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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Hamilton heads McLaren front row lock out as Alonso slips
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Sep 2012   |  4:55 pm GMT  |  181 comments

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position today in Monza to head an all McLaren front row ahead of Jenson Button with Felipe Massa taking third. The Brazilian and his Ferrari team mate were working together as a team throughout practice and qualifying to give each other a slipstream worth around 3/10ths of a second. It worked for Massa, giving him his best qualifying position of the season. Unfortunately for Alonso his rear anti-roll bar broke and he could only manage only tenth.

Nevertheless this is the most competitive Ferrari has been this season and Alonso’s progress through the field will be interesting to watch.

The Ferrari’s potency here can be shown by its performance in Q1, where Alonso set a time on the 4th lap of a set of hard tyres which would have been good enough for 3rd place on the grid.

On this power circuit, it was interesting to note five Mercedes powered cars in the top seven positions.

Hamilton has been in the spotlight over his suggested move to Mercedes but showed no signs of it distracting him from his objectives on track; he edged out Button for a McLaren front-row lock out, securing his 23rd career pole, the fourth of 2012, and putting himself in the optimum position to gain ground on his championship rivals. It was McLaren’s third front row lock out of the season, showing that they are back to the form with which they started the season, before they lost their way on development trying to solve tyre temperature imbalances.

After dominating Free Practice the McLaren pairing seemed to be chasing the tail of Alonso as the Championship leader headed both Q1 and Q2, for the first time this season.

But it was Hamilton who let his driving do the talking as he needed just one lap to take pole position by 1/10th of a second in a very tight session. His benchmark could not be matched by those behind and with his Championship rivals all much further down the grid tomorrow could be his chance to make up for last weekend’s no score.

McLaren has had the car to beat in the last three Grands Prix, their work on exhaust blowing into the diffuser and other detailed aerodynamic work has certainly helped their competitiveness, while Red Bull has slipped back, as has Lotus, in qualifying pace.

Alonso had a golden opportunity to put some cars between himself and his nearest title challengers, the Red Bulls. Once again the Red Bulls lacked qualifying pace.

Part of this is the Renault engine, Vettel is the best placed Renault in 6th, Raikkonen behind him. They have struggled to match the straight line speed of the Ferrari and Mercedes’ engines and they both looked set to exit qualifying in Q2. This was the case for Webber, who could only manage 11th, but Vettel was able to push the car to its limits and will start the race from 5th place.

Monza is the third consecutive race in which Red Bull have failed to get more than one car in to the pole position shoot out. It has been no secret in recent years that the Renault Sport F1 engine is not as quick through the speed traps relative to the Ferrari, and in particular, Mercedes engines. And with the characteristics of Monza demanding a lot of top end speed the team will once again be looking at a savvy strategy on Sunday to grab as many points as possible.

Paul Di Resta had the most competitive Formula One qualifying session of his career as he claimed 4th position. Although a five-place gearbox penalty will push him down to 9th. But the Force India squad will have mixed emotions over what could have been as Nico Hulkenberg did not complete a lap in qualifying due to a mechanical issue and will begin the race in 24th position. The Silverstone based team have had a car particularly suited to low downforce circuits in recent years with strong showings in both Spa and Monza in 2009 and a strong fourth place finish in Spa last weekend.

Mercedes could not put their “double-DRS” to use to threaten for pole position but a 4th and 6th place start for Schumacher and Rosberg respectively is much better than recent races. And with a relatively low tyre wear factor at Monza they will need to maximise their points tomorrow.

The Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen and the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi fill the space between Alonso and Rosberg as they both got the better of their team mates. Jerome D’Ambrosio, replacing Romain Grosjean in the sister Lotus could only take 16th on the grid after surviving a scare in Q1, which saw him sneak through at the expense of Heikki Kovalainen.

[Additional reporting: Matt Meadows]

1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m24.010s
2. Jenson Button McLaren 1m24.133s + 0.123s
3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m24.247s + 0.237s
4. Paul di Resta Force India 1m24.304s + 0.294s*
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m24.540s + 0.530s
6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m24.802s + 0.792s
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.833s + 0.823s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m24.855s + 0.845s
9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m25.109s + 1.099s
10. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.678s + 1.668s

11. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m24.809s + 0.567s
12. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m24.820s + 0.578s**
13. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m24.901s + 0.659s
14. Bruno Senna Williams 1m25.042s + 0.800s
15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m25.312s + 1.070s
16. Jerome d’Ambrosio Lotus 1m25.408s + 1.166s
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m25.441s + 1.199s

18. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m26.382s + 2.207s
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m26.887s + 2.712s
20. Timo Glock Marussia 1m27.039s + 2.864s
21. Charles Pic Marussia 1m27.073s + 2.898s
22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m27.441s + 3.266s
23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m27.629s + 3.454s
24. Nico Hulkenberg Force India STOPPED

* 5 place gearbox penalty to be applied
** 10 place grid penalty to be applied

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Did you have to do a double-take when you were addressing Felipe? It's been sooooo long since he's been that near the sharp end on a saturday!

All the best to him, I say. For sure!


I thought it was a bit harsh, his first top 3 qualifying in who knows how long, and the first question he is asked is about Alonso!


