Sebastian Vettel has demanded answers from Ferrari after teammate Kimi Raikkonen beat him to pole position for the Italian Grand Prix.
Raikkonen set the fastest lap in Formula One history as he blitzed his way round the 3.6-mile Monza circuit at a staggering average speed of 163.793 mph. In doing so, he eclipsed the record held by Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya since 2004.
It should have been the dream result for Ferrari, with both of their men occupying the front row at their home race for only the second time this century.
Indeed, Lewis Hamilton, who was sitting on provisional pole until the closing seconds of a scintillating qualifying session, finished third.
But Vettel, 17 points adrift of Hamilton in the championship, was quickly lamenting a nightmare, furious that Raikkonen’s name, and not his, sat at the top of the time sheets.
Raikkonen is Vettel’s rear-gunner at Ferrari, 85 points behind Hamilton, and out of the title race.
Yet, the 38-year-old Finn, whose future beyond this season is still yet to be determined, was curiously afforded the luxury of a slipstream by Ferrari off Vettel’s car.
The tow, coupled with a scruffy final lap by Vettel, provided Raikkonen with enough speed to edge out Ferrari’s number one championship contender by 0.161 seconds, and Hamilton by 0.175 sec.
Vettel crossed the line before Raikkonen, and thought he had secured pole. “Yes!” he yelled over the team radio, only to be informed moments later that Raikkonen had taken the spoils.
“We speak after,” he replied.
Vettel’s gloomy mood had improved little by the time he reached the press conference room.
“Clearly, I wasn’t happy, but I won’t tell you why,” he said.
Quizzed about Raikkonen’s slipstream, the German replied: “We have an order which changes every weekend, and this weekend it was Kimi’s turn to go second (and get the tow). Simple.
“Is Kimi allowed to win? Well, if he is starting from pole, then I guess he is.”
Vettel’s failure to take pole leaves him without a buffer to Hamilton on the charge to the opening bend here on Sunday.
It also leaves Ferrari in a tricky position to ensure that Vettel finishes ahead of Raikkonen to take maximum points. Fourteen of the last 18 pole-sitters here have gone on to take the chequered flag.
Hamilton, booed by the partisan tifosi, gave it his best shot on Saturday, but Mercedes have not been able to match Ferrari’s speed this weekend. It was a one-car Silver Arrows challenge with Valtteri Bottas half-a-second back in fourth.
“Of course, we were hopeful that we might be able to give them a run for their money,” Hamilton said. “The first qualifying lap was pretty good, but the second one could always have been better."
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