Italian Grand Prix: Charles Leclerc on pole with Max Verstappen dropped down after grid penalties

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Charles Leclerc will get huge support at Monza as he starts the race as pole  (Getty Images)
Charles Leclerc will get huge support at Monza as he starts the race as pole (Getty Images)

Charles Leclerc will start the Italian Grand Prix on pole after a brilliant final qualifying lap at Monza.

A number of grid penalties to other drivers meant that Leclerc looked almost certain to take pole regardless of his performance in Q3, but he went fastest anyway by more than a tenth to lay down a marker ahead of Sunday’s race.

Championship leader Max Verstappen was second fastest but will move down the field after his five-place grid penalty, meaning George Russell, who was sixth in qualifying, starts on the front row alongside Leclerc. The Dutchman starts seventh.

Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton qualified third, fourth and fifth respectively, but the trio also face grid penalties. Hamilton will start at the back of the field alongside Yuki Tsunoda after taking on his fourth engine of the season.

The McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo both benefited significantly from that and will start the race in third and fourh respectively on the second row.

"It is amazing," said Leclerc. "It was not an easy qualifying session. I knew there was potential in the car and I knew with my last lap I had to put everything together and I managed to do it.

"I am very happy with the lap and very happy with the performance. I really hope that we can do just like I did in 2019 by winning tomorrow."

Verstappen suggested that the Red Bull could fare better with race pace than it did in qualifying.

He said: “Over one lap it may not be the best, but for tomorrow, it can be quite strong.

“It was a good lap, I enjoyed it, and it will be an interesting battle tomorrow. I have to stay out of trouble at the beginning and then work my way forward.”

Nyck de Vries made his F1 qualifying debut after Alex Albon was ruled out for the rest of the weekend with appendicitis. The Dutchman has taken part in three practice sessions this year, most recently with Aston Martin here on Friday.

He performed impressively on his qualifying debut, qualifying ahead of Nicholas Latifi in the other Williams. De Vries finished 13th, three places above Latifi, but will start eighth grid sanctions are applied.

Aston Martin’s miserable season continued with Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll eliminated at the first hurdle.