Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Monza, 2021

Bottas wins sprint qualifying race, Verstappen takes pole position

2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas led F1’s sprint qualifying race at Monza all the way and won – but Max Verstappen claimed pole position for the Italian Grand Prix.

Having topped yesterday’s qualifying session and started from pole position, Bottas led away comfortably at the start. Team mate Lewis Hamilton, who started alongside him, got away poorly, falling to fifth behind Verstappen and the two McLaren drivers.

While the Mercedes drivers and Verstappen selected the medium tyres to start on, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo favoured the softs, and ran behind Verstappen in the opening laps.

Pierre Gasly also came close to passing Hamilton, but touched Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren as they threaded their way through the Rettifilio for the first time, damaging his front wing. As they rounded the Curva Grande the wing folded under his front wing, sending him into the barrier, though he scrubbed off enough speed to avoid a heavy impact.

That prompted the appearance of the Safety Car to neutralise the field while Gasly’s car was recovered. It also allowed Robert Kubica to rejoin the back of the pack after he’d been knocked into a gravel trap at the Variante della Roggia by Yuki Tsunoda.

After the race resumed Bottas was never challenged by Verstappen and ran out an unchallenged winner. Verstappen behind him will be very satisfied with his second place, adding two points to his lead over Hamilton at the top of the championship standings, and claiming pole position following Bottas’ grid penalty for an engine change.

Ricciardo and Norris claimed third and fourth for McLaren, Hamilton never looking likely to pass either of the soft-shod cars ahead of him. The Ferrari drivers followed them home followed by Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo, who gained two places at the start and kept them.

Sergio Perez finished where he started after losing spots to Giovinazzi and Lance Stroll off the line. He managed to re-pass the Red Bull driver after going off the track and handing the position back. Race control expressed reservations Perez had timed the exchange of positions with Stroll in such a way as to ensure he could easily re-pass the Aston Martin driver, but decided against taking any action.

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2021 Italian Grand Prix

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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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28 comments on “Bottas wins sprint qualifying race, Verstappen takes pole position”

  1. So essentially the sprint cup is double qualifying with a good chance of going all the way to the back.

    Obviously the McLarens had orders not to race each other and stay in position to ensure they secure points over the Ferraris.

    Terrible start from Lewis but not as terrible as it could have been – he could have easily ended up in the rear.

  2. What a waste of everyone’s time this format is. 😤

    1. I agree.
      I was willing to give it a chance after Silverstone, but if it’s this dull at Monza….

      What a pointless waste of engine mileage, most likely making future races even more dull as the teams have to turn everything down.

    2. Yep……ridiculous

      1. @dougracing – Totally ridiculous form of qualifying.

        What seems remarkable is that Ross Brawn is really supporting this qualifying format, that lowers him in my estimation.

    3. It’s something I never wanted. Ever.

      1. Me neither

  3. So, you can “win” a Pole Position these days by coming 2nd in the qualifying and then 2nd in a Sprint Race. What a joke this has become.

    1. @amian

      Max was third in qualifying.

      1. Indeed, huh, that’s even worse. Oh man…

    2. @amian

      Sour words from a Mercedes fan. Mercedes opted to replace the engine here. What has that to do with the format of the sprint race?
      It’s a questionable format I agree but your comments do not make any sense. FYI I do not particularly support any driver.

    3. Ahah, good point.

    4. What’s your point? You could ‘win’ pole with normal qualifying in exactly the same way.
      If the fastest car has a grid penalty, second takes their place and everyone else moves up accordingly.

  4. Mercedes and Hamilton dropped the ball big time today. Again.

    I know that it’s just the sprint race and there’s a lot of race to unfold tomorrow, but it’s becoming a pattern during the whole season so far.

    The thing about Hamilton’s start could be debatable — if it was mechanical or just human error —, but if you look to Hamilton ‘s position behind Norris at the restart, it’s clear that that sparkle of aggressiveness on Hamilton is missing all season.

    Meanwhile, Max and Red Bull are really sharp, maximizing on track and strategically every little tiny opportunity to win this championship.

    If they win tomorrow, it’s over. And they really deserve it.

    1. @becken-lima I think Lewis was lucky not to end up at the back of the grid especially being sandwiched between 3 cars into Turn 1. He dodged a bullet today. He tried to see if he could overtake Norris but there was no point in throwing it all away today.

      It’s hilarious that accelerating from 0-200 km/h in 5.2 seconds can cost you 3 positions.

      So far, these sprint cups are working out great for Red Bull and Max. Then again, the luck may balance out and Verstappen may end up all the way to the rear. We’ll just have to wait and see.

      1. @freelittlebirds As the case was with the small regulation change after last year with the rear floor. That may have been straight advantage to Red Bull to catch Mercedes but it seems that Sprints are also working for Red Bulls or at least Max’s favor.

    2. It’s called a strategic own goal.
      Why they didn’t wait until after today’s sprint to make the change I will never understand.

    3. Just more shinanagans by the powers that be…..

  5. Not a good track for another double mistake by Mercedes; putting Bottas to the back when they most need him, and Hamilton’s mishap putting himself at a disadvantage for the Grand Prix and giving up two points to Verstappen here in the Mini Prix. Their superior pace should have made this a simple 1-2 win, and while Hamilton can still win tomorrow they’re making it needlessly difficult for themselves.

    1. @cashnotclass yeah, this could have a dramatic impact particularly on the WCC.

      It almost feels that Bottas picked the wrong time to shine:-) It’s crazy that getting pole and winning the sprint cup could end up being detrimental to the team. Bottas can’t catch a break… But ultimately it was the bad start that caused this, so it’s on Lewis.

  6. The qualifying label must go, but otherwise I’m okay with the new format for three events each year.

    Lewis should probably have easier time overtaking the McLarens tomorrow if they end up on the same tyres, which could see him fighting Max for the win.

  7. So, just a thought. Since Gasley will be at the back, can AT put in an brand new power unit set up?

  8. Props to Giovinazzi. That was solid.

    I bet Bottas takes heart from AR’s upturn.

  9. And that’s at least 2 race ending first corners from Gasly this year I believe.

    Really pulls down his rating.

    1. Still, he’s doing very well overall, surely perez’s mistake in some race, think imola, later on, where he was doing decently, then span and got no points, isn’t any better.

      1. Ops, spun*, seems span is archaic.

      2. @esploratore1 Sure, Perez’ rating is worse. Goes without saying.

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