Italian Grand Prix: Valtteri Bottas beats Lewis Hamilton for F1 ‘sprint’ race front row


Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton to qualify fastest for Saturday’s Italian Grand Prix ‘sprint’ race.

The Finn beat Hamilton by 0.096 seconds, with Hamilton’s title rival Max Verstappen third, 0.411secs behind.

The usual second Friday practice was replaced by an hour-long qualifying session to decide the grid for Saturday’s ‘sprint’ race qualifying.

Hamilton trails Red Bull’s Verstappen by three points in the title race.

Bottas, however, will take an engine change this weekend and as a result start the main race on Sunday from the back of the grid, regardless of where he finishes on Saturday.

His lap comes days after it was announced he will be replaced at Mercedes next season by Briton George Russell. Bottas will drive for Alfa Romeo in 2022.

Bottas shouted over team radio after he crossed the line: “Oh yes – boom! Thanks.”

He later added: “It feels so good when you get a nice lap. I had a bit of a tow. I feel good and relaxed now everything is sorted for the future.”

Britain’s Lando Norris was an impressive fourth for McLaren with a much-improved performance from his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo seeing him take fifth.

Along with McLaren, Alpha Tauri also look quick in the hands of last year’s surprise winner Pierre Gasly, who was sixth.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were seventh and eighth, as Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Alfa’s Antonio Giovinazzi rounded out the top 10.

Saturday’s ‘sprint’ race results will set the grid for the main grand prix on Sunday.

There will also be championship points for the 18-lap event, with three to the winner, two for second and one for third.

The winner of the sprint race will be officially recognised as the driver who scored pole position for the traditional race of 53 laps.

It is the second race of the season which has seen a change to the traditional format for grand prix weekends.


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