Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Monza, 2021

Bottas beats Hamilton to pole for Monza sprint qualifying race

2021 Italian Grand Prix qualifying

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Valtteri Bottas will start the Italian Grand Prix sprint qualifying race from pole position after overhauling team mate Lewis Hamilton with his final lap of Friday qualifying.

Max Verstappen will line up behind the pair after a superb lap at the beginning of Q3.

Q1

Before qualifying drivers were advised to keep their speed up in between flying laps to avoid the hazard of delaying rivals on their flying laps. “Drivers must stay below the maximum time set by the FIA between the Safety Car lines,” they were instructed ahead of the commencement of Friday’s regular qualifying ahead of Saturday’s sprint race.

Despite that, several drivers had near-misses with slower cars. The stewards noted two incidents for later review, both involving Nikita Mazepin. One, a potential unsafe release from his garage involving Charles Leclerc, was dismissed, but the stewards chose to investigate an on-track incident between the Haas driver and Kubica.

The Ferrari driver had other problems. After he and Carlos Sainz Jnr were the first drivers to join the track when the session began, he reported a problem with his SF21.

“Is everything fine with the car?” he asked. “With engine braking especially.” After he was told to pit Leclerc asked again – “there is something, right, something felt wrong” – and was told an explanation would come back in the garage, away from the microphones.

The final flurry of laps originally seemed to bring disappointment for George Russell in his first qualifying session after being announced as a 2022 Mercedes driver. A late improvement by Fernando Alonso initially left the Williams driver in the drop zone.

However the stewards deleted Yuki Tsunoda’s final lap time for a track limits infringement, plunging the AlphaTauri driver into the bottom five and out, to Russell’s benefit. The Haas drivers dropped out as usual, but Mick Schumacher took advantage of Robert Kubica’s unfamiliarity with his car to put a car between him and his team mate.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’21.925
17Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’21.973
18Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’22.248
19Robert KubicaAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’22.530
20Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’22.716

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Q2

There was another, potentially more serious near-miss in the pits as the drivers emerged virtually at once for their final runs in Q2. The Aston Martin drivers drove into the fast lane as Lewis Hamilton was passing by, which got far too close for comfort for one team member who was standing between the cars. The stewards announced the incident would be investigated.

The Mercedes pair continued to set the pace, while Lando Norris moved up to third with his final run. Verstappen, whose first run wasn’t strong, moved up to fourth by the end of proceedings.

But team mate Sergio Perez, who helped Verstappen out with a tow, only made the cut by three-hundredths of a second. Vettel, the first to be eliminated, reckoned he was close to making it. “I’m sorry, I think I had a bit in turn six, maybe I took it a bit too easy for the traffic,” he told his team. “Not much, maybe a couple of hundredths.”

The Alpine pair dropped out as well along with Russell. However Antonio Giovinazzi impressed again, progressing into Q3 for the third time this season at his home race.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’20.913
12Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’21.020
13Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’21.069
14Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’21.103
15George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’21.392

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Q3

Verstappen produced a superb lap at the start of Q3 – aided again by his team mate – to shrink the gap to Hamilton. The Mercedes driver wasn’t able to recreate his Q2 pace immediately, and Verstappen lapped just 17 thousandths of a second off his time.

With Bottas losing out to the McLaren drivers, Mercedes went into the final runs in a weakened position. However Bottas produced a superb drive with his final lap, eking out almost a tenth of a second over Hamilton to grab pole position.

Verstappen could find no more time after his superb first run, and the gap between him and the Mercedes drivers opened up to almost four-tenths of a second. The McLaren drivers fell fractionally short of beating him – less than three-hundredths of a second covering the trio.

Pierre Gasly claimed sixth ahead of the Ferrari drivers. Charles Leclerc took eighth despite wrestling with his car problems throughout the session. Perez could only managed ninth ahead of Giovinazzi.

Top ten in Q3

1Valtteri BottasMercedes1’19.555
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’19.651
3Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’19.966
4Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’19.989
5Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’19.995
6Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’20.260
7Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’20.462
8Charles LeclercFerrari1’20.510
9Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’20.611
10Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’20.808

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2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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56 comments on “Bottas beats Hamilton to pole for Monza sprint qualifying race”

  1. Bottas to Toto :
    “Not bad for a wingman :p “

    1. Toto to Bottas: Let Lewis pass

      1. Bottas wins the sprint race: “james, it’s valtteri!”.

        1. We’re changing your engine to send you to the back. It’s all good for the “team”

  2. So remind me, was this qualifying? Or is that tmrw? Does it matter?

    Stupid system.

