Leclerc clinches Monza pole with Verstappen and Sainz among nine with penalties

·3-min read

Charles Leclerc clinched pole position for Ferrari's home Grand Prix at Monza, topping the timesheet for the eighth time this season ahead of rival Max Verstappen.

Ferrari head into the Italian Grand Prix under immense pressure following a number of disappointments this season, derailing their hopes of a title, but Leclerc was able to perform in front of the Tifosi.

Leclerc was favourite to start at the front of the grid due to a wealth of penalties being issued for Sunday's race but did not require such an elevation, securing pole position on his own merit ahead of Max Verstappen.

The championship leader is among nine drivers taking penalties at Monza, along with team-mate Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher, four of whom progressed to Q3.

That meant the qualifying standings would be significantly different to the starting grid on Sunday, bringing back memories of the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Leclerc took victory at Monza in 2019 and is hopeful of emulating that display in 2022, which would bring an end to Verstappen's run of four back-to-back victories.

"It is amazing. It wasn't an easy qualifying session but I knew we had the potential in the car," Verstappen said.

"In this last lap in Q3 I had to put everything together and I managed to do it. Very happy with the lap and very happy with the performance. I hope we can do just like 2019 tomorrow."

Verstappen explained why he may have seemed slower than some anticipated for the qualifying session, with changes to the car aimed to boost a potential rise through the pack on Sunday.

"It was close but of course we chose to go for a little bit more downforce around here and on one lap it is maybe not the best," said Verstappen.

"I think for tomorrow it can be quite strong and also knowing we have to start a bit back. All in all, it was a good lap and I enjoyed it. I think it will be an interesting day tomorrow."

Sainz, who put in the third-fastest lap in qualifying but faces a stern test from further back on the grid, admitted that it "hurts" to have to tumble down the starting order for Ferrari's home race.

"It hurts to be starting from the back with how competitive we feel in the car this weekend. I wish I could be at the front with Charles to try and do a 1-2 for the team tomorrow," he said.

QUALIFYING TIMES

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:20:161

2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.145

3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.268

4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +1.045

5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.363

6. George Russell (Mercedes) +1.381

7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.423

8. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1.764

9. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +2.487

10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) No Time