Valtteri Bottas edged out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and championship leader Max Verstappen at the Temple of Speed on Friday night in the return of sprint qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.
Bottas’ final flying lap saw him beat Hamilton by .096 seconds in a qualifying session that set the grid for Formula One’s second-ever sprint, which will determine the starting lineup for Sunday’s main race.
Red Bull driver Verstappen was .411 behind the Finn.
Bottas, who is leaving Mercedes at the end of the season for Alfa Romeo, will start at the back of the grid on Sunday as he is going to take a new power unit and will receive a penalty for doing so.
Sprint qualifying had its debut at Silverstone, where Hamilton was fastest in qualifying but Verstappen topped the seven-time world champion in the sprint to take pole for the British GP.
Rather than the standard format of two practices on Friday and a third practice and qualifying on Saturday, there was one practice on Friday followed by the qualifying session that determined the grid for Saturday’s sprint. There is a second practice on Saturday too.
The sprints will be over 100 kilometers and the top three finishers will also receive points toward the championship. First place will receive three points, second place two points, and third place one point.
Verstappen won the Netherlands GP on Sunday and the Red Bull driver moved three points ahead of seven-time world champion Hamilton. Should Hamilton win Saturday’s sprint and Verstappen finish fourth or worst, the two will start Sunday’s race level at the top.
Lando Norris will start Saturday’s sprint in fourth position, just ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly — last year’s shock winner at Monza.
Carlos Sainz was seventh, with Ferrari teammate — and 2019 winner — Charles Leclerc eighth quickest at the Italian team’s home circuit.
Sergio Pérez and Antonio Giovinazzi round out the top 10.
Hamilton was quickest in practice earlier Friday, ahead of Verstappen and Bottas.
Verstappen has a poor record at Monza, where he has never set foot on the iconic podium. His highest finish is fifth.
In contrast, Hamilton is a five-time winner at the Temple of Speed and has three more podiums.