Lewis Hamilton takes Italian pole in imperious fashion

Joins Aryton Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio with a record fifth pole position at Monza

Lewis Hamilton cruised to his fifth Monza pole on Saturday. Photograph: Getty

Lewis Hamilton cruised to his fifth Monza pole on Saturday. Photograph: Getty

 

Lewis Hamilton extended his dominance of the Italian Grand Prix into a third successive year by claiming an emphatic pole position ahead of his championship rival Nico Rosberg.

The triple world champion, who is bidding to become the first driver since Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950s to secure a hat-trick of consecutive wins at Monza, was incredibly nearly half-a-second faster than Rosberg.

In securing the 56th pole of a career Hamilton also joined his great hero Ayrton Senna and the aforementioned Fangio to claim a record five poles at the so-called Temple of Speed.

Sebastian Vettel, in front of the partisan Italian crowd, will start from third on the grid with his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen alongside him on the second row.

The records are continuing to fall for Hamilton, and with a nine-point advantage over Rosberg, the Stevenage-born racer is now the odds-on favourite to join only a handful of drivers to win four titles come the end of the season.

Hamilton, 31, was at his dominant best at Monza on Saturday, with Rosberg, who won from the front in Belgium last Sunday, a distant and demoralising second.

Should Hamilton carry his decisive form into tomorrow’s race, Rosberg will head to Singapore with a deficit of at least 16 points. Rosberg once led this championship by a margin of 43, but with the momentum stacked in Hamilton’s favour, that will seem like an age ago to the German now.

Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne was swamped on his arrival in the paddock earlier on Saturday. And despite writing off his team’s performance this year as a failure, he is likely to be heartened that the famous Italian constructor is the best of the rest behind Mercedes this weekend.

Vettel however, was still nearly one second slower than Hamilton with Mercedes, who have won all but one of the 13 grands prix so far this season, arguably further ahead here than they have been at any stage this season.

Jenson Button’s future in Formula One still remains unclear with his McLaren team to discuss their line-up for 2017 in the coming days.

And Button will start way down the order here after qualifying a lowly 15th, two tenths slower and two places behind his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso. A gearbox penalty for Romain Grosjean however, will promote Button one place up the grid.

British rookie Jolyon Palmer faces a fight to extend his debut campaign into a second season, and he will start 20th with his Renault team way off the pace.

The 25-year-old from Horsham will take some comfort from being the best part of two tenths faster than his team-mate Kevin Magnussen, who ran wide on his final timed run, and will line up in 21st.

Valtteri Bottas was fifth for Williams with the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen sixth and seventh.

Hamilton, who will bring up his half century of triumphs with another victory here on Sunday, was delighted to match Fangio and Senna’s record.

“I am obviously very happy,” said Hamilton. “I was only made aware of that record as I came into this weekend. That was in the back of my mind but I was hoping that it wouldn’t steer me off course.

“I feel incredibly proud to be up amongst Senna and Juan Manuel. They were incredible drivers and I never thought in a million years my name would be mentioned in the same sentence as theirs so I am very proud of that. I came with my A-game today, and particularly that last lap felt incredible.”

Rosberg added: “I think the best explanation is he did some good laps and that is it. I was just not quick enough today.”

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