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.
“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