Shambolic. Bizarre. Silly. Just three of the words that have been used to describe the final two minutes of qualifying.
No one, bar Carlos Sainz, set a lap on the final run. Yes, that’s right, nine cars out of the top ten didn’t start their final flying lap before the chequered flag.
Everyone wants to be first in F1…
Unless it's qualifying at Monza pic.twitter.com/bBMfUte3Ew
— WTF1 (@wtf1official) September 7, 2019
Before we dive into the weirdness of Q3, let’s go back to the quieter Q1. Well, even that’s not entirely true as there was a red flag caused by Sergio Perez’s Racing Point stopping on the inside of Curva Grande, bringing the Mexican’s qualifying to a premature end.
Max Verstappen’s session didn’t go much better either. He was already scheduled to start from the back of the grid but he didn’t intend for his car to lose power. He didn’t set a lap time so was going to start from the back of the grid regardless.
We also said goodbye to Romain Grosjean, George Russell and Robert Kubica at the end of Q1. Russell apologised to his Williams team on the radio but there was not much more that he could give.
Despite the medium tyres only being six-tenths of a second slower than the soft tyres, neither Ferrari nor Mercedes used the medium tyres in Q2 and so will be starting on the faster soft tyres tomorrow.
Daniil Kvyat had requested a tow from his Toro Rosso teammate, Pierre Gasly, but problems with traffic meant that Kvyat could not take advantage of a tow, eliminating him from qualifying.
Antonio Giovinazzi just missed out on a place in the top ten shootout by two-thousandths of a second to his Alfa Romeo teammate, Kimi Raikkonen.
Kevin Magnussen and Lando Norris were also eliminated at the end of Q2. Norris failed to progress into Q3 because he was providing a tow to his teammate Carlos Sainz, who qualified seventh at the end of the day.
As it turned out, all of the lap times in Q3 were set in the first runs with Leclerc just getting ahead of the two Mercedes. Just 0.047 seconds separated Leclerc, Hamilton and Bottas.
Now to ‘the incident’.
None of the drivers were on track until just one minute and 40 seconds before the chequered flag. Nico Hulkenberg led the field out of the pit lane before locking up and going straight on at the chicane. You would expect Lance Stroll, who was next in lane, to carry on regardless.
He didn’t and bunched up the field coming out of the chicane, leading to the chaos seen through the Curva Grande. Nobody wanted to yield, nobody wanted to drive away, nobody wanted to give up the tow. As a result, nobody except Carlos Sainz set a final flying lap.
Therefore, rather anticlimactically, Charles Leclerc secured his fourth pole position in F1, his second in as many weeks. This gave Ferrari their 21st pole at Monza, extending their record as the team with the most poles at a single circuit.
Rain is forecasted for tomorrow’s race so that’ll definitely throw a spanner in the works. Also watch out for any changes to the grid as the stewards are investigating the debacle of the final minutes of qualifying.
There may also be grid penalties for Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen, who crashed rear-first into the barriers at the Parabolica, an accident which may have caused damage to the gearbox.
It all gets underway at 11:10 pm AEST tomorrow night.
1. Charles Leclerc: 1:19.307.
2. Lewis Hamilton: 1:19.346.
3. Valtteri Bottas: 1:19.354.
4. Sebastian Vettel: 1:19.457.
5. Daniel Ricciardo: 1:19.839.
6. Nico Hulkenberg: 1:20.049.
7. Carlos Sainz: 1:20.455.
8. Alexander Albon: no time.
9. Lance Stroll: no time.
10. Kimi Raikkonen: no time.
11. Antonio Giovinazzi: 1:20.517 (Q2).
12. Kevin Magnussen: 1:20.615 (Q2).
13. Daniil Kvyat: 1:20.630 (Q2).
14. Lando Norris: 1:21.068 (Q2).
15. Romain Grosjean: 1:20.784 (Q1).
16. Sergio Perez: 1:21.291 (Q1).
17. George Russell: 1:21.800 (Q1).
18. Robert Kubica: 1:22.356 (Q1).
19. Pierre Gasly: penalty.
20. Max Verstappen: penalty.