Hamilton takes all-important pole position at Italian GP

MONZA, Italy: Lewis Hamilton took the all-important pole position for the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday, beating teammate Nico Rosberg’s time by nearly half a second in a commanding performance.


The pole sitter has won at Monza the past six years — with Hamilton himself taking three of those victories.

Hamilton finished 0.478 ahead of Rosberg.

The Ferraris followed, with Sebastian Vettel eight tenths back in third and Kimi Raikkonen nearly a second behind in fourth.

Hamilton joined F1 greats Juan Manuel Fangio and Ayrton Senna with a record five poles at Monza. The British driver also ended Rosberg’s run of three straight poles this season.

Hamilton’s championship lead over Rosberg was cut to nine points after Rosberg won last weekend’s Belgian GP.

On Sunday, Hamilton is aiming to become the first driver since Fangio in 1955 to win at Monza three consecutive years. He’s aiming for his fourth win overall at the storied track, which has hosted more F1 racing than any other circuit.

Valtteri Bottas in a Williams qualified fifth, followed by the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

Conditions were sticky, with the track at 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and the air at 29 C (84 F).

Williams’ Felipe Massa — who announced Thursday he will retire at the end of this season — and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were among those eliminated in Q2.

“I didn’t feel the power, losing on the straights unfortunately,” Alonso said.

Esteban Ocon’s Manor car stopped at the first chicane in Q1 and Kevin Magnussen’s Renault was again all over the track, as both were eliminated early on.