Even the skies couldn’t stop Lewis Hamilton from achieving pole position and breaking the all time record number of pole positions in a thrilling rain soaked qualifying session at the 2017 Italian Grand Prix.
The start of the session saw heavy rainfall and low visibility that led to Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean to spin and hit the barriers at over 300kmph. This forced the race directors to red flag the event until the conditions improved. This, however, took longer than expected as the race directors deemed it too risky to continue racing. Many disgruntled spectators began to leave, expecting the qualifying session to be called off. It wasn’t until 4:40 p.m. local time that the qualifying continued, over two hours after the session started. For the dedicated fans that stayed, they were in for quite a show.
The weather had left the track very wet and slippery, and drivers opted for the full wet tires. It was soon apparent, however, that intermediate tires were the correct choice as the track quickly began to dry up on the racing line. A mistake in the latter part of the first session meant that Hamilton ended up in second place to his team mate Valtteri Bottas who was the last person to cross the line on an increasingly faster track. That didn’t last long, however, as Hamilton quickly began to show his true form in the second and third session. In the end, Hamilton ended up 2.3 seconds ahead of his teammate in the final session.
Ferrari were struggling to get temperatures into the tires, with both Raikkonen and Vettel way off the pace. Raikkonen even experienced cooling issues as his brakes caught fire as he went into the pits to change his tires. Ferrari couldn’t find the lap times in any of the qualifying sessions and ended up in a disappointing seventh and eighth respectively.
“I was surprised by how quick the others went,” Vettel told BBC Sport.
“It should be more fun starting a bit further back. We can make up a lot of ground, the car is quick and you can overtake here, so we should be OK. It should be a fun race.”
Canadian rookie driver Lance Stroll, just 18-years-old, showed an impressive drive as he managed to get his Williams into fourth place in the lap times. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also showed impressive form in the wet, placing his Red Bull in second place ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo in third. Due to a change of engines in both cars, both drivers will face a five place grid penalty meaning they will start the race in seventh and eighth respectively, just behind the two Ferraris. The penalty for the two Red Bull drivers means that Lance Stroll will start on the front row of the grid, the youngest driver ever to do so.
— Sky Sports F1???? (@SkySportsF1) 2 September 2017
It was Lewis Hamilton’s day, however, as he put together a stunning lap in the wet that was a full second ahead of second place man Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. The pole position marks Hamilton’s 69th pole in his 10 years of racing in Formula 1, overtaking the most decorated Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher, who has 68.
“I am so happy,” Hamilton told BBC Sport.
“To do this here in such a historic circuit and beautiful country, I am going to have some pasta tonight to celebrate.”
With just seven points separating Hamilton and Vettel in the driver’s championship and Vettel starting in 6th place, the 2017 Italian Grand Prix is gearing up to be one of the greatest races in a fantastic F1 season.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) 2 September 2017
A nice touch.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) 2 September 2017
[Featured Image by Mark Thompson/Getty Images]