    1. harsh vardhan harsh vardhan
      11th September 2021, 2:46

      Qualification for Qualification lol

      Reply moderated
  3. Perhaps it’s just that Red Bull have never done well at this track but they never looked like they had the pace of either Mercedes at any point. This looked like last year where there was no competition really except for that between the two Mercs, so I’d imagine this race is going to be unfortunate for the championship.

    Also worrying for the rest of the season as if Mercedes carry this advantage for the rest of the year it’s game over for Verstappen & Red Bull.

    1. How quickly you forget that just last week RedBull had a much bigger advantage than this. Max is still the huge favourite for this years championship. Relax.

      1. Also, I saw Max explain on TV that they were at the absolut limit of what they could take off the car in terms of downforce before the car would become more or less undriveable —which may, for this occasion, explain the big difference with Perez, with the latter having more difficulty in dealing with a less stable car. This embedded downforce plays into their hands on other circuits, but here it was a limiting factor in quali. The race will be a bit closer probably. So I guess it’s about damage control here and an open fight in further races. Can’t wait!

        1. Thanks for this. I was wondering why Red bull didn’t just take off more downforce.

          1. Looking all cars.. the monza styled rear wings are already awkward..
            Now it only option to remove it completely in monza :p

      2. A much bigger advantage? 0.05 is bigger than 0.4?

      3. Actually, it wasn’t red bull having an advantage.
        It was Verstappen.
        It makes ALL the difference.

    2. this race is going to be unfortunate for the championship

      Bad for Verstappen and not for championship. You seem to think both are same. Looks like the pendulum swung back to the Mercs this weekend and there’s no guarantee that it’ll stay with them for rest of the season. If anything, this is good for the championship.

  4. Opting for the blunt ‘yeah but this is actually qualifying, though.’ Bottas pole, sprint race is tomorrow. Sort it out before this becomes a very awkward era to look back on, FOM.

  5. Q1 was a mess. How can everyone be that lost? Good thing collisions didn’t happen.

    1. 20 cars, on a short lap, on a relatively narrow track, all needing a certain amount of spacing from the car in front of them due to dirty air. It’s really not that hard to see why “everyone can be that lost” and it’s not like we haven’t seen it for years. Maybe this is resolved next year with the new cars being able to be closer to the cars in front of them, but I’d imagine not.

      Honestly, all F1 have had to do (for years now) is introduce a 1-lap-qualifying in reverse championship standing order like we had before in the early 00s, specifically for this track, Monaco, Baku, maybe Zandvoort. So everyone gets a fair shot without shenanigans.

      1. on a short lap,

        5.7km is one of the longest tracks on the calendar..

  6. Well done Valtteri! And people say you’re not allowed to race or are too slow…

    1. Meanwhile at Red Bull, Perez is made the sacrificial lamb yet again. Tow anyone?

    2. He is just useless most of the time apart from being Hamilton’s wingman and destroying other people’s races. Today he just took the most meaningless pole of the season. He won’t be missed at the front of the grid.

      1. @tifoso1989
        Here we are.
        Ferrari’s poisonous tifosis back h@ting again.

        1. Yet if tomorrow Bottas opens the door for Lewis as soon as possible and blocks Verstappen, you will know @tifoso1989 would have been right all along.

          1. @omarr-pepper
            Great to have you back here ! It’s been a long time that I didn’t see you commenting. Hope you’re doing just fine.

          2. @tifoso1989 thanks. Tbh as soon as they changed from F1F to Race fans, something changed. I feel it’s the way they edit the content, or the clicbkait, or the bias to avoid criticism to certain someone, that has put me off this page. I still visit it often though.

        2. Here we are.
          Take a chill pill.

    3. Yeah – can’t wait to see him race Hamilton for the win on Sunday.

  7. Maybe RBR should hire Bottas.

    1. Yes, although on paper perez should’ve been at least bottas level, so maybe there’s something that is difficult about driving a red bull to the limit, if that’s the case you need a super talented and experienced driver like alonso, don’t know who else they can take to get 2 performing drivers.

