harles Leclerc will start the Italian Grand Prix on pole after a brilliant final qualifying lap at Monza.
A number of grid penalties to other drivers meant that Leclerc looked almost certain to take pole regardless of his performance in Q3, but he went fastest anyway by more than a tenth to lay down a marker ahead of Sunday’s race.
Championship leader Max Verstappen was second fastest but will start down in seventh after his five-place grid penalty, meaning George Russell, who was sixth in qualifying, starts on the front row alongside Leclerc.
That’s because Sainz and Hamilton will both start at the back of the grid, with Perez, fourth in qualifying, given a ten-place penalty.
The McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo both benefited significantly from that and will start the race on the second row in third and fourth respectively.
“It is amazing,” said Leclerc. “It was not an easy qualifying session. I knew there was potential in the car and I knew with my last lap I had to put everything together and I managed to do it.
“I am very happy with the lap and very happy with the performance. I really hope that we can do just like I did in 2019 by winning tomorrow.”
Verstappen suggested that the Red Bull could fare better with race pace than it did in qualifying.
He said: “Over one lap it may not be the best, but for tomorrow, it can be quite strong.
“It was a good lap, I enjoyed it, and it will be an interesting battle tomorrow. I have to stay out of trouble at the beginning and then work my way forward.”
More to follow…