News Update


Carlos Sainz takes pole for the Italian Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen.

In a thrilling qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz edged out Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

In the last seconds of qualifying, the pole position changed hands three times.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took pole from Sainz, who was fastest on the first runs, before Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took the lead and was replaced by Spaniard Sainz.

Sainz beat Verstappen by 0.013 seconds, delighting the home crowd.

The top three were separated by just 0.067secs across 3.6 miles of the iconic Monza circuit, with Leclerc trailing by 0.054secs.

Mercedes driver George Russell beat Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to fourth position, with Williams and Alex Albon finishing sixth after another strong performance.

Lewis Hamilton finished eighth, wedged between Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris’ McLarens, with Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin rounding out the top ten.

A wish is granted

Sainz, who was fastest in Friday practice and again in Saturday’s final session, appeared to be the most likely Ferrari driver to win the race at home.

But even he seemed to think it was unlikely – when asked if he could battle for pole on Friday, he remarked, “Dreaming is free, no?”

Because of the swarm of fans at the neighboring Hotel De Ville, where they, like so many other legends of the past, spent their Italian Grand Prix weekend, the Ferrari drivers arrived at the circuit 20 minutes late for some filming for Brad Pitt’s new Hollywood F1 film.

The royal park in which the autodromo is located has a different vibe this year, as 10,000 of its ancient trees were blown down in a storm in July, making the normally verdant surroundings appear sparser.

Fans serenaded their idols as usual, swarming the paddock entrance, cheering from the grandstands and pit building, and reaching out to touch them if they were lucky enough to be permitted admission to the paddock, where all the teams have their headquarters.

The drivers put on a show that everyone will remember.

Verstappen set the pace in the opening two practices, but Ferrari kept their best until last.

After the first runs, Sainz led Leclerc and Verstappen, but Ferrari was worried that the world champion would come good on the final runs – the Red Bull driver had not only been the only driver without a tow on the first lap, but he had also brushed the gravel with a rear wheel on the exit of the Roggia chicane.

Leclerc finished ahead of Verstappen and Sainz in the final laps. Leclerc’s outstanding opening sector put him on track for pole, and he maintained it throughout the lap to soar to the top of the times.

But Verstappen and then Sainz passed him as they crossed the finish line behind him, disappointing and then electrifying the crowd.

The famed tifosi in the pit-lane grandstand shouted loudly as Sainz climbed from his car and waved across the circuit.

“Honestly, it’s been such an intense qualifying, especially Q3,” the 29-year-old remarked. We all went after it. We were extremely close to the limit, and on the final lap, I knew I had more lap time to come in Ascari and Parabolica, so I went for it, and it worked out beautifully.

“I haven’t finished the goosebumps since I crossed the finish line, the entire in-lap.” The noise from the supporters’ support has been fantastic everywhere we go. It is the nicest sensation an athlete can have.

“I got something extra for my birthday yesterday, and today I put in one of my best laps to get pole.”

“I’ll give it my all tomorrow to keep that P1 and a good start and first stint, and see if we can battle Max.” Normally, he is faster, but I’ll give it a shot.”

“We made some good improvements compared to yesterday, and every session was very tight,” Verstappen remarked. I’m delighted to be second today.

“Normally, we have a quick race car, and I will try to win the race, but first, let’s enjoy today.”

“My feeling can only be amazing with the tifosi,” Leclerc added, savoring the overwhelming cheers from the supporters. Of course, I’m disappointed because I definitely wanted to be first.

“However, seeing Carlos first is incredible for Ferrari.” He has done an outstanding job this weekend. I was battling a little more this weekend, but it all came together in qualifying. On the final run, I missed a slipstream, which cost me at least one position.”

In comparison to the rest, the top three were in a league of their own.

Russell finished fourth in the Mercedes, 0.31secs behind Perez in the second Red Bull, by just 0.017secs, in a car that has struggled on high-speed tracks over the last two years.

It is also the Briton’s second great qualifying result in a row, and he believes he has made a breakthrough since returning from the summer vacation.

With three cars separating the Mercedes stars, he was 0.149secs faster than Hamilton.

Albon continued Williams’ strong run, while Piastri demonstrated his talent in the McLaren in his first season.

Outside the top 10, Liam Lawson of New Zealand performed in his second race, filling in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo at Alpha Tauri, finishing 12th, barely 0.164secs behind teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

It was a gloomy day for the Alpine team, whose Pierre Gasly finished third in the Dutch Grand Prix last weekend.

Gasly and teammate Esteban Ocon were eliminated in the first session in 17th and 18th places, respectively, after being exposed by their engine, which is the weakest on the grid.


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