      1. On paper Perez was no where near Bottas’s level given the formers decade of midfield mediocrity. Hardly a surprise when scrutiny is applied.

        1. Was bottas considered better? I seem to remember he couldn’t beat massa decisively, they both seemed good midfield drivers, but when given a top team, the difference seems big.

          1. We could measure it by the number of times sacked by an F1 team I suppose. Perez has been “let go” twice already. Bottas once by the end of this season!

  8. Stunning lap from Valtteri and edging out the great Hamilton is a superb way to answer his critics.

    Red Bull has done an excellent job of damage limitation, but the fact that Verstappen got a double tow from the sister Red Bull as well as the Alpha Tauri, reeks. I understand why Red Bull did it; they were on the back foot all day and Gasly’s once again excellent performance gave them this opportunity. But: in no other sport two teams would be allowed to co-operate in this fashion.

    I find it remarkable that there is no shortage of unfounded insinuations about the presumed might and influence of Mercedes, but the soft drinks company once again gets away with blatant inter-teamwork on track.

    Reply moderated
  9. Bottas had a new power unit which must be worth a few tenths around Monza.

    1. @bennyh1
      The great Sir Hamilton excuse book, which page?

  10. 4 tenths to the nearest car is a lot. Verstappen lucky not to be swallowed by the McLarens, but likely will in qualifying.

    1. Yeah I suspect at least Lando will get past max during the qualifying race non-race tmw

      1. @ryanoceros @balue

        Yeah, but shouldn’t Max receive a grid penalty for overtaking in pit exit/crossing the pit-exit line…?

        More penalties for Leclerc, Norris, Vettel, and Stroll should be given as well I’m afraid.

  11. Don’t worry, mister Wolff dealt with this “problem” promptly. He dared go for the fastest lap after unnecessary pit stop. That we could almost forgive him. But imagine, he dared to qualify, to do a fast lap in Q3? This time we swap the engine, if he behaves he won’t start the race on wet tires.

    1. Ahah, wet tyres even.

  12. If only he had the balls to fight for the win now that he has been fired.

    1. Never say never, remember when a certain finnish driver was fired at monza in 2018, and then put in one of the best races of the season.

  13. It’s starting to become quite embarrassing for Lewis.
    Smashed by Verstappen on a weekly basis and now defeated by his newly fired teammate.
    Russell next season.
    His F1career is going to end BAD.

    1. Actually I don’t see how hamilton didn’t see it coming, so I’m surprised he renewed his contract, he doesn’t seem afraid to go against these new quick drivers.

    2. Yeh he must be so embarrassed to be on the front row by less than a tenth of a second. It’s so bizarre that to acknowledge Lewis is a great driver holds him to the standard that he should be on pole at every round. I don’t think his career can end badly. He’ll retire with over 100 poles and wins and at least equal record of championships. Not much more he can achieve.

    3. Bottas took pole at 5 races for each of the last two seasons and Hamilton won the championships. I don’t think starting behind his teammate for two races in 2021 signals the end of his career.

    4. I’d be embarrassed to be GOAT too. It must really suck.

    5. Why are you continually trying to provoke a fight by abusing other posters, from the abuse you’ve been throwing at Ferrari fans for simply supporting their team to this sort of obvious troll bait.

      You’ve been going out and actively harassing fans of other teams for seemingly no reason other than trying to get them to retaliate against you – why are you engaging in this sort of toxic behaviour?

      1. He seriously can’t take a chill pill, and if he doesn’t take one, I won’t mind doing a diss track.

      2. Also to this day he still can’t take a chill pill over people mocking the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix name. “Pirelli Gran Premio d’Italia” is a much better Grand Prix name by 100%. Don’t change my mind and don’t make me kill him again.

      3. One last thing: It’s the same b—–d who said Grosjean won’t be missed because of that horrible crash – Glad Romain is alive. It’s the same unchill person who keeps attacking another site member constantly. It’s the same provoker who can’t take a chill pill. It’s the same w—-r who got infuriated over people mocking the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix name. Yeah, that’s my killshot.

  14. “Valtteri, you had one job to do – not to beat Lewis”
    Courtesy of a certain TV commentator…

    Reply moderated
    1. Wait, is that surname connected with the psychopath? Hmm…

  15. So is the Sunday race grid set by qualifying results?

  16. Another kill out of 100+ kills confirmed in the books.

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