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Ousted Bottas secures sprint top spot as Monza qualifying madness ensues again

Ousted Bottas secures sprint top spot as Monza qualifying madness ensues again

F1 News

Ousted Bottas secures sprint top spot as Monza qualifying madness ensues again

Ousted Bottas secures sprint top spot as Monza qualifying madness ensues again

Valtteri Bottas secured top spot on the grid for the return of F1's sprint event at the Italian Grand Prix.

Bottas, who it was revealed this week would be heading to Alfa Romeo next season, to be replaced by George Russell, so ending a five-year association with Mercedes, delivered at the death in another mad qualifying session at Monza.

Yet while Bottas will lead away the field in the 100km, 18-lap sprint, for the race on Sunday he will start at the back of the grid.

During qualifying, it was confirmed Mercedes would be taking the fourth new power unit elements for Bottas only, meaning the Finn will serve a raft of penalties.

Throughout the session, it appeared as if Lewis Hamilton was poised to clinch top spot as he was quickest in Q1, Q2 and after the first lap in Q3.

But come the final lap, ousted Bottas delivered with a lap of one minute 19.555secs, finishing 0.096s ahead of Hamilton, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen third fastest, three-tenths of a second down.

Verstappen was comfortably adrift of Hamilton in Q1 and Q2 by half a second and three-tenths of a second respectively.

But on the first lap in Q3, the slipstream effect was put to good use as last season's Italian GP winner Pierre Gasly towed Sergio Perez who in turn pulled along his Red Bull team-mate Verstappen in what was effectively a Honda train.

It left Verstappen just 0.017s behind Hamilton after the first run, but despite a tow from Perez on his second lap, the Dutch driver failed to improve, although will be satisfied he has Hamilton in his sights on a Mercedes track.

McLaren duo Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo produced superb sessions to line up fourth and fifth ahead of Gasly.

The fourth row is occupied by Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, with the latter enduring technical gremlins throughout the session.

Perez, though, starts a lowly ninth, with Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi 10th, a fine performance from the Italian with his future up in the air.

Throughout qualifying the frustrating age-old habit at this track of the drivers forming queues during a lap in the hope of obtaining a tow from the car in front was prevalent.

Despite the FIA setting a minimum delta time between the two safety car lines of one minute and 43 seconds, ensuring the drivers had to carry a degree of speed on their out lap, there was still the sight of flying laps being conducted past queues of cars.

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly was particularly incensed during Q1 as he found himself slightly hindered by a line of cars, and ultimately baulked by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc through the final chicane - Variante Ascari.

At the end of Q1, it appeared as if George Russell had failed to make it through as he was 16th, almost four-tenths of a second adrift of Alpine's Esteban Ocon.

But just as Russell radioed back there was "no drama", claiming to have "a good race car" for the sprint, AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda's final lap was deleted for exceeding the track limits at Parabolica, now renamed Curva Alboreto in honour of former Ferrari star Michele.

That relegated Tsunoda to 17th behind Russell's Williams team-mate Nicholas Latifi, with the Japanese driver ahead of Haas pair Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, sandwiching the Alfa Romeo of Robert Kubica.

In Q2, the shenanigans continued ahead of the final flying lap as the cars all leaving the garage at the same time, with Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel notably released into the path of Hamilton, and Fernando Alonso in front of the champion duo.

Those incidents are currently under investigation by the stewards.

The culmination was Vettel and team-mate Lance Stroll failing to make it out of the session, with the duo lining up 11th and 12th, ahead of Alpine pair Fernando Alonso and Ocon, with Russell 15th.

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