Mercedes appear to be a class above the rest of the Formula One grid at the Italian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton primed to increase his lead in the drivers' standings.
No one has been able to get near Silver Arrows duo Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at Monza this weekend, with the team looking destined to seal a seventh win of the season in the year's eighth race.
The reigning champion, who has a 47-point advantage over Max Verstappen, will start from the front of the grid and be aiming to clinch a third straight win and sixth of the campaign.
Hamilton's main competition is expected to come from Bottas, with the run down to turn one likely to prove important to the outcome.
WHAT HAPPENED IN QUALIFYING
Hamilton stopped the clock at one minute, 18.887 seconds to narrowly take pole position ahead of Bottas. His time was not only a track record for Monza, but also the quickest lap in F1 history.
McLaren driver Carlos Sainz came out on top in a battle with Racing Point's Sergio Perez for P3, while Verstappen was only able to guide his Red Bull to fifth.
With Charles Leclerc qualifying 13th and Sebastian Vettel in 17th, Ferrari will start a race at Monza without a car in the top 10 for the first time since 1984.
THE STARTING GRID
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3. Carlos Sainz (McLaren), 4. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 6. Lando Norris (McLaren)
7. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), 8. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
9. Alex Albon (Red Bull), 10. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
11. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri), 12. Esteban Ocon (Renault)
13. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), 14. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
15. Kevin Magnussen (Haas), 16. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
17. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), 18. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
19. George Russell (Williams), 20. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
ITALIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINTS
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said this week he hoped the previous race at Spa, where they finished 13th and 14th, proves to be the nadir for the Scuderia this season, but they look set to endure more misery at their home circuit.
Conversely, Mercedes appear destined to be celebrating come the chequered flag after locking out the front row at Monza for the first time since 2016.
New rules banning 'party mode' engine settings for qualifying in the build-up to this weekend did not help any other driver close the gap to Mercedes either.
With this being the first part of a double-header at the 'Theatre of Speed', Hamilton and Bottas have an opportunity to pull away from the rest of the grid in the drivers' standings.
WHAT THE DRIVERS SAID
Lewis Hamilton (pole): "[Tyre management] is generally always the same. It varies from race to race but it's very, very hot here so I think we will have something potentially similar [blistering] as it's a one stop. I don't have that many high-speed circuits where we put a lot of force through the tyres like the last ones and Silverstone so perhaps you won't have people being concerned of their tyres."
Valtteri Bottas (2nd): "As soon as you're starting here in the first or second row, you always have a chance. There will be opportunities and I think the pace I had in the long runs, that we had as a team, is looking strong. Also with engine regulation change, for the modes, it's going to be even better for us in the race than before ... So, not sure how happy Red Bull is now with this engine change."
Carlos Sainz (3rd): "Honestly, since Q1, I felt like we had the upper hand on the rest of the midfield and I just needed to put some clean laps together. We're running very low downforce which in our car last year didn't work and our downforce was just falling off whenever we ran very little rear wing and this year, somehow, our car is a bit more robust running lower downforce levels and in Spa it started to pay off and here in Monza we have a strong car under braking."
Sergio Perez (4th): "Everything we have done, we've been focusing a lot onto the race, so I think tomorrow we are definitely in the fight for the podium. We are surprised. We were not expecting this step in qualifying. Everything we have done has been focusing on the race, so we should be having strong race pace throughout the race."
Daniel Ricciardo (7th): "To get seventh, I know we're deep enough there to have a fight and to race the cars we should be racing. I'm not going to say we're over the moon but how the session was tracking, I think seventh was a good recovery. Our race car's [pace is] a bit stronger so I'm confident we can pick it up a bit."
Charles Leclerc (13th): "At the end, we expected it a little bit coming into the weekend. We know that Spa and here are probably the two worst tracks for us, with another one probably a bit later in the year. But for now it's like this and I need to extract the maximum out of the car in the situation we are in and that's what I try to do. I hope that from next race onwards, we will see a light at the end of the tunnel because for now that's two very tough weekends for us where we are trying many things on the car, but we don't find a way through for now."
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 157
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 110
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 107
4. Alex Albon (Red Bull) - 48
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 45
1. Mercedes – 264
2. Red Bull – 158
3. McLaren – 68
4. Racing Point – 66 (after 15-point deduction)
5. Ferrari – 61