The much-awaited sprint qualifying format was back this weekend at Monza for Italian GP 2021. As expected, the weekend kicked off in dramatic style on Friday as Valtteri Bottas outqualified both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to take P1 for Saturday's sprint race. The Finn dominated the 18-lap sprint on Saturday to take 3 points.
It was Red Bull's Max Verstappen who finished second, adding 2 vital points to his tally. McLaren's duo of Daniel Ricciardo (who earned 1 point) and Lando Norris finished at P3 and P4 respectively in a very strong outing at Monza. Unfortunately, it was Lewis Hamilton who had a terrible start where he was overtaken by quite a few cars as he had to settle for 5th spot.
Here are the complete results of sprint qualifying:
Valtteri set to serve grid penalty for engine change
As per the rules of this new format, the classification at the end of sprint qualifying decides the starting grid for the main race. Hence, Valtteri Bottas should be the one starting from pole position on Sunday at Monza. However, it will not be the case! But Why?
The Finn has notably had a number of power unit changes on his car which will hand him a penalty for the main race. "Mercedes changed engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K on Bottas' car, all outside the allowed component allowance for each part. That automatically leads to a grid penalty," as reported by ESPN. As a result, Bottas will have to start the Italian GP 2021 from back of the grid on Sunday.
Reflecting on the sprint race and the subsequent penalty, Bottas said, "It feels like it’s been a while since I finished first in a race and unfortunately, you know, I’m starting from the back tomorrow, but the speed is there, so I’ll be fighting, I’ll be coming as high as I can tomorrow. But today, I enjoyed; it was a very clean race and we had a good pace."
Max Verstappen to start at pole position on Sunday
With Bottas starting the race from back of the grid, it means that all the drivers will start one position further in the main race with respect to where they finished in sprint. Hence, Max Verstappen (who finished P2 in sprint) will take the pole position. The 23-year-old will be accompanied by his former Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo at the front, as the McLaren driver finished P3 in sprint.
Interestingly, it will be the first time since Mexico 2018 when the duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen will start the race together on front row. The Italian GP 2021 is scheduled to take place on September 12 at 6:30 PM IST onwards.