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Sainz beats Verstappen to take pole for Italian GP

AP PHOTO

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz has edged out Max Verstappen by 0.013 seconds to take pole position for the Italian Grand Prix.

The Spaniard outgunned Red Bull's Verstappen with his final lap to seal top spot to the delight of the Ferrari faithful, with Charles Leclerc third in the other scarlet car.

Australian Oscar Piastri qualified seventh.

Verstappen, who is bidding to become the first driver in history to win 10 consecutive races, trailed the Ferrari duo heading into the final runs at Monza's sun-cooked Temple of Speed on Saturday.

But the double world champion appeared to have delivered the goods when he usurped both men with his last lap after he had made a rare mistake in his first run by kicking up gravel on the exit of Variante Della Roggia.

However, Sainz, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday and has been speedy all weekend here, sent the tifosi wild by pipping Verstappen in the closing seconds. Leclerc finished third, just 0.067 sec back in a nip-and-tuck qualifying session.

"It was such an intense qualifying session," said Sainz. "All three of us went for it, and I went for it and it worked well. I really pushed hard on that last lap.

"I have had goosebumps since I crossed the finish line. Watching the crowd and getting out of the car and seeing this is incredible.

"Everywhere we go, it is just noise, support and encouragement, and it is the best feeling you can have as an athlete.

"Tomorrow I am going to give it everything for that first place and see if we can battle Max."

Verstappen, who was jeered by the partisan crowd, said: "It was good. Every session was very tight so I am happy to be second today.

"Tomorrow we will try to win the race, we have a quick race car, but I will enjoy today and then focus on tomorrow."

George Russell finished fourth with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton only eighth on an underwhelming afternoon for the seven-time world champion.

Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez took fifth, while Alex Albon, one of the standout performers of the season so far, impressed again with his modest Williams machinery to qualify sixth.

Piastri's McLaren teammate Lando Norris was ninth with the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso 10th.