MONZA: Valtteri Bottas continued a fantastic weekend as he won the sprint at the Italian Grand Prix on a miserable Saturday afternoon for Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who saw title rival Max Verstappen take pole position and extend his lead in the standings.
Bottas finished the 18-lap dash 2.325 seconds ahead of Verstappen but will start at the back of the grid on Sunday as he is going to take a new power unit and will receive a penalty for doing so.
Verstappen has pole position and Daniel Ricciardo will also start from the front row. The McLaren driver finished 14.534 behind Bottas, who is leaving Mercedes at the end of the season for Alfa Romeo.
Hamilton finished in fifth, more than 20 seconds behind his team-mate following a woeful start.
Verstappen extended his lead in the championship to five points after the Red Bull driver earned two points for finishing second.
This was the second sprint qualifying after its debut at Silverstone.
Rather than the standard format of two practices on Friday and a third practice and qualifying on Saturday, there was one practice on Friday followed by a qualifying session that determined the grid for Saturdays sprint.
Bottas was quickest in Friday’s qualifying and so started just ahead of Hamilton. But the seven-time world champion had a nightmare start and swiftly dropped to sixth.
Hamilton moved up to fifth after Pierre Gasly — a surprise winner at Monza last year — clipped the back of another car and crashed into the barriers at turn one. He will start the race behind Lando Norris and just ahead of Ferraris Charles Leclerc, who won the Italian team’s home race in 2019.
Hamilton is a five-time winner at the Temple of Speed and has three additional podiums at the track.
In contrast, Verstappen has never set foot on the iconic Monza podium, with a best finish of fifth in 2018.
Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2021