Ferrari was nonetheless to get in front of the Red Bulls to make them lose ground on this grid which was announced to be turned upside down.
The first race was again favorable for Ferrari, with Sainz in 1’20″584. The Spaniard was ahead of Leclerc by two tenths, Verstappen by three tenths and Pérez by eight tenths. Russell followed by a second with the slipstream from his team-mate then, much further back , the four drivers on worn tires: Norris, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Gasly Alonso did not run at the start of the session.
In the final moments it was Leclerc who took pole position on a regular basis with a 1’20″161, ahead of Verstappen in 1’20″306 and Sainz in 1’20″429. Pérez did not finish his lap as Mercedes turned the tables with Hamilton on fresh tires moving up just ahead of their partner, this time on worn tyres. Norris, Ricciardo, Gasly and Alonso completed the top 10, the latter two having seen their last (and unique as far as the Alpine driver is concerned) chrono removed for failure to adhere to track boundaries.
Italian Grand Prix – Qualification