Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton beats Nico Rosberg to pole at the Italian GP

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Lewis Hamilton led team-mate Nico Rosberg to take pole position for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

The Briton produced a 1:24.109 on his first lap in the top 10 shootout, which was unmatched as Mercedes' power dominated qualifying at Monza.

Rosberg wasn't able to match his team-mate through the more technical corners in the middle and end of the lap, and was a quarter of a second slower in second as the two Williams couldn't quite challenge the Silver Arrows.

Mercedes domination

With few corners to make up for a lack of power, the Mercedes-powered teams were able to dominate qualifying, with Mercedes, Williams and McLaren taking the top six places in tandem.

The first non-Mercedes powered car was Fernando Alonso in seventh for Ferrari, ahead of the two Red Bull's of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo in eighth and ninth respectively.

It will be very hard too for those teams to make much progress ahead of their grid positions without problems in front, as DRS is largely ineffective due to the skinny wings and the lack of downforce also means little degradation of the tyres, so a one-stop strategy will be the expected tactic for all.

Raikkonen struggles

With the midfield Mercedes-powered teams offering a greater threat it was expected some of the higher running teams would struggle, and in qualifying so it proved for Kimi Raikkonen as the Finn, who enjoyed something of a rebirth in Spa two weeks ago, could only manage 12th quickest, though he will start 11th as Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat became the first driver to take a 10-place grid penalty for using a sixth engine component.

Raikkonen's disappointing qualifying has been one of the key reasons for his difficult season back at Ferrari, only once has the 'Iceman' managed to reach the top 10 since the British Grand Prix in July.

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Lotus out in Q1

Monza qualifying was also very difficult for Lotus as both cars went out in the first segment for the first time this year.

The lack of power from their Renault unit was the downfall, as well as brake problems for Pastor Maldonado as they lost out to their main rivals Sauber, who had both drivers in the midfield.

For a while it looked as if Jules Bianchi would add insult to injury by beating at least one of the black and gold cars in his Marussia, however, a late lap from Romain Grosjean put him ahead in 18th and indeed Kamui Kobayashi marked his return to the Caterham seat by being fastest of the slower teams in 19th.

Williams impress

As expected the straights of Monza gave Williams the 'best of the rest' tag behind the two Mercedes. Their superior top speed, some believed, even made them a threat to their supplier's works team, however, having the mechanical grip in the corners gave Mercedes the edge.

In the battle of the two drivers it was Valtteri Bottas again who had the edge on Felipe Massa as the pair was third and fourth and should keep the two Silver Arrows very honest during the race on Sunday.

Mercedes war continues

At the front, however, the tasty rematch between Hamilton and Rosberg awaits.

Much has been said in the two weeks since the now ominous incident at Spa and how the two will race each other at the front tomorrow will be must watch.

Despite problems in practice, Hamilton does seem to have the edge on his team-mate at Monza, but at a venue that was famously nicknamed the 'slipstreamer' expect plenty of wheel-to-wheel action in the race.

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