Hamilton heads McLaren lockout in Monza

Lewis Hamilton has taken pole position for the Italian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso was expected to challenge him, but a slip-up by Ferrari left him languishing in 10th place, while Felipe Massa enjoyed 3rd on the grid.

Jenson Button joined Hamilton on the front row, while Paul di Resta impressed with 4th. Predictably, the Red Bulls struggled massively, with Vettel 6th and Mark Webber not even making it into Q3. Here is what happened:

Q1

One-off Lotus driver Jerome D’Ambrosio was one of the first out, setting a 1:26.712, while Nico Hulkenberg went straight on at turn 1. Teammate Paul di Resta briefly went a second faster, before he was displaced by Nico Rosberg.

Local hero Fernando Alonso set a 1:24.5, while Hulkenberg was forced to stop, after losing a gear on his Force India. While other drivers scrabbled to beat the Ferrari’s time, Alonso improved on it by another 0.4 seconds.

After several mistakes on his opening laps, Lewis Hamilton set the fastest sector 1 and 2 of the session, but lost a tenth in sector 3, and went 2nd. Jean-Eric Vergne was the first to take on the medium tyre, but didn’t improve on his time.

Jerome D’Ambrosio pulled himself out of the drop zone, but was pushed all the way by Heikki Kovalainen. Nico Hulkenberg was eliminated from Q1 for the first time in his career.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:26.441

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:26.887

20) Timo Glock – 1:27.039

21) Charles Pic – 1:27.073

22) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:27.441

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:27.629

24) Nico Hulkenberg – N/A

Q2

After one Force India was taken out of Q1, the sole remaining car driven by Paul di Resta was out first in Q2. All drivers took on the medium tyres, apart from Jerome D’Ambrosio.

Fernando Alonso’s time of 1:24.2 was again the time to beat. Jenson Button was fastest in S1 and S2, but again fell short to come 2nd. Lewis Hamilton was a tenth off his teammate, but claimed he was held up.

The Red Bulls were off the pace, with Vettel 9th and Webber 13th. The Mercedes drivers both made mistakes on their flying laps, leaving both drivers several tenths off the frontrunners.

After Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado all improved on their times, the Red Bulls were in serious trouble. Both left the pits with a few minutes to go, but only Vettel was able to move back into the top 10. Mark Webber was 11th, 0.06 seconds off Raikkonen.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Mark Webber – 1:24.809

12) Pastor Maldonado – 1:24.820

13) Sergio Perez – 1:24.901

14) Bruno Senna – 1:25.042

15) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:25.312

16) Jerome D’Ambrosio – 1:25.408

17) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:25.441

Q3

The Ferraris were first out of the pits for Q3. However, on their first lap they played a very interesting tactical piece – Alonso slowing down, giving a tow to Massa’s car. This small aero advantage put Massa on top with a 1:24.436.

Jenson Button got to within a tenth of Massa, before Hamilton went 0.4 seconds faster than anybody else. Alonso and Massa pitted, with Fernando not yet setting a fast lap.

Nico Rosberg went 4th, with Vettel back in 5th, before they were both displaced by Michael Schumacher. On his first lap with a minute to go, Paul di Resta immediately went into 2nd position.

It appeared as if Ferrari were about to repeat their slipstreaming trick, but Massa appeared to pull away from Alonso, setting his own fast lap, going 3rd on the grid. Alonso’s sector 1 was unusually poor, leaving him 10th.

Jenson Button improved on his time, but could only get within a tenth of his teammate. Lewis Hamilton led a McLaren front row lockout of Monza, while their rivals stumbled. Although Di Resta qualified in 4th, he will take a gearbox penalty for tomorrow’s race.

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