Valtteri Bottas kept his P1 but will start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid due to engine penalties
By Yuri Coghe
Lewis Hamilton dropped from second to fifth in the Italian Grand Prix sprint qualifying on Saturday and also saw Max Verstappen extend his championship lead to fifth points.
Valtteri Bottas kept the P1 earned on Friday for the whole session but will start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid due to engine penalties – moving Verstappen to first and Hamilton to fourth.
“It feels like it’s been a while since I finished first in a race and unfortunately, you know, I’m starting from the back tomorrow, but the speed is there, so I’ll be fighting, I’ll be coming as high as I can tomorrow,” said Bottas after the session. “But today, I enjoyed it. It was a very clean race and we had a good pace.”
“That went better than expected,” said Verstappen. “We had a good start, and of course I’ll be starting from pole tomorrow. It’s going to be interesting.”
A poor start by the Briton allowed the McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly to move ahead.
The Frenchman crashed and retired moments later, however, after sustaining damage to his front wing on the first turn for clipping the back of Norris’ car. The accident caused a safety car to be deployed.
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Ricciardo, who moved ahead of Norris at the start, will start the Italian GP in second place – the first time the Australian driver will be on the front role since the 2018 Mexican GP.
“It’s been a long time to wait to be in this position,” said Ricciardo. “It’s good to be back.”
Hamilton tried to overtake Norris for the whole session but to no avail.
Charles Leclerc, sixth, also got the best out of his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz Jr., seventh. They’ll start in P5 and P6 on Sunday due to Bottas’ penalty.
Antonio Giovinazzi climbed from P10 to P8 while Sergio Perez kept his ninth place. Their positions will translate to seventh and eighth, respectively, in the grid.
Canadian Lance Stroll, tenth, and Fernando Alonso, eleventh, also gained positions from their initial P12 and P13, respectively, to cap off the grid’s top 10 after Bottas’ penalty. They are both ahead of their teammates, as Sebastian Vettel will start the race in P11 and Esteban Ocon in P12.
Nicholas Latifi will start in 13th, one position ahead of teammate George Russell.
Yuki Tsunoda, 15th, Nikita Mazepin, 16th, Robert Kubica, 17th and Mick Schumacher, 18th, will start ahead of Gasly, 19th, and Bottas, 20th.
The 2021 Italian Grand Prix is set for 9 AM E.T. on Sunday.
See the Italian GP sprint qualifying full results: