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Fernando Alonso aces it in thrilling Monza qualifying
Fernando Alonso aces it in thrilling Monza qualifying
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Sep 2010   |  4:01 pm GMT  |  122 comments

Fernando Alonso took pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, his first as a Ferrari driver, with a blistering early lap, which neither he nor his competitors could beat.

It was his 19th career pole and the first for Ferrari since Brazil 2008, a drought of 30 races.

Alonso on pole in Italy (Darren Heath)

The Spaniard was in determined form on his first outing in front of the tifosi and he now has a win on his debut in Bahrain and a Monza pole to his name. The team brought him in to deliver like a champion and although there have been quite a few bumpsin the road and mistakes along the way in his first season, there is no doubt that this result restored a lot of confidence and put the shine back onto the Prancing Horse after a difficult couple of weeks.

“Normally I don’t get too excited about pole position, but this one is special, ” said Alonso.

It has been close all weekend and qualifying was no exception. The final margin between Alonso and Jenson Button in second place was a tenth of a second. Felipe Massa was third, his best qualifying since the ill fated German Grand Prix back in July, where he was subject to team orders. Massa was fastest in the first qualifying session, but peaked too early, failing to match his competitiveness level in the remaining two sessions.

Button was delighted with second, well ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton, who opted not to run the F Duct wing on his car and made a series of mistakes in the vital laps at the end. Button intended his decision to help him in the Grand Prix, where he believes he will be able to make the soft tyres last longer by having more downforce and thus letting the tyres slide less. He was surprised to find himself ahead of Hamilton.

“Over a single lap, the car is good, but its real benefit will be felt in the race tomorrow, when we should have stronger long-run pace,” said Button. “We’re running more downforce than most people; that’ll make it more tricky over the first couple of laps, but we should be more consistent in the race.”

Button is the third slowest car through the speed trap at 329 km/h (205mph) and is a massive 15 km/h slower than his team mate, who is running a low downforce rear wing with no drag reducing F Duct. Fastest through the speed trap is Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari at 348 km/h, which is 217 mph.

The Monza grid goes some way to reversing the results of Spa, with Webber and Hamilton on the back foot in fourth and fifth places while Alonso and Button, who both crashed in Spa, in the ascendant. Webber is pleased with his fourth place, which is more than he expected on a track which was never expected to suit Red Bull as much as Ferrari and McLaren.

Sebastian Vettel is the one left scratching his head again. He was faster than his team mate all weekend and in both the first two qualifying sessions, but fell behind when it counted to sixth place.

ITALIAN GRAND PRIX, Monza, Qualifying
1. Alonso Ferrari 1:22.646 1:22.297 1:21.962
2. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.085 1:22.354 1:22.084
3. Massa Ferrari 1:22.421 1:22.610 1:22.293
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:23.431 1:22.706 1:22.433
5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.830 1:22.394 1:22.623
6. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:23.235 1:22.701 1:22.675
7. Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.529 1:23.055 1:23.027
8. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:23.516 1:22.989 1:23.037
9. Kubica Renault 1:23.234 1:22.880 1:23.039
10. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:23.695 1:23.142 1:23.328
11. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:23.493 1:23.199
12. Schumacher Mercedes 1:23.840 1:23.388
13. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.273 1:23.659
14. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.744 1:23.681
15. Petrov Renault 1:24.086 1:23.819
16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:24.083 1:23.919
17. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.442 1:24.044
18. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:25.540
19. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:25.742
20. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:25.774
21. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.934
22. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.974
23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:26.847
24. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:27.020

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On 25 September 2005, Fernando Alonso won the Formula One World Driver’s Championship title at the age of 24, breaking Emerson Fittipaldi’s record of being the youngest Formula One World Drivers’ Champion.


Hi James,

Whatever happened to the overlaid car comparisons? It would be great to see the difference between Button’s set-up and Hamilton/Alonso going through the classic corners of Monza.


