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Leclerc claims Monza pole


Ahead of today's qualifying session the air temperature is 27.6 degrees C, while the track temperature is 40.3 degrees.

The big question heading into the session isn't so much who will post the fastest time but who will actually start from the front row... indeed, who will start where.

As it stands nine drivers are facing grid penalties, and that number could grow over the next hour.

Among them are front runners Verstappen, Perez and Sainz, while Hamilton starts from the back.

Consequently, pole appears to be an open goal for Leclerc, but who might start beside him.

On the form thus far, one would have to say Alonso or Norris, both of whom look strong, while Mercedes has struggled this weekend so we're not expecting any miracles from Russell. That said, the warmer temperature could play into the Silver Arrows hands.

While Tsunoda has looked strong this weekend he is one of the nine drivers to be penalised, so, along with Ocon, we can pretty much count him out.

Aware of the penalties, from the outset Red Bull has focussed on race set-up, so though Verstappen may well be quickest this afternoon he will be concentrating on tomorrow.

As it stands, Verstappen and Ocon look set to drop 5 places, while Perez and Schumacher drop 10.

Bottas and Magnussen drop 15, while Sainz, Hamilton and Tsunoda start from the back.

A factor to consider is that those facing penalties, for example, may well opt to sacrifice their sessions in favour of their teammates in terms of giving them a tow.

And before we forget, having been sidelined by appendicitis, Alex Albon is replaced by Nyck de Vries. Talk about a baptism by fire.

The lights go green and Stroll is first out... and there is no rush to join him.

As he begins his flying lap, Stroll is joined on track by Tsunoda, Schumacher and Magnussen.

Stroll crosses the line at a disappointing 24.231.

Next up is Tsunoda who responds with a 22.762, while Magnussen posts a 23.167.

Vettel goes third with a 23.919, ahead of Schumacher and Stroll.

Perez is the first of the big guns to post a time, the Mexican, as expected, going quickest ith a 22.085. However, teammate Verstappen responds with a 22.023.

Latifi goes fourth (22.818) and de Vries fifth (22.881).

Sainz is giving Leclerc a tow on the back straight, sling-shotting the Monegasque into the Parabolica. He crosses the line at 21.280 to go top.

Sainz goes second (21.348), as Russell posts a 21.785 to go third.

Norris goes sixth, ahead of Hamilton, Tsunoda and the Williams pair.

Stroll improves to twelfth with a 22.997, while de Vries goes eighth (22.567).

Ricciardo can only manage thirteenth (22.774).

Perez improves to third with a 21.495 as Tsunoda goes fifth.

Verstappen retakes the top spot with a 20.922 as the drop zone consists of Magnussen, Bottas, Stroll, Schumacher and Vettel.

With four minutes remaining, the Haas pair have the track to themselves. Schumacher running just ahead of his Danish teammate.

Magnussen improves to eleventh, but has his time deleted for exceeding the track limits at Turn 7.

Bottas goes eleventh, Zhou sixth, Gasly seventh and de Vries twelfth.

Alonso goes tenth, as Ricciardo improves to twelfth.

Again Magnussen improves but again has his time deleted.

De Vries has his time deleted also, but having finished fifteenth gets through to Q2.

Verstappen is quickest, ahead of Leclerc, Sainz, Perez, Russell, Zhou, Gasly, Tsunoda, Hamilton and Alonso.

We lose Latifi, Vettel, Stroll, Magnussen and Schumacher.

The lights go green but there is no immediate rush to action.

Eventually, with 12:20 remaining, Perez breaks the deadlock.

Verstappen, Bottas, Zhou, Ocon and Gasly follow, then the Silver Arrows.

"Everybody is so slow, man," reports Zhou.

Perez gets things underway with a 21.358, Verstappen responding with a 21.265.

No sooner has Hamilton gone third, than Sainz posts a 20.878 to go top.

A mistake at the first chicane means that Leclerc can only manage a 2:00.809.

Russell is fifth, ahead of Alonso, Gasly, Ocon and Norris.

"I still need some help braking for Turn 1," admits de Vries, "give me some advice."

A 21.208 sees Leclerc go second, the youngster having run slightly wide at Ascari.

Funny enough, his previous time of 2:00.809 had been deleted for exceeding the track limits at Turn 2.

The final assault gets underway, with de Vries leading the way, followed by Bottas, Zhou, Hamilton and Russell.

Starting from the back of the grid, Tsunoda climbs from his car.

Last out are the two Alpines, as Sainz, Leclerc, Verstappen and Perez stay put.

De Vries makes a mistake at the second chicane and will therefore not improve on 12th.

Bottas stays eleventh, while Zhou also fails to improve.

Norris goes seventh and Ricciardo eighth.

Alonso goes ninth while his Aline teammate fails to make the cut.

A bit of a damp squib that.

Quickest is Sainz, ahead of Leclerc, Verstappen, Perez, Hamilton, Russell, Norris, Ricciardo, Alonso and Gasly.

We lose Ocon, Bottas, de Vries, Zhou and Tsunoda.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Monza here.


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