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Hamilton takes pole at Monza

NEWS STORY
02/09/2017

Ahead of today's qualifying session the air temperature is 14 degrees C, while the track temperature is 17 degrees.

Due to the weather conditions, running in FP3 earlier was restricted to just 16 minutes and only seven cars posted times.

Unfortunately, while the rain eased off enough to all that running, in the final minutes of the session it picked up again and has barely stopped since.

While this session, unlike FP3, can be delayed - indeed, as Charlie Whiting confirmed earlier it could be postponed until tomorrow morning - the fact is that with tomorrow's race due to be run in the dry, the teams have a real dilemma in terms of set-up, a situation not helped by the lack of wet running so far this year.

If rain was expected tomorrow also, a number of teams, not least would be delighted, but currently that is not the case, and therefore teams will have to do some hard thinking ahead of today's session.

Either way, we can expect the usual 'rain men' to thrill and entertain us.

Since the first session, Renault have fitted new engine components to both cars meaning that Hulkenberg (10) and Palmer (15) both receive grid penalties for tomorrow.

Ten minutes before Q1 is due to begin, as the rain ease slightly, Race Control reveals that the chance of rain is 80%.

Shortly after, Race Control confirms that the session will start on time.

With work continuing on his car after Sauber opted to change his engine, there are doubts as to whether Wehrlein will play a part.

As the cars wait at the end of the pitlane for the green light... it begins raining again.

"No need to take risks," Hamilton is warned.

Conditions are bad, but Magnussen is advised that they will get worse.

Bottas misses the first chicane, as Grosjean admits: "I can't see where I'm going".

All are on track bar Alonso.

Bottas posts the first time of the session, crossing the line at 44.391, Ericsson subsequently posting 43.801 and Hamilton 40.128.

"I can't see where I'm going," says Grosjean again. "I want to stop the car". Moment later he loses control on the pit straight the Haas aquaplaning leaving the Frenchman a passenger.

"****, I told you it was too dangerous," he says as the session is red flagged.

While Grosjean was having his adventure, Vettel went second (42.394), ironically ahead of the Haas driver who had posted 43.355 to take third ahead of Ericsson and Bottas.

"It was stupid to start qualifying in these conditions," insists Grosjean.

At 14:15, Race Control reports that there will be a further update at 14:30.

Magnussen askes for a helmet with an air intake "facing the other way", as he was getting lots of rain water in his helmet.

Sadly, at 14:31 we are informed of another 15 minute delay.

Despite the fact that the rain has stopped and conditions have clearly improved, the session re-start is delayed for another 15 minutes, even though a number of drivers were in their cars ready to go out. The decision doesn't go down entirely well with the crowd.

"The weather is swirling around and we can't get a good idea of what might happen," explains Charlie Whiting. "The safety car driver still feels there might be aquaplaning on the straight and we don't want that."

On and on it goes... as the rain returns, there is yet another delay... and then another... and another. We are now at 14:30 looking at a further report at 14:45.

"Grosjean's car is back with us in the garage but it is under Parc Ferme conditions. Won't be back in qualifying," confirms Haas.

Even though the rain has stopped and it is brighter, aquaplaning is clearly the big fear as Race Control announces yet another delay.

The general opinion among the drivers is that the session could have resumed shortly after the Red Flag... almost two hours ago.

Amidst all the talk of this being the pinnacle of motorsport, the leading edge in terms of technology, we now have marshals clearing water from the track with brushes and leaf blowers.

At 16:15, despite it being brighter and the rain having stopped, Race Control announced a further delay.

At 16:28, Race Control confirms that the session will re-start at 16:40. The news is greeted with enthusiasm by the fans in the stands who have shown great patience.

Once again, Verstappen heads the queue at the end of the pitlane, ahead of Perez, the Mercedes and Ferraris.

There is 13:31 of Q1 remaining as the lights go green... the crowd cheers.

With Grosjean out, Ricciardo and Alonso are the last to appear.

"It's better now than when we started qualifying," reports Verstappen.

Raikkonen is told that there could be more rain coming.

Conditions clearly are better as Verstappen crosses the line at 38.557, with Vettel posting 38.285 moments later.

A 37.993 sees Bottas go quickest only to be demoted when Hamilton bangs in a 36.981.

Verstappen improves with a 37.344 to go second, as Ricciardo looks set to post a good time.

Understandably, drivers are missing the first and second chicanes, as Stroll goes third with a 37.653.

Asked about his tyres, Verstappen reports that it will soon be time for Inters.

Hamilton improves with a 36.009 as Bottas also improves (36.582) but remains second.

Vettel and Alonso switch to Inters, as does Magnussen.

Alonso struggles at the first chicane, as Vettel posts a PB in S1. The Mercedes duo switch to Inters.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Monza, here.

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