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Bottas Impresses at Monza But Verstappen Starts on Pole

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/LAT Images/Pirelli


The week between the Dutch Grand Prix and this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix has involved a series of major announcements ahead of the 2022 Formula 1 season. The biggest domino was British driver George Russell tapped to pilot an entry for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team as a teammate to Lewis Hamilton. This move for next season occurred as Alexander Albon was announced to return to Formula 1 in the Williams Racing team while current Mercedes-AMG Valtteri Bottas would depart for the Alfa Romeo Racing organization. In the case of Bottas, his final races with the German factory team are widely expected to be his last, best chances at Formula 1 glory. Formula 1's second sprint qualifying weekend at the Autodromo Nationale de Monza was an opportunity for the Finnish driver to leave a lasting impact on the 2021 season.

The Italian Grand Prix is one of the three events in the 2021 Formula 1 season to use the league’s experimental sprint qualifying layout resulting in a time trial session on Friday and a short 18-lap race on Saturday. On Friday, the Mercedes-AMG team cars outran the field on the legendarily fast 5.793-kilometer (3.6-mile) track. Valtteri Bottas posted a 1-minute, 18.555-second fastest lap in Q3 narrowly edging out Lewis Hamilton by 0.096 seconds. This Friday time trial round set the field for Saturday’s mini race.

With the only test of Formula 1's updated qualifying system being the British Grand Prix, there remained a lot of unknowns as the teams prepare to run for 18 laps for their grid positions for Sunday’s event. With the Mercedes-AMG cars on the front row ahead of the Red Bull Racing car of Max Verstappen and Lando Norris’ McLaren MCL35M on the second row. Granting the drivers and teams a choice of tires they wish to run, the top three qualifiers selected medium compound Pirelli tires. Fourth and fifth place starting McLaren Racing entrants Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were set to the grid of the sprint qualifying race with soft compound tires. McLaren’s tire choice would prove pivotal for the start of the event.

From the standing start, Valtteri Bottas’ #77 car shot to an early lead but his teammate in the #44 car fell due to wheel spin. Hamilton’s poor start was countered by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and the McLaren Racing cars but the race action of the short qualifying race was interrupted in the opening lap. Starting sixth on the grid for Saturday, last year’s surprise Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly suffered front wing damage to his AlphaTauri AT02 race car. The broken aerodynamic piece of the #10 race machine broke off and caused Gasly slide off the track on turn three.

Following a brief safety car period to recover Pierre Gasly’s car, the race concluded with Valtteri Bottas taking victory finishing 2.325 seconds ahead of second place Max Verstappen. Sadly, while Bottas performed strong in qualifying and grabbed three championship points for winning the sprint qualifying, the Finnish driver will have to start at the back of the field due to a power unit change. The penalty promotes Verstappen’s #33 race car to the pole position starting spot where he will start alongside Daniel Ricciardo. Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton are positioned in the second row of the grid for Sunday.

Besides Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas falling to the rear of the grid for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, Saturday’s sprint qualifying produced few passing opportunities.

The 53-lap 2021 Italian Grand Prix is scheduled to start on Sunday at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. eastern time).

Page A

2021 Formula 1 Season
Italian Grand Prix
Starting Grid
Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda
2 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
3 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
4 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
5 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
6 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
7 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
8 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda
9 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
10 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team Renault
11 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
12 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team Renault
13 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
14 63 George Russell Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
15 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
16 9 Nikita Mazepin Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari
17 88 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
18 47 Mick Schumacher Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari
19 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
20 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz


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