Ferrari and Mercedes slugged it out for pole position at the fastest racetrack on the Formula 1 calendar. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen led home teammate Sebastian Vettel to score a front-row lockout in qualifying for the Italian squad at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.
It was the first front-row lockout for Ferrari at Monza since the 2000 Italian Grand Prix when Michael Schumacher was on pole ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello.
Raikkonen's lap of 1min19.119sec around the 11-turn, 5.793km Autodromo Nazionale Monza was the fastest ever in F1 with an average speed of 263.587km/h. It was faster than the time of 1min19.525sec set by Juan Pablo Montoya in a Williams-BMW in pre-qualifying for the 2004 Italian GP.
Former four-time F1 champion and this year's drivers' championship contender Vettel's time was just 0.159 seconds slower than his popular Finnish teammate and crucially 0.014 seconds faster than the current leader in the F1 championship, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG F1.
Just under 0.4 seconds slower than Hamilton was his teammate Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes occupied the second row of the starting grid. Bottas has agreed to support Hamilton in his quest for the title this year after Mercedes announced the imposition of team orders.
Ferrari have not yet publicly stated if they will do the same with Raikkonen in order to help Vettel beat Hamilton to become only the third F1 driver in history to claim five drivers' world championships.
The power advantage of Ferrari and Mercedes over the rest of the grid was apparent as Red Bull-Renault's Max Verstappen was nearly a second slower than Bottas in fifth place ahead of Haas-Ferrari's Romain Grosjean, Renault F1's Carlos Sainz Jr., Force India-Mercedes' Esteban Ocon, Toro Rosso-Honda's Pierre Gasly and Williams-Mercedes' Lance Stroll.