I agree. I’ll mention that to the director


Not read every comment but people are jumping to conclusions about Lewis’s setup. There’s nothing wrong with it. It has different pro’s and cons. As for his Q3 performance which is the 1st time all weekend he’s been ‘off pace’, Whitmarsh clearly pointed out in his interview last night that if you look at sector times, LH was actually quickest on all of them just couldn’t string them all together on the same lap due to traffic which was his error.

Given Vettels /Alonso’s bad habbits at them moment it could well be a Willams or Renault in 1st after the 1st lap with the 1st 3 row cars in the pits 🙂


Come on Massa, overtake Alonso at the first corner then pull over for him at the last lap.

We know you can do it and we know you need to.


Now that would actually be allowed according to the FIA!! If Massa refused to do that maybe mclaren would get a penalty under the Ferrari International Assistance guidelines!!


F duct or no f duct, Ferrari for the win


Does anyone know why the tweet feed is not working?


It’s a Twitter problem. Proving hard to fix


I just can understand how Jensons’s f-duct made the car slower than the opposition (not counting Lewis for obvious reasons).

The Mclaren f-duct is supposed to be class of the field with untouchable top speed. How could it be that most of the others are quicker??


He added lots of wing to increase downforce, the F-duct helps with that but it is not a miracle. I guess RB has more downforce by design and Ferraris have improved a lot there and have always been very good in braking, so Jenson had to put more wing and trust in his engine which is the most powerful


But it is still surprising to see that Mclaren didn’t have a slightly compromised wing, one that would produce a higher top speed. It seems a lot of people think that Jenson will be a sitting duck on the back straight and/or the main straight. After all, he’s 22nd in top speed with only the HRT cars slower… For example, Rosberg is just behind on the grid and he’s 13 km/h quicker at the speed trap…


The F-duct’s purpose is to shed drag from a high-downforce (and consequently high-drag) rear wing.

If everyone else is running a low-downforce (and therefore low-drag) rear wing, they probably have less drag in their NORMAL state than the McLaren does AFTER it sheds what drag it can with the F-duct.

Jenson has more downforce, and can therefore brake later and carry more speed through the corners; that’s how he manages the same lap time while having a lower top speed. Without the F-duct, he would likely not have made it out of Q1 with the amount of wing (and drag) he is running.

I hope that helps.


Others are quicker because they lapped the circuit quicker.


During the race compare the size of Lewis’ and Jensons’ rear wings. Ferrari have got their F-duct to work with a smaller rear wing it would seem. Also if you consider that the Renault is less powerful than the Mercedes, how did Vettel get near Button in Spa if the McLaren F-duct is so good? McLaren were first and it works well, but this game always changes.


look at the size of the rear wing on jensons car. its like the side of my house and the flap is ginormous on it also.


Because he chose to carry more wing for the down force it would give him…..more downforce = lower top speed. It’s a balancing of options.


Because Jenson used alot more downforce compared to everyone else. Did you see the size of his rear wing compared to everyone elses??


As I (think) I understand it, the f-duct means that they are able to run a steeper rear wing so that in the corners they have the best downforce.

However, in the straight, even though the f-duct allows Mclaren to reduce the impact of the steeper rear wing, it still ends up creating more drag than the extremely small rear wing that everyone else is running.

Take a look at how steep Jenson’s wing is compared to everyone else’s (including Lewis’s). You’ll see it’s way steeper. Normally (I would assume) in Monza they would not be able to run such a steep wing but with the f-duct, they can.

What surprises me is that they didn’t have more of a compromise wing – i.e. keep the f-duct but have a more moderate wing angle – they might not have been so great in the corners but they wouldn’t have lost as much speed on the straights.


Button is running a significantly higher down-force rear wing than Hamilton to help him through the corners.

The f-duct doesn’t stop all the drag from the rear-wing it just reduces it, also the f-duct doesn’t just instantly stall the rear-wing when you’re on the straight it becomes more effective at higher-speeds.

