Hamilton breaks Schumacher pole record

Pole position at the Italian Grand Prix sees Lewis Hamilton break Michael Schumacher's record of 68.

Lewis Hamilton signals his record-breaking 69th pole position after the Qualifying at Autodromo di Monza on Saturday.   -  Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton went fastest in qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday to surpass Michael Schumacher's record number of pole positions.

Mercedes driver Hamilton pulled level with the seven-time world champion on 68 in Belgium last time out and produced a time of one minute and 35.554 seconds to claim exclusive rights to the record in Monza.

The result, which came following a two-and-a-half-hour rain delay in Q1, represents a sixth Monza pole for Hamilton - more than any other driver.

Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were second and third fastest respectively, although both face engine penalties that will see them start towards the back of the grid.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel qualified down in eighth as the two Ferraris struggled to cope with the conditions, while Lance Stroll of Williams and Force India's Esteban Ocon put in stunning performances and will start second and third in place of the demoted Red Bulls.

Final practice had been reduced to just 16 minutes earlier in the day as standing water accumulated on long stretches of the track.

The pit straight was particularly badly effected and it was there that Romain Grosjean – moments after complaining that conditions were dangerous – spun out early in Q1.

"I f****** told you it was dangerous," he groaned over team radio.

The Haas driver's exit brought out the red flag and prompted a frustrating delay for drivers, engineers and fans alike.

When the action did eventually resume, conditions remained tricky – Vettel was forced to abandon an attempt at turn one early on, while McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne drifted sideways through Parabolica.

The dilemma over whether to opt for full wets or intermediates stumped most teams at some point during qualifying, but it was on the former that Hamilton produced his last-gasp quick lap to nudge ahead of the two Red Bulls on the timesheets and clinch another slice of F1 history in style.

His team-mate Valtteri Bottas qualified sixth, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel, Felipe Massa and Vandoorne.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:35.554
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:36.702
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:36.841
4. Lance Stroll (Williams) 1:37.032
5. Esteban Ocon (Force India) 1:37.719
6. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:37.833
7. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:37.987
8. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:38.064
9. Felipe Massa (Williams) 1:38.251
10. Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) 1:39.157