‘Idiots’: Shambolic F1 qualifying farce
Aussie Daniel Ricciardo has let his driving do the talking after promoting the speed of his car, with a fifth placed finish in qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix.
But it was a strange way to decide the grid for tomorrow's race as a bizarre go-slow left most teams scratching their heads.
It was an interrupted qualifying after Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen crashed out in Q3 without a time, which saw all drivers sitting in the garage until two minutes were remaining before all the drivers inexplicably went slow and missed out on a final flying lap.
Renault's Nico Hulkenberg was the first man out with just over two minutes remaining in Q3 but tried to drop back in position by taking a chicane but no driver wanted to go past him.
Racing Point's Lance Stroll qualified for Q3 for the first time this season but got caught in the mess as he refused to go past Hulkenberg.
Stroll and Red Bull's Alexander Albon both weren't able to set a lap time while Raikkonen wasn't able to continue after the crash.
Only McLaren's Carlos Sainz made it over the line in time and couldn't improve his position.
"C'mon guys," Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle said as the drivers failed to cross the line in time.
"It's one of the silliest things I've ever seen in F1," he added later.
"Yeah, a proper shambles," David Croft said.
It was such a ridiculous final lap of qualifying, the stewards announced it was under investigation.
It meant Ferrari's Charles Leclerc will line up on pole position.
"What a mess," Leclerc said over team radio. "Pole position anyway guys. Sorry for the mess in the last lap."
It was all any of the drivers and engineers wanted to talk about after the session with a bizarre way to decide the grid for the race.
"It was a shame at the end, it was a big mess," Leclerc said in his pole position interview.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton said it a bizarre finish to the qualifying, with the Brit finishing second and getting to start on the front row of the grid.
"Honestly I have to be happy that I'm on the front row, we get to have a fight with the Ferrari's tomorrow," he said. "It definitely is a bit of an anticlimax that we couldn't all get out to do the final lap, that's one of the most exciting ones. It's crazy the system we have where everyone backs up, everyone tries to get position and they timed us out."
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said it was just plain stupid.
"That was not even worthy of a junior formula," Wolff said. "Everybody looks like idiots."
Wolff said everybody who was at the front reduced the speed to a level that wasn't worthy of F1.
Sainz, the only one able to get back out on the track, said there needs to be a stricter rules because all teams are using any advantage they can.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen didn't set a lap time at all but lost power early in the race.
He was already going to start from the back of the grid after taking an engine upgrade penalty.
Red Bull team principle Christian Horner had to bite his tongue, calling it a "cluster … you know" with Albon unable to complete a lap.
Much of the blame came down on Hulkenberg, who blamed the trend of teammates towing each other out down the straights in order to get the fastest time possible.
It was a tactic the Renault's used effectively, even sitting one-two in Q1 for a majority of the session.
The pair of Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Hulkenberg ultimately finished fifth and sixth respectively and will lock out the third row of the grid.
"We're all looking for a tow, if you want to do the ultimate fastest lap time, it's so powerful," he said. "When you drive on your own, you just lose on the straights and you can't make up that time in the corners. That's why we end up with these conditions. It was weird and strange that's for sure that last outlap."
Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul said it was "clever" the way the tactics came out.
Ricciardo seemed to have given up on going faster and was the last car out for the final outlap madness.
Fifth was his best finish since his fourth place result in Canada.
Asked if he blamed his teammate for the go-slow tactics, Ricciardo denied it.
"Not directly, I think it started in Q3, run one. I saw a pack of cars go through the first chicane.
Former F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg joked: "But they locked up, it wasn't on purpose".
Laughing, Ricciardo continued: "It was already a bit … the games had begun, let's just say that. I'm not saying anyone should get a penalty, I think everyone was trying to be a bit too clever already and it kind of encouraged everyone to just create a mess.
"Leclerc and myself weren't too disappointed but to be honest, I wanted the last lap and I wanted everyone to have it because I felt I had lap time on the table so I definitely wanted that last lap to try improve."
Ricciardo said engine upgrades had his car feeling good with straight line speed improvements helping the result.
ITALIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING RESULT
1. Charles Leclerc (FERRARI)
2. Lewis Hamilton (MERCEDES)
3. Valtteri Bottas (MERCEDES)
4. Sebastian Vettel (FERRARI)
5. Daniel Ricciardo (RENAULT)
6. Nico Hulkenberg (RENAULT)
7. Carlos Sainz (MCLAREN)
8. Alexander Albon (RED BULL)
9. Lance Stroll (RACING POINT)
10. Kimi Räikkönen (ALFA ROMEO)
11. Antonio Giovinazzi (ALFA ROMEO)
12. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS)
13. Daniil Kvyat (TORO ROSSO)
14. Lando Norris (MCLAREN)
15. Pierre Gasly (TORO ROSSO)
16. Romain Grosjean (HAAS)
17. Sergio Perez (RACING POINT)
18. George Russell (WILLIAMS)
19. Robert Kubica (WILLIAMS)
NC. Max Verstappen (RED BULL)