Don’t really understand why Hamilton wouldn’t leave the f-duct on even with a low downforce set-up, it must create an extra drag component.


Any more thoughts on Vettel’s performance James?

He said in his interview with the BBC that he just didn’t have the straight line speed compared to practice and couldn’t explain it which seemed odd.

Also I noticed Webber went out last in Q3 when I believe it was Vettel’s turn to do so this weekend, any reason for this or just how events played out?


Webber has had car problems all weekend, that may have something to do with it?

Impressive performance from Mark given his reduced track time through free practice.

Championship-wise, this race is set up fantastically.


James, off topic question:

Luca Di Montezemolo was today in the company of John Elkann (new chairman of FIAT and Luca successor, right?) in the pits..and in that same cozy entourage was also Flavio Briatore.

What is Flavio doing so close to Ferrari? Is it not true that recently he visited Maranello?

Can you tell us more what is behind all of this?


There are all sorts of theories. I don’t think it has anything to do with Ferrari, but more likely to do with the next Concorde Agreement


Or Mark Webber Vs Alonso next year. I’m pretty sure Webber will be thinking about his future as the whole Vettel thing is stupid and if he takes out the WDC i’m sure Ferrari would not mind seeing 1 and 2 on the there cars. Massa for Webber swap anyone. This might seem a bit far fetched but look at the world economy. Australians are pretty much the only western country that can afford to buy a Ferrari right now. Not to mention Australia’s huge Italian community, could be a match made in heaven. Also Flav has always want Alonso and Webber in the same car. Remember how angry he was when Webber signed for Williams.


Would be a really nice team, two fast, out-spoken guys with lots of guts, maybe the bravest and more honest (with the exception of Kubica) Really would like it but I can’t see it happening in the short term


Wouldn’t that be great. We would of course have to share their public holidays as well.


Sorry, but I can’t see Webber going for Ferrari. He won’t let anyone past, and Ferrari won’t have anyone in the team who won’t follow orders. Alonso wouldn’t stand for being “equal” either. Flav might pitch the idea, but I can’t see Mark agreeing.

Mark also tends to be big on loyalty. Flav stood by him in the early years, Mark stood by Flav when Flav fell out of favour. I would think that he would show the same consideration to Red Bull/Dietrich/Christian despite how heated it has gotten this year, unless it is made clear to him that he really isn’t wanted.


There must be something brewing here… I cannot imagine that Luca would want to be seen so publicly with the “disgraced” Flavio in his company… so this show for support to Flavio cannot be a coincidence.

Maybe Alonso something to do with this? Overhaul of Ferrari pitwall?


“race position engineering” philosophies mesh nicely between the two parties?


Haha, I’m so happy to see Ferrari at on top at home, Alonso on pole, we need a Ferrari 1, 2. Forza Ferrari!!! Il cavallino rampante vincerà.


Button will win. This will be the beginning of his run to the WDC title. Lewis has lost the momentum today.


Jenson will do his usual – go backwards.


So who went backwards this weekend mate? Where did Hamilton finish? 🙂


He didn’t finish. Mind you he didn’t go backwards either – he’d gained a place before the accident.

You said who was going to win? Who was it again? 😉

I’ll give you that this was Jenson’s best performance today. Enjoy it while you can.


I’m sure he’ll be strong in corners but had much less speed than Massa and Alonso in the speed trap (12 km/h less I think) so he can be surpassed in the first lap. On the other hand, he has advantage in the first chicane…we will see!


Its not just speed on the straight, Button will get out of the corners quicker, and can also break later come the next corner. So I dont think he will be that easy to overtake, he’ll also be giving out plenty of turbulent air through the corners upsetting the car following. It will certainly be interesting!


