Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton saw off a strong Ferrari challenge at the Italian team's home Grand Prix to seal his seventh pole position in a row and 11th in 12 races.

The Mercedes driver, whose team mate and title rival Nico Rosberg will start fourth after engine problems forced him to revert to using one without the latest updates, now has 49 career poles.

The pole, in bright sunshine, was the Briton's fourth at Monza and 23rd in succession for Mercedes, one short of the record set by the Williams team in 1992-93.

Drivers standings (top-10)
1 L Hamilton - 227
2 N Rosberg - 199
3 S Vettel - 160
4 K Raikkonen - 82
5 F Massa - 82
6 V Bottas - 79
7 D Kvyat - 57
8 D Ricciardo - 51
9 R Grosjean - 38
10 M Verstappen - 26

Kimi Raikkonen joined him on the front row with Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel qualifying third.

"These guys did a great job, they are very close," said Hamilton, who leads Rosberg by 28 points in the championship, of his Ferrari rivals.

Vettel, who could become the first driver since Stirling Moss in the 1950s to win at Monza with three different teams, hoped Ferrari would have a chance on Sunday but made clear Hamilton was the overwhelming favourite.

"I think it's a fantastic result, second and third and very close to Lewis," said the German, racing for the first time in Italy in Ferrari red.

"Sorry Lewis, but I wouldn't mind if you are not on the podium," he grinned. "You can be, but if we are both ahead of you that would obviously be a dream come true.

"I think dreaming is allowed but you have to be realistic. It's going to be a tough race tomorrow and these guys have some serious pace."

The Williams pairing of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas qualified fifth and sixth with Mexican Sergio Perez seventh for Force India.

Toro Rosso's Dutch teenager Max Verstappen failed to set a lap time after his car's engine cover blew off in the first phase of qualifying - the first time he has failed to reach the second stage in his 12-race career.

He should move up the grid once a mass of penalties on cars ahead, including both Red Bulls and McLarens, are taking into account.

Starting grid (top-10):

1. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes
2. Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari 
3. Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari
4. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes 
5. Felipe Massa - Williams-Mercedes 
6. Valtteri Bottas - Williams-Mercedes
7. Sergio Perez - Force India
8. Romain Grosjean - Lotus - Mercedes
9. Nico Huelkenberg - Force India - Mercedes
10. Marcus Ericsson - Sauber - Ferrari

The Ferrari drivers will start behind Hamilton [EPA]

Source: Agencies