Carlos Sainz edged Max Verstappen to pole for the Italian Grand Prix, much to the delight of the onlooking Tifosi.
Charles Leclerc will line up in third as Ferrari look to utilise the home advantage to disrupt Verstappen’s dominant streak.
Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix played host to the second trial of Pirelli’s Alternative Tyre Allocation which mandates the use of the Hard tyre in Q1, Mediums for Q2 before those challenging for pole would switch to the Soft compound for Q3.
With a lap time deleted for Max Verstappen, it was the Williams of Alex Albon that headed the way after the first run in Q1. Team-mate Logan Sargeant also found himself in the top five, confirming that the optimism the team held was not misplaced.
Red Bull’s second runs saw both cars rise back to the top of the pack with Verstappen heading Perez by some three-tenths of a second.
The Red Bulls would not return to the track for a final run in Q1. Albon again jumped back into second, 0.088s off Verstappen’s benchmark as Sargeant again returned to the top five. Both Ferraris also demonstrated strong pace in Q1 but would face investigation from the stewards for allegedly exceeding the maximum out-lap time enforced by the FIA this weekend.
Eliminated from Q1 were Guanyu Zhou, Kevin Magnussen and Lance Stroll. Having struggled all weekend, both Alpines were also eliminated as Pierre Gasly qualified 17th and Esteban Ocon 18th.
Carlos Sainz headed the way as drivers returned to the track on the Medium compound for the first time in Q2. The Spaniard had looked strong throughout the weekend, topping both FP2 and FP3.
Lewis Hamilton was able to recover from a poor first effort to advance into Q3 with his final run despite a hold-up at the Parabolica. Lando Norris also managed to squeeze his way through into Q3 by 0.013s after being passed by several cars at the final corner before starting his final run.
Verstappen regained his advantage on his final run, but the Ferrari pairing of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz continued to threaten the Red Bull, and trailed by half-a-tenth.
Logan Sargeant was unable to maximise Williams’ strong package and was eliminated in 15th while teammate Albon continued to find himself fighting in the top five positions. Also eliminated from Q2 were Yuki Tsunoda, Liam Lawson, Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas.
Verstappen dipped a wheel in the gravel on his maiden Q3 run, handing the advantage to the Ferraris once more which was met by rapturous applause from the Tifosi. It was again Sainz who was the stronger of the two Ferrari drivers, edging Leclerc to provisional pole by 0.032s. But despite his brief encounter with the gravel ad Della Roggia, Verstappen was still just a tenth off the pace.
The fight for pole remained tight on the final run as purple sectors continued to exchange hands amongst the leading trio.
Leclerc jumped to provisional pole before being dislodged by Verstappen. The Tifosi got the last laugh though, as Carlos Sainz stole pole back from Verstappen by a mere 0.013s.
Much to the delight of the adoring Ferrari fans, the FIA confirmed that there would be no further action for the alleged breach of the maximum lap time for both Ferrari drivers in Q1. Sainz’s pole would stand, and he will receive support from Leclerc who will line up third on Sunday.
George Russell’s best effort was good enough for the second row, although a considerable margin off the pace of the top three.
Perez and Albon will occupy the third row ahead of Piastri, Hamilton, Norris and Alonso.