It was a private battle for pole position at Monza between the two Mercedes cars – and when it counted, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton got the job done once more, pipping team mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.069s as Ferrari failed to get a car in the top 10 at their home race for the first time since 1984.
At points during qualifying, Bottas’ pace was such that it suggested he was very much in the fight for pole, but he simply had no response to Hamilton’s brilliance in Q3. This was Hamilton’s 68th pole for Mercedes, which ties the number Michael Schumacher (second in the all-time list) achieved in his entire career.
Behind the sensational Mercedes, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz came out on top in a qualifying-long battle with Sergio Perez in the Racing Point for third, the Spaniard sealing his second P3 of the season and McLaren’s third of the season. It’s also McLaren’s first top-three start at Monza since they locked out the front row in 2012.
Perez will start fourth for the eighth time in his F1 career, without having ever started in the top three, with Max Verstappen classified as fifth, meaning Red Bull have failed to start on the front two rows of the grid at Monza since the turbo hybrid era began in 2014.
There was less good news for Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel getting caught out in Q1, which forced him out in the first segment, meaning he will start P17. Charles Leclerc didn’t fair much better, the Monagasque saying he did the best he could, but that was only good enough for P13 - it's the Scuderia's worst qualifying performance at their home race for over 35 years.
Lando Norris pipped Daniel Ricciardo to take seventh, in what is his 15th consecutive race starting in the top 10, with Lance Stroll eighth and Alexander Albon – who had three laps deleted for exceeding track limits – ninth.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly closed out the top 10, as his team seek their first points finish at Monza since 2013.