I remember Prost and mansell doing something similar at Mexico in 1990 and prost won on low downforce but not before mansell made in my favorite overtake on Berger for second place


The whole tyre wear thing is interesting. Jenson is using high downforce to stop sliding, but this increases the load and hence wear on the tyres. Prost often went for less downforce to look after the tyres. The difference these days seems to be that as the cars are so reliable the drivers are closer to the limit for more of the race, and therefore slide the car more often.


James can you see Force India thinking about replacing Liuzzi with Di Resta before the end of the season?


It was another difficult day for Liuzzi, but today was a technical fault, not his fault


I laughed out loud when Brundle said Liuzzi’s Italian accent could put him to sleep it’s so nice. Brundle must be a riot to hang out with.


According to Martin Whitmarsh, lewis only lost 2 tenths therefore he could have only managed to be 4th. Wrong set up IMO.


Don’t think it was necessarily the wrong setup.

I’m a Lewis fan, but I think he definitely screwed up his last couple of laps.

He was over 2/10ths slower than his Q2 time which was set fairly early on in the Q2 session.

You typically find that each driver will further improve their times from Q2 to Q3 by a couple of 10ths.

That would have put him into P3, which is where I think he should have placed it, or maybe even higher.

He seemed to both overcook it and also get slowed down by Webber. I think he should have backed off more on his last run when he realized he was getting slowed down by Webber.

Not his best qualifying but then everyone has a bad day, and it’s not over yet. He just has to concentrate on getting a good start tomorrow.


Alonso was spot on today and it’s his race to lose tomorrow and I just can’t see anyone beating him.

They key will be whether Hamilton can get close enough through the corner to use his straight line speed to jump people.

Has anyone seen the straight line speeds for all the cars? I wonder what the Ferrari pair tops speeds are vs. the rest?


This has all the trap speds, Button languishing at all of them. Could be easy pickings if others can get near him.


thanks fo that


I fail to see why so many of you think Button is a sitting duck. What’s the generally accepted rule of thumb when it comes to easily overtaking someone? You have to be 3 seconds a lap faster? Given the qualifying times, the top speeds in qualifying, the length of the straights (1km) which takes approximately 10 seconds to cover and that Button was just over 8km/hr slower than the top speed at his slowest point. That is approximately a 3 tenths deficit on the straights or what translates to a 25 to 26 meters deficit to the fastest car at the end of the straights. (I won’t go into the math other than to say it is calculated on meters per second). Even with a tow that advantage by a car behind won’t be instantaneous, they’ll have to be close enough behind after a corner where Button will have been superior (approximately the same 3 tenths or 25 meters ahead) and then get the pass nailed down which will likely be right before or even into the braking zone where of course the advantage goes back to Button.


I agree – it will be difficult to just ‘drive past’ Button. Hamilton himself was looking pretty dispondent & was saying being fast on the straights was one thing but getting close enough through the corners was another – he didn’t seem to think it was do-able. First few laps when they are all bunched together is Button’s biggest risk & Hamilton’s biggest oppportunity.

Ferrari seem to high straight line speed & the corner speed to so dont seem them getting beaten today…


I had a Lewis win on the cards today and I am still certain he has it in him to win from where he is, but he has a slippery car. I suspect if he pushes too hard like he likes too we might see him stuck in the gravel.

I’m a Button fan, though I think Lewis would have beaten him in qualifying with a similar setup, however racing isn’t just about racing, it’s about setup choices and thinking ahead and while Button may get picked off on the straights, I believe he’ll have the grip and late braking capacity to uphold his position, if he keeps it clean he may even stay out longer than Alonso and beat him in the pitstops, though I cannot see him beating him on track unless Alonso tries to back him into Massa.

Lewis might still do it, but I wouldn’t put money on him.


I’m not so sure. They chose their aero set up based on feeling so why would Lewis go faster than Jenson in a car he had a less good feeling about?


I am a little curious of the criticism that Petrov garnered from Q1, there is no doubting that he baulked the Virgin but I would have thought the 1st port of call for blame should be the team… after all they sent Petrov out of the pit lane straight into that corner.

