Lewis Hamilton defied truly miserable conditions to overtake the legendary Michael Schumacher's record and claim the 69th pole position of his illustrious Formula One career during qualifying for the 2017 Italian Grand Prix on Saturday (2 September).

Mercedes' three-time world champion produced a blistering last-gasp lap of 1:35.554 following a two-and-a-half hour rain delay to secure first place on the grid at Monza, with title rival Sebastian Vettel a distant eighth and Kimi Raikkonen seventh on a deeply disappointing day for Ferrari at their spiritual home.

They will start the race sixth and fifth respectively, however, with Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo - who both drove brilliantly to qualify second and third - joining the likes of Nico Hulkenberg, Jolyon Palmer, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz at the back of the grid due to penalties relating to new power unit elements being fitted to their RB13s.

Those demotions mean that 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll, who managed to take fourth place for Williams, will become the youngest driver ever to start a grand prix from the front row.

Force India's Esteban Ocon will be bumped from fifth to third, while Hamilton's Silver Arrows teammate Valtteri Bottas is set to begin in fourth.

"We're in Ferrari's homeland but we have a lot of support for Mercedes," Hamilton, whose victory at Spa last weekend saw him trim Vettel's world championship lead to just seven points with eight races remaining, said afterwards.

"To do this here at such a historic circuit, I'm going to have some pasta tonight to celebrate. I came across the line and I didn't know if I had it but it felt a good lap. 69, I can't believe it."

Niki Lauda, non-executive director of Mercedes, added: "Unbelievable. I have no words. Lewis' lap was unbelievable. Valtteri didn't get it going. But if you look at the grid now, it is Hamilton, Stroll, Ocon, Bottas. That is unbelievable.

"It is not hard when you are a driver like Lewis. He can put everything together and do a fantastic lap."

Qualifying did initially get underway as planned at 13.00 BST, but proceedings were quickly red-flagged when Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who complained that conditions were too dangerous, aquaplaned down the pit straight and spun into the barriers. Only seven drivers managed to record times in a shortened final practice session earlier on Saturday morning.

Lewis Hamilton
Nobody in Formula One history has claimed more pole positions than three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton Getty Images