Tuesday, December 7

Valtteri Bottas finds a way to qualify faster for the Italian GP sprint race | Formula One

Too little too late, but at least Valtteri Bottas consoled himself in qualifying in first place to take the front of the grid for the second Formula One round of his sprint format at the Italian Grand Prix.

In the first race after Mercedes announced that the team would drop him in favor of Williams’ George Russell, Bottas found something of the form that has abandoned him this season. He made a huge lap to beat his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in second and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in third.

In what typifies much of the bad luck the Finn has suffered this year, having taken an entirely new power unit beyond Mercedes’ allocation before qualifying, he will have to start from the back of the grid. in Sunday’s race, regardless of his performance. Saturday.

Qualifying took place as traditionally on a Saturday and Bottas was in good shape, turning the Monza high-speed challenge around the absolute limit. Hamilton held the early lead, setting a time of 1 minute 19.949 seconds in his first race in Q3, but was pushed by Verstappen, who was just one hundredth of a second.

In his later races, Verstappen started first and couldn’t match Hamilton, but Bottas was doing one of the best laps he has done this season. Hooking perfectly through sectors one and two, he took pole by nine hundredths of Hamilton.

Monza will host the second F1 speed qualifying race on Saturday, following the format’s debut at Silverstone. Bottas qualified first, but pole position will be awarded to the sprint winner, with three, two and one championship points for the top three of a race that will span roughly a third of the grand prix distance and last half an hour. .

Hamilton comes into the weekend behind Verstappen by three points in the world championship and was aware that he had to make the most of Saturday’s race. “Every point counts,” he said. “We were looking good until then, but he was faster and I couldn’t match him. We have lost the championship [in the past] for a point. These sprints can help. “

Bottas will drive for Alfa Romeo next season and was clearly encouraged by his return. “It was a lot of fun and I feel relaxed now that everything is arranged for the future,” he said. “The car has been very good and next year will be exciting for me.”

Red Bull's Sergio Pérez and Max Verstappen during sprint qualifying at Monza
Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez and Max Verstappen during sprint qualifying at Monza. Photograph: Jennifer Lorenzini / Reuters

The new format is scheduled to be used once again this season, in Brazil, but F1 is evaluating changing it for next season to make sprinting a standalone event. F1 sporting director Ross Brawn told Autosport magazine that the format has been well received, but drivers have worried that a poor sprint could leave a driver engaged for the grand prix. A mechanical failure or accident could prove costly and potentially detract from the race itself.

Brawn is considering that qualifying would decide the grid for Saturday and Sunday races, with the sprint awarding more points for more drivers.

“That will probably be the key issue, if we go one step further and make it independent,” Brawn said of the sprint format. “I think we will have to look at the number of points awarded and how we determine the starting grid. So should that be what was done on Friday?

“Sergio Pérez retired at Silverstone and obviously his race on Sunday was very compromised. So should we determine the starting order on Friday for Saturday and Sunday? “

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Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were fourth and fifth for McLaren and Pierre Gasly sixth for AlphaTauri. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were in eighth and ninth for Ferrari. Pérez was ninth for Red Bull and Antonio Giovinazzi in tenth for Alfa Romeo.

Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll were 11th and 12th for Aston Martin. Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were 13 and 14 for Alpine, with Russell at 15 for Williams.

Nicholas Latifi was 16th for Williams, with Yuki Tsunoda 17th for AlphaTauri. Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin ranked 18th and 20th for Haas, while Robert Kubica, again Kimi Räikönnen’s alternate, ranked 19th for Alfa Romeo.


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