Alonso storms to pole at Monza

Fernando Alonso took pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, ahead of Jenson Button. Felipe Massa was third, and Mark Webber 4th. Sebastian Vettel was back in 6th. Here is the full report:

Felipe Massa, with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button after qualifying

Felipe Massa, with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button after qualifying

Q1

While Timo Glock went out at the start, all of the other cars remained on the grid. But, by the time he had reached the first corner on his flying lap, he was blocked by Vitaly Petrov leaving the pits, leaving the Russian in danger of a penalty. Lewis Hamilton was the first top driver to go out, but was again blocked by Sakon Yamamoto.

Jenson Button suffered no such problems, setting a 1.23.6. Rubens Barrichello got within a few hundreths, but both were soon beaten by Felipe Massa, who was then promptly knocked back by Fernando Alonso, and then by Hamilton. The two Red Bulls were struggling, with Vettel and Webber 8th and 9th.

Fernando Alonso, knowing he needs a good result this weekend, soon took the fastest lap. His team-mate, Massa, soon topped that by a quarter of a second. Meanwhile, Adrian Sutil, who would have been expecting to get into the top 10, was only 11th, while Vitantonio Liuzzi was struggling in the dropout zone. Even worse, there was a problem with the car, meaning he couldn’t set a new time, leaving him out of Q1.

Sebastien Buemi, sitting in 17th and in danger of being knocked out, improved to 13th. Further back, Jarno Trulli managed to get ahead of Liuzzi into 18th place.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Jarno Trulli

19) Heikki Kovalainen

20) Vitantonio Liuzzi

21) Timo Glock

22) Lucas di Grassi

23) Bruno Senna

24) Sakon Yamamoto

Q2

Unlike Q1, many cars went out at the beginning. The thing to note was the tyres, as all of the top drivers apart from Lewis Hamilton stayed on the harder tyres. This would be hinting at Hamilton running a different strategy for the race. Alonso’s first lap of 1.22.7 set the benchmark.

However, Hamilton went straight into the 1.24.4 zone. Alonso soon went 2 tenths faster, while the Red Bulls continued to fall behind in 7th and 8th. In fact, they were so slow that Nico Rosberg soon edged out Vettel for 8th. He soon improved to 4th, but still well down on the Ferraris and Hamilton.

Rubens Barrichello soon got into the top 10, while Jenson Button went 4th. Kamui Kobayashi, struggling with the car, only got 13th. Adrian Sutil knocked Rubens out to take 10th. However, once Barrichello reclimed 10th, Sutil was stuck in 11th.

Michael Schumacher messed up his final 2 runs, leaving him 12th. At the last second, Jenson Button got within a few hundreths of Alonso at the front.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Adrian Sutil

12) Michael Schumacher

13) Kamui Kobayashi

14) Sebastien Buemi

15) Vitaly Petrov

16) Jaime Alguersuari

17) Pedro de la Rosa

Q3

Within the first few seconds, both McLarens, Ferraris and Robert Kubica went out. Felipe Massa went fastest first, before team-mate Alonso blasted his way into the 1.21 mark. Lewis Hamilton struggled and could only manage 4th, while Webber and Kubica were 5th and 6th.

Jenson Button, who held back at the start, went into 2nd. While most of the frontrunners pitted, Massa stayed out and took advantage of the empty track. While he set personal best sectors, he stayed 3rd. With only 4 minutes to go, both Williams cars and Rosberg went out.

While Hulkenberg was 8th, Barrichello made a mistake and cut the first corner. At the final set of runs, Button and Massa set personal bests, but could only manage 2nd and 3rd. Mark Webber got 4th, and Hamilton didn’t improve on his time, leaving Fernando Alonso on pole position.

This was the best possible result for the Tifosi, and it was only the second time this year that a Red Bull has not been on pole position. It is also the first time since Italy 2009 that a Red Bull was not on the front row. Also, it was the first time this year that Jenson Button was on the front row.

Full times from qualifying:

Pos.
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1′22.646 1′22.297 1′21.962
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1′23.085 1′22.354 1′22.084
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1′22.421 1′22.610 1′22.293
4 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1′23.431 1′22.706 1′22.433
5 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1′22.830 1′22.394 1′22.623
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1′23.235 1′22.701 1′22.675
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1′23.529 1′23.055 1′23.027
8 Nico Hülkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1′23.516 1′22.989 1′23.037
9 Robert Kubica Renault 1′23.234 1′22.880 1′23.039
10 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1′23.695 1′23.142 1′23.328
11 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1′23.493 1′23.199
12 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1′23.840 1′23.388
13 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1′24.273 1′23.659
14 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1′23.744 1′23.681
15 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1′24.086 1′23.819
16 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1′24.083 1′23.919
17 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1′24.442 1′24.044
18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1′25.540
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1′25.742
20 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1′25.774
21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1′25.974
22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1′26.847
23 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1′27.020
24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1′25.934
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