Ferrari's Leclerc claims pole at Monza

Reuters

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc took pole for the Italian Grand Prix after topping the times in qualifying at Monza on Saturday.

Leclerc finished 0.145 seconds ahead of championship leader Max Verstappen after posting his fastest lap on his final shot around the Temple of Speed to claim his eighth pole of the season.

"Very happy with the lap, very happy with the performance, it's been great weekend... I really hope we can just like in 2019," said Leclerc, who won here three years ago.

Reigning champion Verstappen had already been handed a five-place grid penalty for Sunday's race for exceeding his engine allocation.

The Red Bull driver is hunting his first ever win at Monza as he tries to extend his 109-point lead from Leclerc and teammate Sergio Perez at the top of the drivers' standings.

"I think it will be an interesting battle tomorrow," said Verstappen.

George Russell, who posted the sixth fastest time in qualifying for Mercedes, will start alongside Leclerc on the front row due to further grid penalties to Carlos Sainz, Perez and Lewis Hamilton.

A total of nine drivers have been knocked down the grid, with Sainz and seven-time champion Hamilton starting at the back alongside Yuki Tsunoda.

Nick de Vries made it into Q2 in his F1 qualifying debut after stepping in for Alex Albon at the last minute.

Williams driver Albon, 26, had to abandon the GP on Saturday after being diagnosed with appendicitis.


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