Sebastian Vettel claimed his tenth pole of the season and the twenty-fifth of his career following a stunning performance at Monza.
The reigning champion claimed the top spot for the Italian Grand Prix with a last lap run of 1:22.275 – a startling 0.45 of-a-second ahead of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton
Jenson Button was next up in his McLaren taking 3rd spot, with Fernando Alonso (4th, Ferrari) a further 0.1s in arrears.
At a track that many had claimed was Red Bull’s bogey circuit, Vettel’s pace was certainly a frightening prospect. For McLaren and Ferrari, if Red Bull have cracked Monza, it could make for a long afternoon.
Admittedly, it wasn’t all about Red Bull up front. Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber found himself in 5th following a strategy error. Rather than attempt two shorter stints, the Australian opted for a single long stint, rendering Webber unable to garner the best from his machine. Felipe Massa rounded out the top six, with a best just under a second shy of Vettel.
Renault’s Vitaly Petrov was the quickest of the rest. The Russian kept the Mercedes pair (fronted by a rejuvenated Michael Schumacher), while Bruno Senna made the top ten once again, although did not set a time in Q3, opting instead to save tyres for the race.
Paul di Resta only just missed out on Q1 in the dying moments. The Scott was beaten to the final element of qualifying by a determined Senna, rendering the Force India driver a sixth row occupant.
Adrian Sutil made it an all-Force India row six, with both Williams (led by Rubens Barrichello) commandeering the seventh row of the grid. However, Williams rookie Pastor Maldonado can count himself lucky – the Venezuelan crashed at the exit of Parabolica, destroying his front wing, but leaving his suspension and other components unscathed.
Both Sauber’s struggled for balance around the Monza circuit, leaving Sergio Perez 15th and Kamui Kobayashi 17th. The pair sandwiched the Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi, who finished his Q2 session early.
Unfortunately for Toro Rosso, Jaime Alguersuari was unable to join Buemi in Q2. “The Squire” found himself dumped out in the first section of qualifying thanks to a late improvement by Barrichello. The early exit does however mean Alguersuari possesses an unused spare set of tyres for the race tomorrow.
Alguersuari had little worry about from behind. With a comfortable gap to his rear, the Spaniard kept both Lotus’ (led by Jarno Trulli) on the tenth row. It was a rare victory for Trulli, who has well and truly been beaten in qualifying this year by Heikki Kovalainen.
Both Virgin Racing drivers found themselves one second shy of Trulli, although Timo Glock (21st) suffered an issue with his DRS, often refusing to close approaching corners. Jerome d’Ambrosio, for once comfortable with the balance of the Virgin, came within two-hundredths of his more experienced teammate.
The HRT F1’s were a further half-second back on the final row of the grid, with Daniel Ricciardo beating Vitantonio Liuzzi in qualifying for the first time.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m22.275s 2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.725s + 0.450 3. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.777s + 0.502 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.841s + 0.566 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m22.972s + 0.697 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.188s + 0.913 7. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m23.530s + 1.255 8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m23.777s + 1.502 9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.477s + 2.202 10. Bruno Senna Renault No time Q2 cut-off time: 1m24.157s Gap ** 11. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.163s + 1.249 12. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m24.209s + 1.295 13. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m24.648s + 1.734 14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m24.726s + 1.812 15. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.845s + 1.931 16. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.932s + 2.018 17. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.065s + 2.151 Q1 cut-off time: 1m25.164s Gap * 18. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.334s + 1.358 19. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m26.647s + 2.671 20. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m27.184s + 3.208 21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m27.591s + 3.615 22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m27.609s + 3.633 23. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m28.054s + 4.078 24. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m28.231s + 4.255 107% time: 1m29.854s * Gap to quickest in Q1 ** Gap to quickest in Q2