Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton sets new F1 pole record after qualifying fastest at the Italian GP

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There was no shortage of drama during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon.

Heavy rain had disrupted practice on Saturday, with the third stage of practice being limited to just 16 minutes.

However, qualifying for the Grand Prix went ahead on time, despite multiple F1 drivers voicing their concern that the track was too wet to race on.

And, the drivers' concern was realised when just four minutes into the session, Romain Grosjean of Haas crashed out, leading to a delay of just over an hour.

The rains persistence meant that the session was constantly delayed before restarting at 3:40pm local time, meaning the drivers had been made to wait a number of hours to finish off qualifying.

But, when racing did resume, it was Lewis Hamilton who battled the conditions to perfection as he secured pole position for Sunday's race.

It was a superb day of qualifying for the Englishman, who finished 1.1 seconds quicker than his nearest competitor.

This pole means that on Sunday, it will be the 69th time that Hamilton had started a Grand Prix at the front of the grid, which now makes the Mercedes driver the most successful qualifier in F1 history.

Michael Schumacher had previously held the record of pole positions with 68 accumulated in a tremendous career, but his 11-year record has now come to an end.

Hamilton could not contain his delight in the aftermath of qualifying in Monza.

The three time F1 World Champion said: "To do this [the record] here at such a historic circuit, I'm going to have some pasta tonight to celebrate.

"I came across the line and I didn't know if I had it but it felt a good lap.

"69, I can't believe it."

Whereas it was a good day for Hamilton, in contrast, it was a day of struggles for the Englishman's rivals in the F1 World Championship.

Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton's Mercedes teammate, could only finish sixth fastest on Saturday, whereas Championship leader Sebastian Vettel could only manage eighth fastest.

However, due to engine penalties given to the Red Bull duo earlier on in the week, Bottas and Vettel will begin Sunday's race in fourth and sixth respectively.

The Ferrari driver was dumbfounded as to why his car struggled to perform at a chaotic practice in Monza.

"I don't know what the problem was. I was surprised by how quick the others went, we couldn't match them." said Vettel.

"There are a couple of things we will look into. Something didn't work.

"We have a good car so we don't need to be afraid. Tomorrow we can make up a lot of ground and you can overtake here."

See Hamilton's Twitter activity following his record-breaking day below.

The German's struggles on Saturday now mean it will be an uphill task to catch Hamilton in today's race, with the Englishman now the odds-on-favourite to emerge victorious on Sunday.

The 32-year-old now has a brilliant opportunity to take the lead in the F1 Driver's World Championship for the first time, and he can make sure of doing so with a win on Sunday.

If he were to triumph, it is needless to say it would have been an extremely satisfying week for Lewis Hamilton.

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