MONZA, Italy – Kimi Raikkonen gave Ferrari’s home fans reason to cheer during qualifying for the Heineken Italian Grand Prix on Saturday at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, as the Finn stormed to his first Formula One pole position in more than a year.
Raikkonen, whose last pole came at Monaco in May of 2017, edged out teammate Sebastian Vettel during his final flying lap of the third knockout round, posting a time of 1:19.119 with his No. 7 Ferrari SF71H.
That was enough to give Raikkonen the 18th pole of his F-1 career by .161 of a second.
“Obviously it’s great for tomorrow, but the job is only half done,” said Raikkonen, who becomes the oldest F-1 polesitter since Nigel Mansell in 1994 at
“I couldn’t pick a better place to be on pole position. Hopefully tomorrow, everything goes smoothly,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter where we go; here at the home grand prix … it’s full of red (attire). Hopefully tomorrow is as good as today and we can have a shot at a victory here in Italy.”
The final knockout round was full of intensity, as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton led the round early and was the first of the heavy-hitters to cross the line on his second and final flying run, resetting the mark to beat at 1:19.294.
Vettel then eclipsed Hamilton’s lap by .014 of a second at 1:19.280 before Raikkonen came through last and topped all comers.
That bumped Vettel down to second but still meant Ferrari secured their first front-row lockout at the Italian Grand Prix since the 2000 season, when Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello qualified first and second. Schumacher went on to win the race that weekend.
Vettel dipped a tire off into the gravel on his final lap, a slight miscue that might have made the difference between earning the pole and starting second when combined with Raikkonen getting a slipstream off of both Vettel and Hamilton.
“It was so close,” noted Vettel. “It’s unbelievable to see the amount of support around the track, though. It’s a good result for the team, even though I’m not entirely happy with my run. It was always like this in Monza … and I think for him (Raikkonen) it was the sweet spot. My lap wasn’t very good. For now, it’s great to have both cars on the front row.”
Mercedes teammates Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will share the second row, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen completing the top five on the grid.
Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean earned an impressive starting position with his sixth-place qualifying effort, followed by Renault’s Carlos Sainz, Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon, and Scuderia Toro Rosso’a Pierre Gasly.
Williams’ Lance Stroll, from Canada, earned his second Q3 appearance and tied his best start of the season by placing 10th in the final round of qualifying on Saturday.