McLaren Men In Front With Ferrari In Reverse

A week which intensified with fierce speculation over his future could have a winning end as Lewis Hamilton put his McLaren Mercedes on pole position for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix. His quickest time was good enough to beat Jenson Button to first spot by 0.123 of a second.

Recording the 23rd pole of his career, the Englishman reacted with some surprise. His sole timed lap in Q3 was enough for fastest of the session and he said he was less than impressed with his own attempt, while crediting his team.

I think practice was a lot better for me, I did much better laps in practice,” said Hamilton, who was faster on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

“Generally I didn’t think that lap was anywhere near good enough and I was up a couple of tenths on my second lap, but I was in a train of cars so was not able to better my lap.

“Nonetheless I am happy, and happy for team – they are doing a fantastic job.

“They had great success in the last race with Jenson and to have us both up here is what they deserve.”

Jenson will want to dent Hamilton’s championship challenge in the race

Ensuring the team will start with both cars on the front row, Jenson Button was pleased to be started high up the grid, as he looks repeat what he did at last weekend’s at Spa when he remained ahead of the big incident which took his team-mate out of the race.

“For us both to be on the front row is fantastic for the team. The last three races we have shown strength, and qualifying both cars on front row is great, so thank you very much.

“It doesn’t matter who is alongside you, [the first corner] is always an interesting corner, especially because it is such a long run down there. You cannot plan it.”

Massa will start ahead of Alonso for the first time this season

One of the few things which have remained the same this year has been Fernando out-qualifying his team-mate, but it changed at Monza as Felipe Massa qualified high in third place in a turn-around while Alonso struggled to tenth. Massa is confident of a strong performance in the race, in an area which he knows well.

“I am happy with the car. I am very happy with the performance and concentrated for the race.

“Unfortunately I’ve never won here in F1, but I’m always doing good races in F1. I enjoy it a lot, I lived close by when I did Formula Renault.

“I hope we have fantastic race tomorrow.”

Alonso looked a favourite for pole in the first two sessions, but an issue in Q3 left him out of the battle for top spot

Fernando Alonso had a tough Q3 as an issue with the car’s anti-roll bar prevented him from advancing any further than tenth position on the grid. The Spaniard mused that pole position had been on the cards until the problem struck, and that he would do everything he could to finish as high as he can.

“It’s a shame because I think it would have been the easiest pole position of the year for us,” said Alonso.

“We did 1m24.1s in Q1 with an easy lap and then looking at it, 1m24.0s was, let’s say, easy for us to do.

“We lost one big opportunity but nothing we can do now. We’ll try to be strong tomorrow, the car will be fixed and we will see what we can do from 10th.

“Something broke in the car in Q3, so we had no time to fix it, so we went out just to see if we could beat some of the cars but unfortunately we were not able because we lost too much performance,” he added.

Di Resta has been recently linked with McLaren and Mercedes, his display in qualifying will have done his future chances little harm

His team-mate was one of the stars at last weekend’s Belgian GP but it was Paul Di Resta who stole the show for Force India after posting the fourth-quickest time, though a penalty for changing his gearbox means he will drop five places and start the race from ninth. The Scotsman was not downbeat about the penalty, and thanked the team for their work this weekend.

“You have to give the guys credit. We obviously had a good simulator session and a good baseline to come here. We had a good philosophy, and each time we went on track we slowly dialled it in.

“Third in final practice, I was little hesitant as to whether we would be able to repeat that. But we ran in the top four throughout all of qualifying, and that shows the speed was there throughout the whole day.

“Unfortunately I start ninth, but if there was any day you need a result like that to influence your race and put you in a points position, then it was today. We’re still in the top 10, we’re starting in the points, so we really just need to look ahead.”

Mercedes did not have much aid from their double DRS system

Mercedes were a quiet tip for pole but Schumacher and Rosberg had to settle for fifth and seventh respectively. Despite not being close to the pole time, the two men still believe they can be a big factor in the race.

“We have a good understanding of what the tyres are going to do, so I’m quite confident that we can have a good race, and be in the region where we were in qualifying, or maybe even look forward.”

“We need to see how the day tomorrow will develop, because we are not that far off,” said the seven-time world champion.

“But we might be just enough behind that it might be difficult to challenge them. If you take the qualifying performance and you extract that to the race, maybe that’s not completely true. It’s something to prove tomorrow.”

Vettel is finding a win unlikely this weekend

Sebastian Vettel had a quiet session as the German driver will line up fifth, moving up one place from the sixth place he qualified in due to Di Resta’s grid drop. He ruled out Red Bull’s chances of a podium as he conceded McLaren and Ferrari are faster than the Austrian team.

“I think it will be a pretty difficult race,” said Vettel. “In terms of strategy I think everyone is looking at the same thing.

“Therefore it is difficult to do something, or try something different.

“In terms of pace we should be alright in the race but I think we cannot expect at this stage to race McLaren and Ferrari.

“They have just been too quick all weekend, so if we do then it will be a surprise. And if we do it will be a welcome surprise.”

Italian GP Grid

1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.010s
2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.133s + 0.123s
3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m24.247s + 0.237s
4. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.304s + 0.294s *
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m24.540s + 0.530s
6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m24.802s + 0.792s
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.833s + 0.823s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m24.855s + 0.845s
9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.109s + 1.099s
10. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.678s + 1.668s
11. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m24.809s + 0.567s
12. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m24.820s + 0.578s **
13. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.901s + 0.659s
14. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m25.042s + 0.800s
15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.312s + 1.070s
16. Jerome d’Ambrosio Lotus-Renault 1m25.408s + 1.166s
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.441s + 1.199s
18. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m26.382s + 2.207s
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m26.887s + 2.712s
20. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.039s + 2.864s
21. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.073s + 2.898s
22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m27.441s + 3.266s
23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m27.629s + 3.454s
24. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes ***

* = Penalty, Will start 5 places lower
** = Penalty, Will start 10 places lower
*** = No time set

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