MONZA, September 7- Britain’s 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton showed little emotion when on Saturday he finally ended championship leader and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg’s supremacy in qualifying by taking pole position for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
It was the 29-year-old’s first pole in eight races dating back to the Spanish Grand Prix on May 10 and one that enhanced his hopes of trimming the German’s 29-points lead in the title race, with seven races remaining.
But, two weekends on from their collision on the second lap of the Belgian Grand Prix, neither Hamilton nor Rosberg was prepared to give vent to his feelings in the wake of a tense contest of outright pace at one of the sport’s ancient temples of speed.
“I’m very proud of my guys on my side of the garage,” said Hamilton. “They have been through the difficult times with me. They’ve done a remarkable job bouncing back, so we’ve done this as a team and it’s great to have another 1-2 for the team.”
Two days on from Rosberg’s public apology and 24 hours after the team’s final warning that more misbehaviour might cost them their jobs, it was time for the team ethic and corporate considerations even if the duo were battling for advantage in a bitterly-contested title race that has simmered and exploded this year.
“In the race anything can happen and we need to work towards the race and get a good strategy and have a good race,” said a clearly crestfallen Rosberg.
“For the team again, even at a track like Monza, even coming here and being so dominant…. There’s still the race tomorrow, but it’s still really awesome for the team.”
Hamilton clocked a best lap of one minute and 24.109 seconds to take pole by more than two-tenths of a second ahead of the German, a gulf that endorsed the theory that it is the Briton who has the greater capacity for natural speed.
The battling duo, once allegedly good friends, but hardly good team-mates, barely acknowledged one another as they climbed from their cars. There was no handshake and no genuine eye contact.
It was Hamilton’s first pole in four months, his fifth this season and the 36th pole of his career – a signal that their rivalry motivated him to produce his best.
Asked about any team instructions for the 53-laps race, Hamilton said: “Free to race, that’s the decision so it continues as usual. I hope tomorrow will be good. It would be really good to get another 1-2 for the team.
“I hope we have some competition with these guys (Williams), too. I think that would be great for the fans. I feel excited for tomorrow.”
Finn Valtteri Bottas was third fastest ahead of his Williams team-mate Brazilian Felipe Massa, the British team leapfrogging ahead of the rest with a much improved performance that revived their vintage days.
Like Mercedes’ factory outfit, on row one, and McLaren who filled row three, Williams are a team powered by Mercedes, the German company thus supplying the engines that took the top six grid positions.
Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen was fifth and Briton Jenson Button sixth for McLaren ahead of the leading Ferrari driven by two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso. His team-mate Finn Kimi Raikkonen failed to make the top ten shootout after qualifying 12th.
Defending four time world champion German Sebastian Vettel was eighth for Red Bull ahead of his team-mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who on Sunday will bid for a third consecutive victory. Mexican Sergio Perez was 10th for Force India.