Hamilton sets fastest lap in F1 history to take Monza pole

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates after clocking the fastest time during the qualifying session for Sunday's Italian Formula One Grand Prix, at the Monza racetrack in Monza, Italy, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. (Jennifer Lorenzini/Pool via AP)

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest Formula One lap ever to grab pole position at the Italian Grand Prix, nudging Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas into second place by just 0.069 seconds on Saturday.

But Ferrari’s troubles deepened as both drivers failed to qualify inside the top 10 at the team's home circuit for the first time since 1984, with Sebastian Vettel not even making it out of Q1.

Defending champion Hamilton raced around the 3.54 miles (5.79 kilometers) of asphalt at the so-called Temple of Speed in the fastest lap recorded in the sport at 164.267 mph (264.362 kph). That eclipsed Kimi Raikkonen’s one-lap record of 163.785 mph, set by the former world champion on his way to pole at Monza two years ago.

“Fantastic from the team today in terms of timing, when they put us out on the track,” Hamilton said after clocking a best lap of 1 minute, 18.887 seconds. "It really demanded a clean lap so I am really happy.

“Valtteri was very, very close, pushing. I made some changes going into qualifying so I was a little bit nervous about whether that was the right thing to do but it worked just fine.”

Bottas and Hamilton exchanged track records on their way to securing yet another Mercedes front-row lockout. McLaren driver Carlos Sainz — who moves to Ferrari next year — was third, 0.808 behind the British driver and just ahead of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.

“Of course, it’s disappointing to miss out on pole, especially by such a small margin,” Bottas said. "Still, the laps were good and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

“My race pace on Friday was matching Lewis and this track always provides opportunities, so it’s up to me to take them. It’s still all to play for.”