Italian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton claims pole in Monza

    Lewis Hamilton celebrates claiming pole position at Monza.

    Story highlights

    • Lewis Hamilto to start on pole at Italian Grand Prix
    • Mercedes driver outpaces teammate Nico Rosberg
    • Hamilton equals record of Ayrton Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio

    (CNN)Lewis Hamilton may have started from an unfamiliar position at the back of the grid during last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix but the reigning F1 champion is back on pole after dominating qualifying in Monza Saturday.

    The British driver outpaced Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg, who will start second on the grid for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, by close to half a second.
      "I was right in the sweet spot today and I was able to get an exceptional lap time out of it," Hamilton said in comments carried by the AFP news agency. "What this team has achieved in phenomenal."
      Hamilton currently leads the driver's standings by nine points, having trailed Rosberg at one stage by 43 points.
      He was forced to start from 20th position in Spa six days ago for going over the permitted number of engine parts in one season but heroically climbed the field to finish third and maintain a slim lead atop the driver's championship table from Rosberg who finished first.
      By ensuring he will start at the top of the field Sunday, Hamilton also equaled the record of Ayrton Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio in claiming a fifth career pole at the legendary Monza track.
      "I feel proud and honoured to be mentioned amongst such greats as Senna and Fangio," Hamilton said. "Never in a million years did I expect my name to be mentioned in the same sentence and I am very proud of that."
      The Ferrari's of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were third and fourth fastest respectively at Monza Saturday while Valtteri Bottas of Williams was fifth.
      Daniel Ricciardo and Dutch starlet, Max Verstappen, both of Red Bull recorded the sixth and seventh fastest qualifying times. Sergio Perez was eighth ahead of his Force India team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
      Esteban Gutierrez booked the tenth fastest time for Haas.
      Elsewhere Saturday, it was announced that former F1 champion Jenson Button will not be on the F1 grid in 2017.
      A statement released by the McLaren team revealed that Button will sign a new two year contract but will be replaced as a race drivers by Belgian youngster Stoffel Vandoorne.
      Button will remain part of the McLaren team, focusing on development, and "available to race" if circumstances require it, said McLaren boss, Ron Dennis.
        Button added that while he is looking forward to his new role he is "very definitely not retiring."
        Williams driver, Felipe Massa, announced earlier this week that he would be retiring at the end of the 2016 season.