Charles Leclerc was looking to reignite the Formula One championship race on his home track after clinching pole position for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.
Runaway points leader Max Verstappen will again have to try to fight his way to the front – although this time only from seventh – after being among the many drivers to be hit with grid penalties.
Leclerc – who said he risked everything at the end – set the fastest time on his last lap in Saturday’s qualifying and knew he would start at the front of the grid even before Verstappen crossed 0.145 seconds slower, meaning the Ferrari driver secured pole on merit and not just because of his rival’s grid penalties.
Despite starting the season brightly, Ferrari has had a difficult campaign full of errors. Leclerc, who trails Verstappen by 109 points in the standings, admitted it was a “surprise” to top qualifying.
“It feels really, really good,” said Leclerc, who will be bidding to emulate his 2019 Monza triumph. “We still need to finalise this otherwise it’s pointless to do the pol, but it is a very good surprise considering where we come from. We were not expecting to fight for poles here.”
Footballers Zlatan Ibrahimovich, Olivier Giroud and Patrice Evra were among the host of celebrities gathering at Monza to watch the race drama. To see a gallery of stars at the grand prix, click on the gallery above.