Written by Maria Fashchevskaya, Edited by Marcus Woodhouse
An almighty roar surged through the crowd as the Ferrari drivers crossed the line to take the
chequered flag this afternoon—as qualifying at the Tifosi’s home race held a pole position for
Both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc managed to qualify in the top three to delight
their adoring fans as well. Beating reigning world champion Max Verstappen by only 0.013
seconds, Sainz will prepare himself for a start from the front at his team’s home Grand Prix,
gaining his first pole this season on his birthday weekend.
”Honestly, it's been such an intense qualifying, especially Q3. We all three went for it, all on
the limit,” said pole-sitter Carlos Sainz after qualifying. “Goosebumps since I crossed the
finish line, getting out of the car and seeing [the crowd] - it's incredible. It's the best feeling
you can have as a driver. Tomorrow, I'm going to hold on to that P1, I'm going to give it my
Q1: Woe for Alpine
While Sainz had started the day by topping the third Free Practice session in Italy, an
intriguing qualifying presented itself in the afternoon with the reintroduction of Pirelli’s
alternative tyre allocation, last seen at the Hungaroring.
It meant that all teams would have 11 and not 13 sets of tyres for qualifying: hard tyres for Q1, mediums for Q2 and soft tyres for the last ten drivers to drive in Q3.
Initially leading the grid at the start of Q1, Max Verstappen lost his time due to track limits at
Turn 7. Following that Alex Albon held the first position on the grid after an impressive lap a
couple of hundredths ahead of George Russell, Sergio Perez, Sainz, and rookie teammate
Logan Sargeant rounding out the top five.
Falling into the trap of track limits mid-Q1 - also at Turn 7 - were Oscar Piastri and Fernando
Alonso, while the Spaniard’s teammate Lance Stroll got penalised for exceeding the limits at
Turn 2, pushing him down into last position for Sunday’s race. Meanwhile, Verstappen was
setting a new best-time of 1m 21.573s, elevating him up and out of the drop zone.
Near the end of Q1, the news broke that the stewards would be looking into both Ferrari
drivers for a potential failure to follow the Race Director’s notes on maximum lap time.
However this transpired to be nothing more than a scare, as we found out no investigation
was necessary at the end of the session.
In the end it was Zhou Guanyu that couldn’t quite bridge the gap to Nico Hülkenberg, so the Chinese driver will start 16th on Sunday. Neither of the Alpines—Pierre Gasly nor Esteban
Ocon—managed to escape from Q1, set for 17th and 18th place on the grid respectively.
Ocon’s session deteriorated after he exited the Ascari chicane with a high-speed snap,
taking him through the gravel and forcing his team to check the floor back in the pits. A
disappointing day for Kevin Magnussen left him starting 19th, ahead of the struggling Stroll.
Q2: Promise for the Prancing Horse
For the second part of qualifying, 15 drivers returned to mediums to set new times. Carlos Sainz set the pace, as he initially went clear with a 1m 20.991s lap ahead of Verstappen, teammate Charles Leclerc, Albon and Pérez.
The most heated moments of the session materialised in the dying moments of Q2, when all the drivers were trying to get a lap in on the same part of the track. Nico Hulkenberg, Lewis Hamilton, Liam Lawson, Logan Sargeant, and Valtteri Bottas all needed improvements for any hope of Q3. While the seven-time World Champion was struggling with grip, he also
reported getting held up during his lap by Pérez.
Q2 ended with Verstappen leading the grid ahead of the two Ferraris and Pérez in fourth. Albon closed out the top five, just closely ahead of the other Mercedes-powered cars. McLaren driver Lando Norris finished the line-up for Q3, pushing AlphaTauri’s Tsunoda outside the top ten, one position ahead of his stand-in teammate Lawson.
“Overall, we’ve been progressing over the sessions, building up my confidence,” said Liam
Lawson after his second ever qualifying session in Formula One.
While learning more and more and becoming accustomed to the car, the AlphaTauri driver did not lose sight of the goal of getting points: “I’m happy to have made some improvements and I’m sure there’s more to come. It’s a good position to be starting in, and with both cars so close to each other, I’m positive about points for the team tomorrow.”
Haas driver Nico Hülkenberg could only manage 13th after the two AlphaTauris, while
Valtteri Bottas will take his place alongside the German on Sunday for Alfa Romeo. Williams’
Sargeant was the slowest of the session, and was clearly disappointed with his performance,
apologising to the team over the radio after the chequered flag was flown.
“I think I found three-tenths from my very first lap on the hard compound to my very last lap
on the medium, so disappointing to have that big of a swing between Q1 and Q2,” Sargeant
said afterwards. Ever the optimist, Sargeant added: “I’ll do my best. We haven’t had that many opportunities to do a proper long run yet this weekend.”
Q3: Dramatic Pole for Sainz
The top ten drivers got back on track with new, soft tyres to facilitate their bids for pole
position in the Italian Grand Prix. Accustomed to starting at the front this season, Max
Verstappen missed his chance in the first laps of Q3 after putting two wheels into the gravel
exiting the Variante della Roggia chicane.
It was Carlos Sainz that took an initial P1 with a 1m 20.532s time on the clock, ahead of
Leclerc and Verstappen. As all the drivers pitted mid-Q3 it caused no little chaos, as all the
drivers looked to return to the track in the last three minutes of qualifying.
As Q3 ended, the climax saw Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, and Carlos Sainz improve
their pace on the final laps. “Tell me we have it,” shouted the latter—Ferrari’s eventual pole-sitter for their home race—as he soared past the chequered flag with a time of 1m 20.294s.
Crossing the line for P4, George Russell ended his day with only three tenths to Sainz,
ahead of Pérez and Albon. The Williams driver expressed disappointed in his performance: “I felt like we did a good job, we executed it well. It was just not quite top five. I guess in some ways that was a bit of an aim. But let’s see tomorrow.”
Completing the top ten, Piastri and Norris will line up seventh and ninth on the grid
respectively. Hamilton will split the McLaren drivers on the grid, while Fernando Alonso takes tenth place to start.
The Italian Grand Prix will start at 14:00 BST (15:00 track time).