Magnificent Monza


There were plenty of surprises during qualifying for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix, if you ignored the front row of the grid, that is.

In many ways, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Red Bull locked out the front row given their imperious form, but on a track that hasn’t always suited them in the past, it is an ominous sign for their rivals.

Mark Webber looks like the man most likely to challenge team mate Sebastian Vettel tomorrow, should the weather remain dry, and most importantly for the Australian, if he can get a good start. On a weekend where he is celebrating his final European Grand Prix, it’d be a great story should Webber succeed tomorrow.

Red Bull weren’t the only team celebrating after qualifying though. Nico Hulkenberg produced the lap of the season so far to qualify his Sauber an incredible third on the grid, while a mention must also go to Toro Rosso.

They’re often forgotten about at the Italian Grand Prix, given the focus is always on Ferrari. But both Toro Rosso drivers showed great speed today to give the team something to cheer about at their home race. Daniel Ricciardo had been as high as fourth earlier in the session, but will start seventh, while an error from Jean Eric Vergne on his last lap means he starts tenth.

While they were celebrating afterwards, there were several high profile drivers who were far from happy, not least three of Vettel’s championship rivals.

Fernando Alonso was deeply frustrated with Ferrari after their strategy didn’t pay off and he could only manage fifth, one place behind team mate Felipe Massa. The Spaniard reportedly accused the team of ruining his qualifying session on the radio as the breakdown between him and Ferrari continues. Talk still persists in the paddock of Alonso perhaps taking a sabbatical from the sport next season.

Even still, he still had it better than either Kimi Raikkonen or Lewis Hamilton did, who will start from eleventh and twelfth places tomorrow respectively. Hamilton was heavily critical of himself, saying he “drove like an idiot” while it was a bad day for Lotus all round as Romain Grosjean also failed to make it into Q3.

With several top drivers out of position and a possible threat of rain on race day, it has all the ingredients of being a very intriguing Italian Grand Prix.

Will Vettel’s march on towards a fourth consecutive title continue, or can Ferrari bring themselves back into title contention and delight the Tifosi with a home win? All will be revealed after 53 laps of the Autodromo di Monza.