Lewis Hamilton blitzed Nico Rosberg on his way to pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, almost half a second quicker than his title rival.
In front of a huge crowd basking in the sunshine, Hamilton and Rosberg engaged in the latest round of their personal battle.
Rosberg put in a spate of purple sector times to go P1 but that was blitzed by Hamilton. The reigning World Champion was fastest in all the sectors on his way to a 1:21.358. That was 0.288s quicker than his team-mate.
On his second run Hamilton upped his pace to 1:21.135 to pull 0.478s clear of Rosberg.
Sebastian Vettel was third for Ferrari, qualifying ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas.
Ferrari’s main rival in the standings, Red Bull Racing, were sixth and seventh in qualifying with Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Max Verstappen.
Tyre strategy came into play in Q2 as Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull ventured out on the soft tyres with Hamilton and Rosberg comfortably quickest.
Ferrari, though, swapped to the supersofts to set their lap times while Red Bull were down in ninth and tenth places on the softs, forcing them to swap over to the supers to ensure their progression.
Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkberg and Esteban Gutierrez completed the top ten.
Gutierrez was the one of the stars of the afternoon as he progressed to Q3, his first showing in the final segment for this season. Gutierrez was seventh quickest in Q2 but qualified X when all was said and done.
Formula 1’s other Esteban did not fare as well.
Esteban Ocon’s qualifying session came to a premature end when his Manor ran into technical problems, leaving him stranded at the final chicane. “Same problem again,” he reported as he failed to set a lap time.
1 Hamilton Mercedes 1:21.135
2 Rosberg Mercedes 1:21.613
3 Vettel Ferrari 1:21.972
4 Raikkonen Ferrari 1:22.065
5 Bottas Williams 1:22.388
6 Ricciardo Red Bull 1:22.389
7 Verstappen Red Bull 1:22.411
8 Perez Force India 1:22.814
9 Hulkenberg Force India 1:22.836
10 Gutierrez Haas 1:23.184
11 Massa Williams 1:22.967
12 Grosjean Haas 1:23.092
13 Alonso McLaren 1:23.273
14 Wehrlein Manor1:23.315
15 Button McLaren 1:23.339
16 Sainz Toro Rosso 1:23.496
17 Kvyat Toro Rossso 1:23.825
18 Nasr Sauber 1:23.956
19 Ericsson Sauber 1:24.087
20 Palmer Renault 1:24.320
21 Magnussen Renault 1:24.436
22 Ocon Manor no time