F1: Charles Leclerc puts Ferrari on pole for home Italian GP | Racing News

MONZA (Italy): Charles Leclerc clinched pole position in Formula 1’s Italian Grand Prix to boost Ferrari’s hopes on Saturday while George Russell joined him in the front row for Mercedes.
Leclerc will likely be the only driver from where he qualified, with nine of the 20 players on the grid incurring penalties primarily due to power unit changes exceeding their season’s allowance.
“It’s a very good surprise today, considering where we come from,” said Leclerc, referring to the Italian team’s struggles in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps last month, as the army of Ferrari fans celebrating a home success.
“We didn’t expect to fight for pole here… There’s a special motivation for this weekend and it’s good that we managed to do a good job today.”
Pole was the Monegasque’s eighth of the season and first since France in July, and it came in the presence of Ferrari chairman John Elkann.
The last time he and Ferrari started on pole at Monza was in 2019 and he won this weekend.
Red Bull runaway championship leader Max Verstappen109 points clear of Leclerc with seven races to go and chasing his fifth straight win, was second fastest in qualifying but will drop back for Sunday’s start due to a five-place penalty.
However, there was confusion over where he started, with the Dutch driver confident he would drop to seventh, but others felt he could eventually make it to fourth.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Russell’s seven-time world champion team-mate Lewis Hamilton qualified third, fourth and fifth respectively, but all had significant penalties.
Russell was only sixth on the qualifying timesheets.
Lando Norris will line up in third place for McLaren after qualifying seventh.
“I think for tomorrow it can be quite strong and also knowing that we have to start a bit behind,” said Verstappen, who has won 10 of 15 races so far.
“Overall it was a good lap and I enjoyed it. I think it will be an interesting day tomorrow.”
Sainz, Hamilton and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda all have back-to-the-grid penalties, although it’s clear that only two of the three can be on the back row.
“It’s going to be tough tomorrow because the DRS (drag reduction system) doesn’t make a huge difference, it’s quite small and there could be a lot of people on a DRS train,” Hamilton said.
“So it could be quite a frustrating day. Nonetheless, I’ll try to be positive at the start.”
Formula 1 will observe a minute’s silence before the race in honor of Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest reigning monarch, who died aged 96 on Thursday.

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