Formula 1

Tifosi Delighted As Alonso Claims Pole In Italy

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Fernando Alonso claimed Ferrari's first pole position since Brazil 2008 in qualifying today at Monza, much to the delight of the watching Tifosi.

The Spaniard topped the timesheets in all three parts of qualifying as he became only the second driver to keep Red Bull off pole position this season.

Jenson Button will start alongside the Spaniard on the front row of the grid, with Felipe Massa and Mark Webber third and fourth.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton had some untidy laps in Q3, and will start the race fifth, alongside fellow title contender Sebastian Vettel.

The two Nicos, Rosberg and Hulkenberg, occupy the fourth row of the grid, and Robert Kubica and Rubens Barrichello make up the top ten.

In Free Practice 3, the top five drivers were separated by 0.25 seconds, and this qualifying session was lining up to be one of the closest of the season. Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the morning, and the only man before this weekend to have deprived Red Bull of a pole position was threatening to do the same today. Fernando Alonso was also looking dangerous in practice at his first Italian Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver. Mark Webber stopped out on track in the final practice session, but the Red Bulls, even at a track where they were expecting to be less competitive than usual, would be hard to bet against for pole position.

The big news in the build-up to qualifying was the McLaren f-duct. Jenson Button was using it, and as a result could opt for a higher downforce configuration to help him through the corners, and Hamilton was using the traditional skinny Monza rear-wing and no f-duct. It is unusual for teammates to go for such varied set-ups on a dry race weekend, but the McLaren duo were continuing to set similar times. As it turned out, Button appeared to have made the better choice, at least for qualifying, but he may find himself a sitting duck on the straights in tomorrow's race.

First blood in qualifying went to Ferrari, but it was Felipe Massa who was fastest, setting a time of 1:22.421, two tenths faster than second-placed man Alonso. Hamilton and Button were close behind, but Red Bull were lacking in pace at this early stage in sixth and seventh.

Both of the Italian drivers bowed out of qualifying in Q1. Jarno Trulli in the Lotus was obviously expecting this, but Tonio Liuzzi suffered reliability problems with his Force India. Trulli, Heikki Kovalainen, Liuzzi, Timo Glock, Lucas Di Grassi, Bruno Senna and Sakon Yamamoto will line up in the last seven grid positions for tomorrow's race. Glock will take a five place grid penalty for changing his gearbox.

Adrian Sutil and Michael Schumacher were the big names that failed to get into Q3. They will start the grand prix from eleventh and twelfth. Kamui Kobayashi, Sebastien Buemi, Vitaly Petrov, Jaime Alguersuari and Vitaly Petrov will take up thirteenth to seventeenth, although Petrov may get a penalty for blocking Glock during Q1.

Alonso topped the timesheets in Q2 with a 1:22.297. Button was second fastest and Hamilton was third. Massa was ahead of Vettel and Webber in fourth.

Nico Rosberg, Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg hung back in Q3 while the championship contenders (and Massa and Robert Kubica) headed straight out onto the track, eager to set a time. With three minutes gone Alonso set the first sub-82 second time of the weekend, with a 1:21.962.

After all drivers had set their first flying laps, the order was Alonso, Button, Massa and Hamilton. Massa stayed out for another flying lap, while the other three dived back into the pits for fresh rubber. In the relative calm, the two Williams and Rosberg ventured out of the pits for their only Q3 laps.

Alonso aborted his final flying lap as he realised that he would not beat his initial time. However, Jenson Button could not match the Spaniard on his final attempt, and Felipe Massa stayed third. Mark Webber took fourth from Hamilton, who will start tomorrow's race fifth after a poor final sector on his last attempt.

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