Sebastian Vettel will start tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix from the front of the field after securing his twenty-fifth pole position at Monza by half a second from Lewis Hamilton.
The anticipated challenge from McLaren did not come to the fore at the end of today's qualifying session after both Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button, who will start from third, aborted their final qualifying laps.
Fernando Alonso will start from fourth ahead of Mark Webber, who did just one run during Q3. Felipe Massa starts from sixth, Vitaly Petrov seventh, and Michael Schumacher out-qualified Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to take eighth. Bruno Senna, competing in his second race of the season, will start tenth.
The battle for pole was expected to be much closer, especially after the McLaren drivers and Sebastian Vettel began trading fastest lap-times soon after qualifying got underway. Jenson Button was an early pace-setter in Q1, but Vettel and Hamilton also took their turn at the top of the timesheets – all using the slower prime tyre. Hamilton came out on top in Q1 with a time of 1:23.976, but was only a tenth ahead of Vettel.
Pastor Maldonado opened his rear-wing too early during Q1 and clouted the barrier in Parabolica. He made it back to the pits – minus his front wing – but Williams managed to get the Venezuelan driver back out on track and he made it through to Q2.
It was left for Jaime Alguersuari to qualify in P18 for the fourth time this season and drop out of the session at this early stage. The usual suspects, much to the disgust of Eddie Jordan, make up the back six rows of the grid once again, and line-up on the grid in pairs. Jarno Trulli leads an all-Team Lotus tenth row, Timo Glock was the best of the Virgin Racing drivers on Row 11, and Daniel Ricciardo out-qualified HRT team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi at the back. All were comfortably within the 107% time.
Vettel was the first man of the weekend to set a lap below 83 seconds in Q2, setting a time of 1:22.914 on the softer option tyre. Hamilton initially tried to get through Q1 using only the prime tyre, but McLaren decided the time of 1:23.740 might not be enough to guarantee a place in the top ten and sent the Brit out on a set of the soft tyres. Hamilton ended the session third, behind team-mate Button and pace-setter Vettel. As it happened, Hamilton was comfortably through with his first lap-time, and had no need to use that set of the option compound.
Paul di Resta was on course for a place in the top ten but was pushed out by a last-minute lap from Bruno Senna at the end of Q2. Di Resta can, however, take some consolation from the fact that he out-qualified Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil, who will start alongside him on the sixth row of the Monza grid. The two Williams drivers, led by Rubens Barrichello, make up Row 7, Sergio Perez will start fifteenth ahead of Sebastien Buemi and Kamui Kobayashi. The top ten shoot-out would be contested by the drivers from just five teams: Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault.
Felipe Massa led the Ferrari drivers out of the pits at the start of Q3. Fernando Alonso's first lap was a 1:22.999 but this was beaten almost straightaway by Jenson Button, who put in a time of 1:22.777. Vettel topped all of these with a 1:22.613, a time Hamilton, who was next over the line, could not beat. However, Hamilton did beat his team-mate's first attempt, and went second with a 1:22.725.
It was obvious for most of the qualifying session that only Vettel, Hamilton and Button had a realistic chance of taking pole position for the Italian Grand Prix. This trio dived back into the pits after their first runs to take on a new set of the soft tyres.
Hamilton made a mistake and had to abort his bid for pole position. Button also abandoned his lap, diving into the pits rather than crossing the line. Despite nobody else being able to challenge Vettel for pole, the German completed his lap anyway. The time was a 1:22.275, an improvement on his previous attempt, putting Vettel on pole with half a second in hand over Hamilton.
Italian Grand Prix 2011: Qualifying Results
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:22.275||15||Report|
|5||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:22.972||14||Report|
|10||9||Bruno Senna||Renault||No Q3 Time||20||Report|
|11||15||Paul di Resta||Force India||1:24.157||15||Report|
|12||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:24.163||18||Report|
|16||18||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso||1:24.845||18||Report|
|18||19||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||1:25.334||11||Report|
|19||21||Jarno Trulli||Team Lotus||1:26.647||12||Report|
|20||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Team Lotus||1:27.184||13||Report|
|21||24||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||1:27.591||9||Report|
|22||25||Jerome D’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing||1:27.609||11||Report|
|107% qualifying time||1:29.854|