Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hamilton Takes Pole in Monza in Session of Mercedes-Benz Supremacy

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer/Pirelli

The Italian Grand Prix is a storied stop on the Formula 1 tour. With the first-ever running of the auto race occurring in 1921, the race had only interrupted by World War Two. For all but five of the years as part of the modern Formula 1 sanctioning body, the Italian Grand Prix's home has been the Monza circuit. Autodromo di Monza currently takes place on an 11-turn, 5.793-kilometer (3.6-mile) road course for a 53-lap race in what is the last Western European round in the 2014 championship.

A low-downforce, high-speed circuit, Monza has confirmed a most-evident truth during the 2014 season. Under Formula 1's new gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain technical specifications, Mercedes-Benz engines have been the choice for fast competition laps. The factory team (Mercedes AMG) has been the major benefactor of the manufacturer's engineering heading into this season but customers Williams, McLaren and Force India have also found Mercedes-Benz power to be an advantage. Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix only magnified the struggle for Ferrari and Renault against the Mercedes-Benz juggernaut in 2014.

With qualifying times considerably faster than the Saturday morning practice session, Lewis Hamilton's 1-minute, 21.109-second lap time in Q3 was more than enough for the pole. Hamilton's top lap time was 0.274 seconds faster than teammate Nico Rosberg. Despite their continuing dominance in qualifying (winning all-but one pole position in the season so far) All is not well in the Mercedes AMG team. The stories of a deteriorating relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg reached a high point in the past race in Belgium. Rosberg making contact with Hamilton's car during the race was the most public display of the Mercedes AMG drivers' displeasure with each other. With both drivers competing for a drivers' championship, Mercedes AMG team principal Toto Wolff has warned his pilots that any similar follow-up incidents will not be tolerated by the team.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

Behind the Mercedes AMG cars on the front row, the next two rows on the grid for the 2014 Italian Grand Prix will start with customer Mercedes-Benz engines. Another pattern was the younger team pilots leading their more veteran teammates. Both Williams-Mercedes race cars will occupy the second row at the start of the race on Monza. Valtteri Bottas starts third while Felipe Massa scored a fourth fastest time in Q3. "To have both cars on the second row is a good starting point for the race. I am really happy with the qualifying lap and the car is set-up for the race so I am confident we can push the Mercedes, it’s just a question of how much can we push them.", said Bottas on the Williams team news release. The McLaren team has their pair of entries placed on the third row with Kevin Magnussen recording a 0.065-second advantage over Jenson Button. The only Mercedes-Benz powered team breaking from the trend was the Force India cars. Sergio Perez has qualified 10th while Nico Hulkenberg recorded a 12th fastest time in Q2.

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone Photographer/Pirelli

The best non-Mercedes team throughout the Italian Grand Prix practices came as a source of national pride. The Ferrari organization was led by Fernando Alonso in qualifying with a seventh place result in Q3. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen missed the cut for the third and final qualifying session and will start the Italian Grand Prix in 11th.

Red Bull Racing, the Renault-powered team that succeeded in being the only team to overcome Mercedes AMG for victory this season on three occasions, appeared mismatched in qualifying against the products of the German engine manufacturer. The only Renaults to break into Q3, Red Bull Racing was led by reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel in eighth place followed by Daniel Ricciardo in ninth. Knowing their one lap performance deficient through Friday practice, Renault Sport is looking towards to race pace and reliability as keys for a successful 53 laps at Monza.

With a sunny and warm weather forecast for the afternoon event, Pirelli predicts the race at Monza will be a one-stop affair for front-running teams. Race time for the 2014 Italian Grand Prix 2 pm local time or 8 am Eastern time.

2014 Formula 1
Italian Grand Prix 
Starting Grid

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
4 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
5 22 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes-Benz
6 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
7 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
8 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
9 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
10 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
11 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
12 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
14 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari
15 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
16 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault
17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
18 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault
19 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari
20 4 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari
21 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
22 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault

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