After the announcement of his departure from Mercedes for next year, Valtteri Bottas stunned everyone as he outplayed his teammate Lewis Hamilton at Monza on Friday. The 32-year-old registered the fastest lap in the qualifying session and is set to start Saturday's sprint race at pole position. Notably, Bottas produced a remarkable lap time of 1:19.555 in the final stages of Q3, which gave him Pirelli's 'speed king award' for the day.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen qualify at P2 and P3 respectively
The Finn outqualified his teammate Lewis Hamilton by a narrow margin of 0.096 seconds on Friday. While the Brit will start alongside Bottas on the first row, he will be followed by current championship leader Max Verstappen who had to settle for P3 after a difficult qualifying session. Meanwhile, McLaren's duo of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo qualified at P4 and P5 respectively.
Last year's winner at Monza - Pierre Gasly - finished at 6th place, ahead of Ferrari's duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc at their team's home. Sergio Perez's disappointing run in the qualifying continued as he qualified at P9 while Antonio Giovinazzi completed the top 10 for Saturday's sprint race.
Here is the complete classification:
I’m really pleased with the team today: Valtteri Bottas
The Finn was absolutely delighted with his performance after registering the fastest lap on Friday. Reflecting on the same, he said, “That qualifying lap was nice. It was good fun... I feel relaxed. I’m really pleased with the team today. The weekend has started nicely.”
Although Bottas is set to start Sunday's race from the back of grid after taking engine penalty, the 32-year-old will play a key role during Saturday's sprint race as he could take some points off from Red Bull's Max Verstappen by finishing ahead of him.
Hamilton praises Bottas for his incredible lap
While Lewis Hamilton was visibly disappointed on missing out on first position for the sprint race, he had words of praise for his teammate. "Congratulations to Valtteri, that was a mega lap, I couldn't match it. It's great to see the Italian fans back, this is a brilliant circuit," Hamilton said after the qualifying.
Meanwhile, Max Verstappen admitted that it was always going to be difficult track for Red Bull and he is happy to finish third in qualifying. The sprint race at Monza, which will be a 100km race consisting of 18 laps, is scheduled to take place on September 11, Saturday at IST 8 PM onwards.