Come hell or high wa­ter at Monza, Lewis breaks record

Sunday Times - - SPORT -

Lewis Hamil­ton broke Michael Schu­macher’s record of all-time pole po­si­tions by se­cur­ing his 69th with a dev­as­tat­ing lap in the final sec­onds of yesterday’s rain-hit qual­i­fy­ing for the Ital­ian Grand Prix.

The 32-year-old Bri­ton steered his Mercedes through treach­er­ous con­di­tions with pa­tience, pre­ci­sion and courage to de­liver a best lap in one minute and 34.660 sec­onds.

In a dra­matic final third qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion (Q3), he out­paced near­est rival Max Ver­stap­pen of Red Bull in teem­ing rain to claim his sixth pole at Monza and his fourth in suc­ces­sion. His lap in 1:35.554 on full wet tyres was the quick­est in Q3.

He had shared Schu­macher’s record of 68 af­ter tak­ing pole in last Sun­day’s Bel­gian Grand Prix to set up vic­tory and the record.

“To do this here at such an his­toric cir­cuit, I am go­ing to have some pasta tonight [yesterday] to cel­e­brate,” said Hamil­ton. “Sixty-nine poles — I just can’t be­lieve it.”

“Firstly, Italy, I love you — even though we are in Ferrari’s home­land I ap­pre­ci­ate all the sup­port,” he added.

Ver­stap­pen’s team­mate Daniel Ric­cia­rdo was third ahead of Canadian rookie Lance Stroll of Wil­liams, French rookie Este­ban Ocon of Force In­dia and Finn Valt­teri Bot­tas, who was sixth in the sec­ond Mercedes.

With the two Red Bulls hit by ma­jor grid penal­ties for tak­ing new en­gine com­po­nents, Stroll will start to­day’s race, fore­cast to take place in dry con­di­tions, from sec­ond on the grid along­side Hamil­ton.

In a dra­matic fi­nale to a ses­sion that ended nearly three hours later than ex­pected af­ter a long de­lay due to heavy rain, the Fer­raris of Kimi Raikko­nen and cham­pi­onship leader Se­bas­tian Vet­tel ended up in dis­ap­point­ing sev­enth and eight po­si­tions on their team’s 70th an­niver­sary.

“I have no idea what the prob­lem was,” said Vet­tel, who will start from sixth. “I was sur­prised by how quick the oth­ers went.

“At this stage we don’t know why. It was an im­por­tant day, but it is what it is and we will see how it goes to­mor­row [to­day].”

Brazil­ian Felipe Massa was ninth in the sec­ond Wil­liams and Bel­gian Stof­fel Van­doorne 10th for McLaren.

The ses­sion ended nearly four hours af­ter it had be­gun with a cur­tailed Q1 brought to an early red-flagged halt when French­man Ro­main Gros­jean aqua­planed and crashed in his Haas.

The qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion con­cluded with Kevin Mag­nussen and Jolyon Palmer join­ing both Saubers in be­ing elim­i­nated, along with the luck­less Gros­jean.

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