Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid with a blitz of speed that left defending champion and current leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes third, despite twice beating the record set at Monza by Colombian Juan-Pablo Montoya, in a Williams, in 2004.
Raikkonen’s record lap was clocked in one minute and 19.119 seconds at an average speed of 263.586 kph (163.785 mph). He was one-tenth of a second faster than both Vettel and Hamilton who set up a memorable three-way finale in a dramatic session, all of them setting records along the way.
Valtteri Bottas was fourth for Mercedes ahead of Max Verstappen of Red Bull and Romain Grosjean of Haas. Carlos Sainz was seventh on his birthday for Renault ahead of Esteban Ocon of Force India, Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso and Lance Stroll of Williams.
It was Ferrari’s first pole on home soil at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for Ferrari since 2010 and Raikkonen’s first pole in 12 years. At 38, he also became the oldest pole sitter since Nigel Mansell, aged, 41, took pole for the 1994 Australian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton forecast a tight battle in qualifying after finishing third fastest for Mercedes behind the Ferraris in Friday’s second practice for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
The defending world champion, who leads Friday’s fastest man, Sebastian Vettel, by 17 points in the title race, said his team had much work to do in just a few areas.
“We woke up to torrential rain this morning, which meant it was a less busy first session than normal,” he said.
“We did a few laps, but after that it was like having a day in the office when you don’t have too much work to do – I was even snoozing in the car at one point!
“But we did plenty of laps this afternoon in the dry and we could see that, like in Spa, we had a small gap to Ferrari on both the short and the long runs.
“My laps felt pretty good, but Ferrari were a little bit quicker today. We’re all working flat out right now in every part of the team, and we have work to do tonight as well.
“But there are some areas where we can see deficits, so I hope we can make a little step for qualifying.
“It has been a big battle for a number of races now, and they have had a small advantage since the middle of the summer, but we are pushing as hard as we can to overcome that.
“Although we are on Ferrari’s home turf, we have some great support out there and it’s always a boost to see that in the grandstands.
“It will be a very close fight tomorrow and, like every race weekend, we will be giving it everything we’ve got.”
Sebastian Vettel led a Ferrari one-two in a second practice session for the Italian Grand Prix.
The German clocked a best lap of one minute and 21.105 seconds to outstrip the Finn by two-tenths of a second at the high-speed Autodromo Nazionale.
Lewis Hamilton, who holds a 17-point championship lead over Vettel, finished third, 0.287 seconds slower than his title rival.
The British driver won from pole position last season, and has qualified first at Monza for the past four years, but, just as in Belgium last weekend, Mercedes are on the back foot.
Ferrari may have not celebrated a win on home turf since Fernando Alonso took the chequered flag in 2010. But Vettel, who escaped without damage following a spin into the gravel at the Parabolica, insisted he does not feel any extra pressure to deliver in front of the expectant tifosi.
“We are in Italy, in the home country of Ferrari, and everybody, not only the Ferrari drivers, can feel and sense that there is something special going on,” he said.
“Myself and Kimi have the two most special seats this weekend, and I am looking forward to it.
“People forget that for the last five years, Mercedes have been absolutely dominant, so it is good to be up with them, and a match, but we cannot take anything for granted.”