After their first laps in the final shootout and Kimi Raikkonen’s crash, drivers were waiting as long as possible in the pits before heading out again — looking to utilise the slipstream at high-speed Monza — but only Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, who had provisional pole, managed to get around to start their last laps.
Neither driver improved which meant the positions from the first runs were unaltered — with Leclerc sealing pole for home favourites Ferrari after the chaotic climax.
Live stream the 2019 FIA Formula One Italian GP on KAYO SPORTS. Every practice, qualifying & race live & anytime in HD. Get your 14 day free trial >
Lewis Hamilton was second for Mercedes ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with Sebastian Vettel fourth.
“That is one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen in F1,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle.
Stewards quickly confirmed that the final lap was under investigation, having warned drivers about slow out-laps before the session begun.
What happened and who was at fault?
Nico Hulkenberg was the first driver out of the pits, ahead of the Ferraris, but in the end all drivers were effectively racing each other for track position, and to make the line before the end of the session.
Sainz made it to the front ahead of the Ferraris, who went wheel to wheel before the Parabolica curve.
And Hamilton, whose Mercedes team appeared to be waiting for rivals Ferrari before leaving the pits themselves, claimed the tactics were “interesting”.
“It was a bit of an anti-climax at the end but it is crazy with this system we now have and they basically timed us out,” said the championship leader.
“It’s interesting — get pole position in the first run and then time everyone out.
“On the out lap it is dangerous. You don’t know who’s slowing down and who’s alongside you. It is risky business.”
Hamilton, who added that he “nearly crashed a couple of times”, later admitted he couldn’t see who was in front.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was similarly unimpressed, telling Sky F1: “That was not even worthy of a junior formula.
“Everybody looks like idiots.”
With drivers eager to get a slipstream for the final run of qualifying, the leaders all jostled for position in a train of cars as they went through the first chicane.
Nico Hulkenberg went across the run-off area at the first chicane, and the following car of Lance Stroll then backed off to ensure he did not overtake the Renault. Behind him everyone else backed off to try to not move to the front of the train.
As the drivers all tried to hold back, in the end they got their timing wrong as the time counted down — meaning only Carlos Sainz as the car that had moved to the front and the following car of Charles Leclerc made it across the line before time ran out.
After the session that FIA — which had warned drivers about the possibility of penalties for qualifying tactics — announced that the last lap was under investigation.
Pole position man Leclerc said: “I am happy with the pole but a shame at the end there was a big mess.”
Stroll described it as a ‘comedy show’, while Lewis Hamilton, who ended up on the front row, echoed his comments from Spa last weekend when he suggested drivers slowing down to get a tow was not safe.
“It is crazy with the system we have,” Hamilton said. “With everyone backing up and trying to get a position, they timed us out. It is interesting — get pole position in the first run and time us out.
“On the out lap it is dangerous for all of us — with people slowing down and you don’t know who is alongside you. It is a risky business out there.”
On Friday, the F3 qualifying session was red-flagged for drivers messing around with slipstreams, with 17 of the 30 drivers penalised for their behaviour.
This article originally appeared on Sky Sports and has been republished with consent.