LEWIS HAMILTON set the fastest lap in Formula One history to seal pole for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
The reigning world champion flew around Monza’s 3.54-mile circuit at a blistering 164.267mph on his way to a new track record at the Temple of Speed.
Valtteri Bottas joins his team-mate in yet another Mercedes front-row lockout – the Finn just seven hundredths behind Hamilton – with McLaren driver Carlos Sainz a surprise third.
Hamilton said: “It was not too bad. It was a fantastic performance from the team.
“In terms of timing, when they put us on the track – but it was not the easiest. You saw how close it was at the end.
“It demanded a clean lap and I did it. Valtteri was very, very close, pushing.”
But Ferrari’s troubles went from bad to worse to horrendous.
On a torrid afternoon for Ferrari, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel finished 13th and 17th.
It marks the first time in 36 years that both Italian cars will start Ferrari’s home race outside the top ten.
Max Verstappen will be disappointed after finishing fifth, one spot behind Racing Point’s Sergio Perez.
While Ferrari are in the midst of their worst crisis in a generation, Hamilton tightened his uncompromising stranglehold of the sport.
The Brit eclipsed Kimi Raikkonen’s one-lap record of 163.785mph, set by the former world champion on his way to pole two years ago.
This was Hamilton’s 93rd career pole, his seventh in Monza, and he will start as the favourite to win for a 90th time on Sunday, which would move him within just one victory of Michael Schumacher’s record.
Ferrari chief executive Louis Camilleri has given his blessing for beleaguered team principal Mattia Binotto to continue in his role.
But the 50-year-old will face further questions over his future here on Saturday evening after another miserable display from his under-performing team.
Vettel was the first to fall, knocked out of Q1 after he came unstuck in traffic as he squabbled for position through the Parabolica in order to maximise the tow along the pit straight.
Vettel said: “What a mess”, after he failed to improve on his time.
Leclerc made it through to Q2, but failed to trouble the top ten, eliminated in 13th.
He added: “The best I can do, the best I can do.”
In 70 editions of Ferrari’s home race, when both cars have gone to the line, the Italian team have never had both drivers finish outside the top ten – but that streak would appear to be in grave danger.