Home » Formula 1

Hamilton P1 At Monza

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 4 2016
Esteban Gutierrez of America's Haas F1 Team reached Q3 during qualifying at Monza. (File photo by LAT Photographic)

Esteban Gutierrez of America’s Haas F1 Team reached Q3 during qualifying at Monza. (File photo by LAT Photographic)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s Formula One Italian Grand Prix from pole position after pipping Mercedes AMG teammate/nemesis Nico Rosberg by 0.478-seconds during qualifying at Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

Hamilton toured the 3.6-mile/5.793-kilometer/11-turn circuit in 1 minute, 21.135-seconds to bag his 56th career pole, seventh this season and fifth at Monza. Row 2 will be occupied by Scuderia Ferrari teammates Sebastian Vettel in third and Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton’s fifth Italian Grand Prix pole is equaled only by five-time World Driving Champion Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina and three-time World Driving Champion Ayrton Senna of Brazil _ a point of unabashed pride for the 31-year-old Englishman.

“Obviously very happy today,” Hamilton said during the post-race press conference. “I was only made aware of that record as I came into this weekend, so of course that was in the back of my mind, but hoping that it wouldn’t steer me off-course. Yeah, I feel incredibly proud and honored to up amongst Senna and Juan Manuel, incredible drivers. I never in a million years thought my name would be mentioned in the same sentence as theirs, so very proud of that.

“But today, this weekend, a very strong feeling and obviously came with my A-game today and particularly that last lap felt incredible. It’s such a great track; it’s got such a great crowd. Big thank you to all the people that came out. But what this team has achieved, as race by race I continue to say, is just phenomenal. I’m so fortunate to be driving for this team, to be representing them and to drive a car as it was today; I got it right in the sweet spot and I was able to do an exceptional time with it.”

While Hamilton and Rosberg each has six victories this season, Lewis will take a nine point lead (232-223) into Sunday’s scheduled 53-lapper. Rosberg, seeking his first F1 championship, was typically stoic in summing up qualifying. “I think the best explanation is that he did some good laps and that’s it,” the German said, “because I’ve had a decent weekend until now and got some good laps in today but just not quick enough.

What’s in my mind is just tomorrow’s race. Starting from second is a great opportunity. It would be awesome for me to have a great result here in Italy, because it’s a special place for me and I feel a little bit Italian myself in many ways, so it’s great to race here and I would love to have a great result.”

Meanwhile, the American-owned Haas F1 Team realized another first-year milestone when Esteban Gutierrez advanced into Q3 via a lap of 1:22.856-seconds, seventh-fastest time among the top-10. Despite the rear of his No. 21 Haas VF-16 stepping-out as he rounded the second Lesmo (Turn 4) during his qualifying lap, Gutiérrez ended the final round of knockout qualifying in 10th with a fast lap of 1:23.184-seconds.

“First of all, I have to say ‘thank you’ to the team,” said Gutierrez, who ran the session on Pirelli’s red super soft tires. “I’m very grateful and proud of them because everybody has done a great job in achieving the consistency that has allowed us to work on the details that make the difference.

“In qualifying, for the first time we broke the top-10 barrier by getting into Q3. It was an amazing effort from everyone involved in setting up the car throughout the weekend and having the communication and level of understanding to make it work. The laps were fantastic. I really enjoyed them and I loved pushing the car. Today we have extracted the maximum from our opportunities and we have to make sure we do the same tomorrow.”

Team Principal Guenther Steiner saluted the Mexican for checking another box off Team Chairman Gene Haas’ globetrotting to-do list. “Esteban did a fantastic job today,” Steiner said. “He’s been on it the whole weekend. We ended up 10th in Q3. We always said we wanted to get into Q3, and we’ve done that now. We need to try to do it again and again, and get better at it.”

Romain Grosjean, Gutierrez’s teammate, saw his day go awry 12 minutes into FP3 when he spun his No. 8 Haas VF-16 while powering through the Ascari Chicane. No contact was made with the wall, but the car ended up beached in the gravel trap, bringing out the virtual safety car. With Ascari being on the other side of the racetrack, Grosjean’s session was over.

Track marshals delivered the Frenchman’s car back to the Haas F1 garage at the end of FP3. An inspection of the car revealed its gearbox had been damaged. A gearbox change was necessary, docking Grosjean with a five-place grid penalty for the start of the race.

In the eight grand prixs prior to Monza, the American outfit had placed both cars in Q2. In recent weeks the teammates had been knocking on the door of Q3 with five 11th-place qualifying efforts _ three by Grosjean and two by Gutiérrez. In Q1 on Saturday, Gutiérrez logged a 1:23.386 and Grosjean clocked a 1:23.421 to place ninth and 10th, respectively. Comfortably among the top-16, the duo sailed into Q2, where only the top-10 advance into Q3. That’s when Gutierrez posted his 1:22.856-second lap for seventh; Grosjean’s lap  of 1:23.092 wound up as 12th-quickest.

“It was obviously disappointing to go into qualifying knowing I had the five-place grid penalty,” Grosjean said. “We paid the price there that we didn’t have any running time this morning. I’m not very happy with qualifying. It’s great for Esteban to be out there in Q3. It’s great for the team. For me, I really struggled in qualifying to get the best from the car. With the tire pressures so high, it means you cannot push very hard. It’s a bit of a shame. We’ll see what we can achieve tomorrow in the race, but starting 17th is not ideal.”

The team headed by Haas, founder of Haas Automation, is the first American-based organization to compete in F1 in 30 years. Haas F1 Team is based at the same Kannapolis, N.C., campus as Stewart-Haas Racing, multiple champions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Hamilton, the three-time/reigning World Champion and winner of 49 races, now is poised for a third consecutive victory at Monza’s famed “Temple of Speed” _ a feat solely achieved by Fangio during the 1950s. Only Ferrari’s Vettel _ a four-time World Champion _ and Raikkonen, the 2007 World Champion, were able to draw within a second of the Silver Arrows teammates on Saturday.  

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas (1:22.388-seconds) out-paced the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo (1:22.389) and Max Verstappen (1:22.411) and the Force Indias of Sergio Perez (1:22.814) and Nico Hulkenberg (1:22.836), with Haas’ Gutierrez completing the top-10.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 4 2016
No Comment