Sunday, September 4, 2016

Lewis Hamilton Is Primo In Italy With Monza Pole

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

The 2016 Formula 1 series presses into second race of two consecutive weekends at historic European race circuits as 22 drivers and cars prepare for this Sunday's Italian Grand Prix. Known for high speeds and low downforce, the current Autodromo Nazionale di Monza course is a 5.793-kilometer, 11-turn challenge tests race cars as well as the physical and mental endurance of drivers. Appearing uninterrupted as the host track for the Italian Grand Prix since 1981, the Monza track's continuous presence on the Formula 1 calendar is second only to the Monte Carlo road course hosting the Monaco Grand Prix.

Following last weekend's eventful grand prix in Belgium, all the drivers have returned to their cockpits including Renault's Kevin Magnussen. Another aspect of the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix was also a dominant outing for Nico Rosberg who drove his Mercedes AMG race car from the pole position to the win allowing the German to gain 10 points and pull within 9 points of current Formula 1 Drivers' points leader and teammate Lewis Hamilton. Ahead of the 53-lap main event at Monza, Hamilton has taken the first measure to alter the trend of the previous race by taking pole.

On a hot, Italian track where ambient temperatures exceeded 30 degrees Celsius, Lewis Hamilton reversed his luck of a last place starting spot in Belgium with the first-place position after Italian Grand Prix qualifying. With a 1-minute, 21.135-second top time in Q3, Hamilton his 56th career Formula 1 pole and tied Ayrton Senna for all-time poles by a single driver at Monza with a fifth successful effort. The Brit enters the Italian Grand Prix as the defending winner of the previous two events. Hamilton will be joined on the front row by his Mercedes AMG teammate and main 2016 rival Nico Rosberg. Clocking a lap 0.478 seconds slower than the #44 car of Hamilton, Rosberg's #6 out-powered a pair of Scuderia Ferrari race machines.

With this weekend's grand prix taking place in Ferrari's home country, pressure on the team is quite high. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are both continuing to fight for the team its first victory in 2016. Vettel was just under a tenth of a second quicker than teammate Raikkonen for the preferential placement behind Lewis Hamilton on the second row. Due to a controversial three-wide mishap in the Belgian Grand Prix, both Ferraris as well as the Red Bull-TAG Heuer car of Max Verstappen weakened from possible podium contention. Ferrari will have some of the strongest of a brand loyal crowd cheering for the constructor destined to dwarf the Mercedes-Benz faithful.

Williams Martini Racing's Valtteri Bottas starts 5th in Italy placed well ahead of his teammate Felipe Massa in 11th. Prior to the Italian Grand Prix, Massa confirmed that this season will be his final Formula 1 effort. In sixth place, Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull Racing car was measured as only 0.001 seconds slower than than Bottas' Williams-Mercedes. Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull-TAG Heuer starts 7th at Monza after a week following the Belgian Grand Prix where the young driver faced criticism from current and former Formula 1 pilots. Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg both cracked the top-10 in Italian Grand Prix qualifying behind Verstappen.

Monza is known as a place where surprises can occur. The 2008 victory of Sebastian Vettel in a Toro Rosso-Ferrari in the Italian Grand Prix serves as a recent, potent example. Not as triumphant and disrupting as Vettel's first Formula 1 win, the Haas F1 Team enjoyed claim to a first-time accomplishment for the rookie organization in qualifying. Seventh fastest on the final Q2 charts, Esteban Gutierrez drove his Ferrari-powered Haas F1 Team machine into the Q3 round. Gutierrez would ultimately place at the bottom of the Q3 time trial order but still mounted a milestone effort.  

The 2016 Italian Grand Prix is scheduled for 2 PM local time (8 AM Eastern time).

2016 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 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
7 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer
8 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
10 9 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Ferrari
11 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
12 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
13 28 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes-Benz
14 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
15 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
16 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
17 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari
18 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
19 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
20 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
21 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault Renault
22 31 Esteban Ocon Manor Mercedes-Benz

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