By Robert Haile
After a successful qualifying for the sprint race Valtteri Bottas kept his Mercedes out front to win the eighteen lap race around Monza.
For the second of three sprint races qualifying took place on Friday with the normal three session with Bottas taking pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and both McLaren’s of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo.
At Alfa Romeo it was the same line up from the Dutch Grand Prix with Kimi Raikkonen being replaced with Robert Kubica after the out going Finn tested positive for Covid.
Sprint race winner Bottas said “A good day in the office for me personally, it was a clean race and I had the pace. Feels like it has been a while since I’ve finished first in a race, so I am very happy. I had a good start and a clean restart as well, so those things were key for me.
“The car felt good throughout, and it was great to finish P1 today and get some points as well. Unfortunately, I’m starting from the back tomorrow, but the speed is there, so I’ll be fighting. There are overtaking opportunities here so I hope I can make my way up the grid and have a good race for the Team.
“It won’t be easy, but we have the pace and with the right strategy we can make something happen. I’ll give it everything, I can promise you that.”
From the start Hamilton struggled with wheel spin losing places to Verstappen, Norris and Ricciardo.
Pierre Gasly went of at Curva Grande after the front wing fell off while he was challenging Hamilton bringing out the safety car while the AlphaTauri was collected.
Former champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso battled in the opening laps with Alonso passing Vettel after the pair traded places.
Sergio Perez’s Red Bull passed Lance Stroll’s but had to give the position back due to gaining the position when he when off track but made the same move a lap later to take the place with Alonso lurking in the background.
With the race deciding grid position for the Grand Prix Bottas will have the benefit of Pole Position but with the change of engine meaning he starts at the back.
Verstappen will start on pole with Ricciardo on the front row for the first time since the pair were together at Red Bull.
Second place in the Sprint and Pole starter Verstappen said “To be on pole tomorrow at a track like this is a real positive for us, we had a good start and the race went better than expected. We scored a few championship points and it’s great to be starting at the front tomorrow. I was giving it my all to keep close to Valtteri today, but I still expect a tough race tomorrow as Lewis is starting in P4 and they have a bit more pace than us, we know we are slower than the Mercedes here.
“I’m hoping for another clean start tomorrow so I can create a bit of a gap at the beginning because I will definitely need it later in the race. It’s going to be an interesting battle and we’ll see what happens, we’ll keep pushing and try to make the most out of it.”
Norris starts third with Hamilton next to him while the Ferrari’s of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz start fifth and sixth while Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo kept Perez behind him to start seventh.
Both Aston Martin’s will have an Alpine for company as Stroll starts next to Alonso and Vettel has Esteban Ocon for company.
Williams drivers Nicholas Latifi and George Russell start next to each other in thirteenth and fourteenth while Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri has Nikita Mazepin’s Haas next to him.
Alfa Romeo’s Robert Kubica will start ahead of Mick Schumacher for Haas with Gasly and Bottas at the back.
There’s were more driver announcements with Bottas heading to Alfa Romeo and George Russell replacing him at Mercedes.
AlphaTauri will be keeping the same line up of Gasly and Tsunoda with former Red Bull driver Alex Albon returning to F1 with Williams.