I can only guess that Renault must have assumed that Timo was on an installation lap, otherwise they should have held Vlad back a few seconds and made sure he wasn’t going to get in the way.


It was 100% Petrov´s fault. No matter when you are sent out, you always have to look mirrors to check if the track is clean, before you join the racing line.

No way did Renault think that Glock was just in an installation lap. His flying lap was just started. How many drivers to you see doing installation laps in qualifying?

I bet Petrov is out of Renault at the end of the year and probably out of F1 for good. There has been some few good races but mostly he’s done many childish mistakes. Something that top team like Renault can’t afford.


Don’t get me wrong Petrov did block Timo 100%, and for that he deserves his grid penalty… My question is why did his team send him out then? Its the teams responsibility to send drivers out of the pits safely, its their responsibility to warn drivers of approaching cars, its their responsibility to try and give their drivers a clean run?

So why did Renault send him out of the pits in such a manner that he would block Timo into the 1st corner / end of the pit lane exit? The only reason that makes the slightest bit of sense from the teams perspective has them expecting Timo to come straight into the pits…If they thought Timo was about to start a flying lap then surely someone must have considered how that would affect Vlad on his out lap…..


Start will be interesting between Webber and Hamilton with Vettel behind them. So far this season, Vettel being behind anyone leads to drama :p

I hope it’s a great race, will be interesting to see if Ferrari can transfer their strength in qualifying into the race tomorrow.


I can see Jenson winning tomorrow, with the two Ferraris 2nd and 3rd. Which would set things up nicely for the title run in. Also, I think if Mark beats Seb again, RBR really should put their weight behind Webber if they don’t want the boys from Woking to nick both titles……


For me it’s a Ferrari 1-2 into the first corner and for fellow to hold the pack up and let fernando escape abit and take if from there. I don’t like Hamilton blaming the team when if he hadn’t of made mistakes he would have been higher up yet the team always defend him. He will take the credit tomorrow though if he wins


Where exactly did Hamilton blame the team?

I think it’s in your mind.


Today showed that Alonso is in a class of his own when he’s on it and the set up and track is right. No one, not even Hamilton, can push the car like him and maxamise the track as much. I think he will win tomorrow if it stays dry. If Massa gets the jump on Jens off the line they will be looking good because their race pace is right up there. Red Bulls badly off the pace this weekend, dunno whats up with that.


Everybody is on the class of his own when the set up, the car and the track is perfect. What is so special here?


As much as I’d like Button to win, I can’t see how his setup strategy is going to work out for him in the race. More downforce may let him look after his tyres and allow him to stop later, but as we’ve seen throughout the year where stopping early is more advantageous, how will that help when others who’ve already stopped will be on fresher rubber and be lapping quicker? Maybe he’ll in better shape come the end of the race but then he won’t be able to overtake with such weak top speed!

I reckon it’ll be a Ferrari one-two come the first corner. Hamilton will jump Webber then slipstream past Button as he gets held up by Massa say, in the corners.

What would be interesting is if Massa does a Germany and gets into the lead at the start while Alonso is covering Button! Then what will happen…


I think Button has got a very good chance at winning the race, he should get a better start than Alonso due to more downforce, tyres will last longer and I don’t think he will be that vulnerable on the straights due to him being able to exit the corners faster thus getting a head start down the straghts and if he is behind a car easily get in their slipstream, and he will also be able to brake later.

Nicholas Thornton

James, any idea as to how the renault (and kubica) didn’t do as well as Spa qualy? I mean they kept the f-duct which brought them a huge gain.

I was left confused (and dissapointed) with 9th.

Webber for the win


hi james please help me understand why lewis decide to run no f-duck and then winge about not having enought downforce,he have been runing without it from friday afternoon, therefore had plenty of times to decide have it on or not,personaly i think it was a big mistake from the begining not to run it ,what will be his chance tomorow from p5…..thanks


Button didn’t crash in spa ,he was taken out – there is a difference!

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