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Italian GP: Qualifying notes - Haas

NEWS STORY
02/09/2017

Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix got off to a wet and, ultimately, ominous start for Haas F1 Team. With rain pelting the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, qualifying began but then was abruptly red flagged when Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean aquaplaned on his first attempt at a timed lap. He spun into the outside wall near the end of the frontstraight before ricocheting across the track and sliding along the inside barrier. Grosjean climbed from his Haas VF-17 unharmed, but his qualifying effort was over.

Two-and-a-half hours later, qualifying resumed. The rain had abated, but the track remained wet.

Kevin Magnussen carried the flag for Haas F1 Team, beginning Q1 on the Pirelli Cinturato Blue full wet tire before switching to the Green intermediate tire as a slightly less waterlogged groove was formed around the 5.793-kilometer (3.6-mile), 11-turn circuit. The intermediate tires allowed Magnussen to earn a quick time of 1:40.489, which put him 16th overall, one spot short of advancing into Q2.

Despite Magnussen qualifying 16th, he will start Sunday's Italian Grand Prix from 11th in the 20-car field. Grid penalties have struck a handful of drivers in front of him, allowing Magnussen to leapfrog some of his competitors before the race event starts.

Taking the pole for the Italian Grand Prix was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. His fast lap of 1:35.554 was 1.148 seconds better than runner-up Max Verstappen of Red Bull. It was Hamilton's 69th career Formula One pole, breaking the record held by Michael Schumacher for the most poles in Formula One history. It was also Hamilton's eighth pole this season, his second in a row, his fourth straight pole at Monza and his sixth in the Italian Grand Prix, eclipsing the record of five poles previously held by Ayrton Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio.

Drivers first sampled the wet track in the morning during an abbreviated final practice (FP3). The hour-long session ended up being only 15 minutes, with pockets of standing water throughout the track delaying the affair. When drivers did eventually venture onto the circuit, they did so with their cars outfitted on Blue full wet tires.

Only seven of the 20 drivers toured the track at speed, with the others using the wet running for reconnaissance laps. Such was the case for Grosjean and Magnussen, who each made only one lap before parking their Haas VF-17s back in the garage.

The quickest FP3 lap belonged to Williams driver Felipe Massa, whose tour of 1:40.660 was .228 of a second better than his teammate, rookie Lance Stroll. The only other drivers to attempt some laps at speed were Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer, Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat and Sauber's Marcus Ericsson.

Romain Grosjean: "I knew straight away the conditions were not good. The visibility was terrible. It just aquaplaned at more than 300 kph (186 mph). I lost the car in a straight line.

"You couldn't see anything and you couldn't drive in a straight line. There was just too much water for the car. I had massive aquaplaning and there was nothing I could do. There was no warning. It just went. I was unlucky to be there at that time and place. Maybe waiting a few more minutes would've been the right choice.

"From the out lap onward, I complained a lot saying that it was too dangerous and we couldn't see where we were. I wasn't the only one. Clearly, crashing in a straight line shows that the car cannot take it because there was too much water.

"I'm disappointed that we started qualifying in those conditions. What can you do? You cannot back off. If there is someone behind you, they hit you straight in your back. You don't know what's in front. I just think we should've waited.

"The hit wasn't that bad. Physically, I'm alright. Mentally, crashing down the straightaway is not an easy thing to digest. It wasn't a big impact, so I believe the car is going to be fine for tomorrow."

Kevin Magnussen: "To sit and watch an empty track for that long is tough, so good job to everyone that stayed. For myself, it wasn't the best day. At the end, I just couldn't get any heat into the intermediates. I should have stayed on the wet tires. I know the guys at the front were getting them to work, but we don't have the downforce to make it work. The wet tire would've been better. It was my call, so that's what happens sometimes. It's the first time we've had that crossover with this year's tires. It is how it is. The start position is going to be a little bit better tomorrow because of other people getting penalties, so that helps a little bit, but I'm still disappointed with today."

Guenther Steiner: "A challenging day today. It was a very confusing qualifying. Romain damaged his car on the third lap and that took him out of the game. We have a broken car that we have to fix for tomorrow. With Kevin, we couldn't get the intermediates to work, or at least it wasn't working as expected. The good thing is with all the penalties going around, it looks like he will start 11th. I would say, in all the bad luck, we got a little bit lucky."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Monza, here.

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