Charles Leclerc put his Ferrari on pole position in the Italian Grand Prix to the delight of the public at Monza on Saturday.
In doing so, Leclerc became the first Ferrari driver to win eight poles in a single season since Michael Schumacher achieved the feat in 2004.
He pulled out all the stops with his final run at the Temple of Speed to send the Tifosi wild, with Max Verstappen having to settle for second place.
Verstappen will likely line up fourth, the world champion among nine of 20 drivers punished for exceeding their allocated engine parts count.
Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton qualified third, fourth and fifth respectively, but the trio also face grid penalties. Hamilton will start from behind having taken his fourth engine of the season – one more than is allowed.
George Russell finished sixth but took advantage of the penalty from those above to join Leclerc on the front row. Lando Norris qualified seventh but is expected to start third in his McLaren once grid penalties are applied.
Hamilton’s yellow 44 on the side of his Mercedes was turned black in honor of the Queen, with a plethora of tributes paid in the paddock to the longtime monarch.
A one-minute silence was held ahead of Friday’s practice, followed by another on the grid in the moments leading up to Sunday’s race. The Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, will be present for the formalities.
Mattarella, and the majority of the 125,000 fans expected on race day, will be targeting a Ferrari win with Leclerc to end Verstappen’s four-game winning streak.
Verstappen is on track to clinch his second world title in as many seasons – possibly as soon as the next round in Singapore – having won 10 of the 15 rounds contested so far.
But Leclerc, 109 points behind the Red Bull driver, will be there to restore pride in a season in which Ferrari – through mistakes made by man and machine – failed to deliver on its earlier promises.
The presence of Ferrari CEO John Elkann will increase the pressure on the Maranello team, but Leclerc’s superb lap and Verstappen’s penalty will put the Monegasque ahead.
“It’s amazing,” Leclerc said. “It was not an easy qualifying session. I knew there was potential in the car and I knew with my last lap I had to put everything in place and I managed to do that.
“I’m very happy with the lap and very happy with the performance. I really hope we can do like me in 2019 by winning tomorrow.
Red Bull’s Verstappen, to a handful of boos from the Italian partisan crowd, said: “On one lap it might not be the best, but for tomorrow it might be strong enough.
“It was a good lap, I enjoyed it, and it will be an interesting battle tomorrow. I have to stay out of trouble at first and then progress. »
Nyck de Vries made his racing debut in the 11th hour after Londoner Alex Albon was ruled out for the rest of the weekend with appendicitis.
De Vries, 27, has taken part in three testing sessions this year, the most recent with Aston Martin here on Friday.
And the Dutch driver performed well on his qualifying debut, qualifying ahead of Nicholas Latifi in the other Williams.
De Vries finished 13th, three places ahead of Latifi, and he will be pushed into the starting order once grid penalties are enforced.
Aston Martin’s torrid tenure continued with Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll eliminated at the first hurdle.