Kimi Raikkonen became the oldest driver since Nigel Mansell in 1994 to earn a Formula One pole when he turned the fastest lap in F1 history in the third round of knockout qualifying for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix (9 a.m. ET/ESPN 2).
Raikkonen, circle the Monza circuit with a lap of 1:19.119-seconds in his No. 7 Ferrari for his first pole since last year’s Monaco Grand Prix and just his second in the last 10 years.
Raikkonen’s Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel will start second in his No. 5 Ferrari for the first all Ferrari front row lock out at Monza since 1994 too. Vettel, turned a lap of 1:19.280-seconds on his final qualifying lap.
Row 2 is an all Mercedes row with Lewis Hamilton (1:19.294-seconds) starting third and his teammate Valtteri Bottas (1:19.656-seconds) rolling off fourth.
Max Verstappen (1:20.615-seconds) rounded out the top five.
Mercedes has won the last four Italian Grand Prix races and five of the last six. But, it appears that Ferrari have the leg up on them this weekend. Ferrari hasn’t won on their home turf since 2011 as Fernando Alonso’s win seven years ago was their lone win in Italy since 2007.
But, will we see team orders in play on Sunday?
Raikkonen doesn’t have a deal in place yet for 2019 and would obviously like to return to Ferrari as Vettel’s teammate. It’s likely down to him and Charles Leclerc. Sauber has even said that their 2019 lineup is on hold until Ferrari’s decision is made.
But, Raikkonen can make it his seat to lose if a couple of things happen on Sunday.
First, he needs to make sure he finishes ahead of Hamilton. That ensures Hamilton doesn’t get 25 points for the win on Sunday. Then, he really needs to let Vettel win. Yes, team orders.
Bottas said that he would allow team order to put Hamilton ahead of him in the remaining races. Botas, is 87 points behind Hamilton for the championship and knows that this isn’t his year to win it. Raikkonen, is 85 points down, so he likely won’t win it either. This year’s title is down to Hamilton vs. Vettel.
Vettel, won last weeks race while Hamilton finished second. He’s now only 17 points out of the points lead. If Vettel wins on Sunday and Raikkonen finishes second, then the best Hamilton could do is third. That would allow Vettel to gain 10 more points on Hamilton and leave Italy two points behind in the drivers standings.
In turn, that should be enough to allow Raikkonen to return to Ferrari on a possible one-year deal for 2019.
Why not right?
Italian Grand Prix Starting Lineup
Row 1: Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel
Row 2: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas
Row 3: Max Verstappen, Romain Grosjean
Row 4: Carlos Sainz Jr., Esteban Ocon
Row 5: Pierre Gasly R, Lance Stroll
Row 6: Kevin Magnussen, Sergey Sirotkin R
Row 7: Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg
Row 8: Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez
Row 9: Charles Leclerc R, Brendon Hartley R
Row 10: Marcus Ericsson, Stoffel Vandoorne
Top 5 Prediction
- 5 Vettel
- 7 Raikkonen
- 44 Hamilton
- 77 Bottas
- 55 Sainz