Afternoon everyone. So, with the destination of both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles seemingly a foregone conclusion, we may have to absorb ourselves in subplots and controversies and little individual battles as the season enters the home straight. And we’re getting a few. Take yesterday’s qualifying, when a game of “no, after you, I insist” among slipstream-keen drivers led to go-slows and accusations of blocking.
Nonetheless, the upshot of it all was a Ferrari driver in pole for the 90th edition of the Italian grand prix. Monaco’s Charles Leclerc will carry the Scuderia’s hopes of a first success at Monza since 2010 as he looks to consolidate an impressive first campaign for the team and build on his win in Belgium last time out. The pace of the track and the backing of the crowd should stand him in good stead too.
But right behind him on the grid is Lewis Hamilton, who has won the past two grands prix at this storied venue, with the world champion’s teammate Valtteri Bottas a place further back. Hamilton can make a sixth world title even more nailed-down with victory today, and he’s 5-4 favourite with the bookies for a reason. Max Verstappen starting at the back of the grid for having taken new engines and components – along with McLaren’s Lando Norris and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly – will also be handy for the British driver.
Of course motor sport is still reeling from the death of Anthoine Hubert, with Norris speaking in the week about the impact of the Frenchman’s fatal accident last week. Safety will be in the spotlight this afternoon at the quickest track in F1. Hubert, Juan-Manuel Correa whose condition remains critical after the crash at Spa, will be prominent in the thoughts of many this afternoon.
Here’s how they line up on the grid:
1 Charles Leclerc, Ferrari; 2 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes; 3 Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes; 4 Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari; 5 Daniel Ricciardo, Renault; 6 Nico Hulkenberg, Renault; 7 Carlos Sainz, McLaren Renault; 8 Alexander Albon, Red Bull; 9 Lance Stroll, Racing Point; 10 Kimi Räikkönen, Alfa Romeo; 11 Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo; 12 Kevin Magnussen, Haas; 13 Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso; 14 Lando Norris, McLaren Renault; 15 Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso; 16 Romain Grosjean, Haas; 17 Sergio Perez, Racing Point; 18 George Russell, Williams; 19 Robert Kubica, Williams; 20 Max Verstappen, Red Bull
Verstappen, Norris and Gasly required to start from back of grid due to multiple power unit element changes.
Lights out 2.10pm BST.