I too can't believe that the first time he's in a Press Conference for an absoulte age, the first question YOU ask him is where is Fernando ? Jeez. Give the guy some credit / a break!

I think he has driven well for the last 5-6 races, and if he knew he actually had a sniff of a victory (ie. Not having to let FA past) he'd actually perform even better. He clearly lost motivation in the race once Alonso past him.


I was just going to say the same thing, at the time I thought it was a bit rude actually.

Still love your work James.


I agree with you, Skipper, and also, what's the story about many drivers actually putting all four wheels outside the track boundary line? I thought that was a "no-no" especially if time was gained by doing so! Or am I thinking about another racing series?



The left turn after Ascari; drivers are permitted to run wide there as far as I know (not as wide as did Maldonado though).


Yes, a bit. Great he's having some form. Not sure it's going to save his seat though


and the first thing you ask him was "what happened to Alonso".... Talk about unloved.


It won't. I heard Hulk is being fitted for that seat.


The F1 cynic in me half-expects Massa to go flying into the back of Hamilton at the start tomorrow, to secure another year with Ferrari.

But then I have to think that it must grind Massa's gears to hear that he hasn't been on the podium since Korea '10 (helped thru retirements), and not on full merit since Monza '10. And so I have to believe that he wants to have a clean race, and set right that particular stat. The Ferrari's usually have great launches though, so I'm concerned about that making a tangle ever more likely.

Is it that hard to see all 24 cars thru Turn 1 and 2 without incident?! Hopefully they can all manage it tomorrow.

Great qualifying also by Di Resta, Karthikeyan, and Vettel. Vettel should not have beaten Rosberg, but he did.

Who was that guy at qualifying parc ferme with the white balaclava and red suit?

James, do you have access to know how many engines each driver has used, and where? I think the FIA should make this info public for the fans.

If they can all get away cleanly, it should be a good race to watch, both at the front, and to watch the likes of Alonso, Di Resta, and Hulkenberg making their way through the field.


Yes, I published it in Spa. It's on FIA website under stewards reports from Saturday


I don't think the slipstreaming helped Massa did it? I thought he set his fastest lap on his own at the end of the session, so it was a good job from him.

But he got a bit of a put down from Alonso in his interviews afterwards, when Alson said pole would have been "easy" for him.


Yes....there was a dig, "I can do far better" but as much as 0.5 seconds? Really? when the rest of the field was separated by 0.3 seconds. One can sniff bull in that comment from Alonso!


Don't think Alonso directed his words at Massa, probably more of his own performance.

Val from montreal

As Jerry Seinfeld famously used to say : ah thats a shame !! Alonso has always been the most cautious and prudent driver on the grid since his flavio-renault days .... He seems content keeping the slightest little points advantage he has ... Just look at his recent remarks ... He basically relies on his opponents musfortunes to keep his lead ... Remember Brazil 2006 ? remember the last race of 2010 when HE and Ferrari blew it ? Instead of driving his balls off he races with the " fear " of losing the little lead he has ..... His 40+ points lead he had a month ago is slowly evaporating into thin air , just like his title hopes for 2012 !! I have never seen Schumacher driving conservative for the fear of being overtaken .... Go Michael !!


Posts like that deserve some sort of punishment....seeing that your a Seinfeld fan, im sure you can appreciate how reading your nonsense post must have felt to some fellow posters. Im guessing it similar to how the Soup Nazi felt listening to Elaine blabber on about how he looked like Pacino. So, Val from Montreal its "No Posting for you....come back 1 year"

Val from montreal

Best reply ever !! Really funny !!


Alonso drives intelligently. Much like Prost. This is a GOOD thing.



enjoyed reading all those replies.

Cheers! 🙂


There's no point in driving faster than you have to when leading. To finish first, first you must finish. Alonso is not only smart enough to know that, he's also 'calm enough' to do just that. Going flat out when leading is a good way to give up the lead---either by breaking the car or crashing it.


Val, we all get it.

You can't stand Alonso.



To be fair to Alonso he didn't get the chance to maintain his 40 point lead last weekend compliments of Grosjean trying to give him a hair cut!


Huh.. are you serious ? What possibly could Alonso do to avoid this crash in Spa and a broken anti-roll bar at Monza ?????

I'm pretty sure he 'drove his balls off' so far in 2012 at every opportunity he had.


WhaT I am finding difficult to understand is that Alonso is driving the same Ferrari that got destroyed last weekend.

Yes Ferrari rebuilt the car, but no one has pointed out what a bad job they did in doing so. The odds are that the car will break down tomorrow and Alonso's lead will shrink again.

I love Ferrari, Ferrari is F1. But I have seen them make so many naive mistakes over the years it's painful.


Well...the car didn't break down on him... although it seemed Vettel tried to find out how good the SPA damage repair was on Alonso's car.

I guess every team makes errors during the season, we have witnessed McLaren and Mercedes doing more stupid things...


I've seen Schumacher drive into the side of a championship rival in the process of overtaking him, twice!

Brazil 2006? Alonso had already won it in Japan the race before, when Schumi's engine blew up, handing him the win. That wasn't before he had a real go at the team, claiming they were only interested in the WCC, and not his WDC.


Just a point, MSC lost his engine in Suzuka, Alonso won and went to Brazil 10 points ahead.

If MSC won in Brazil and Alonso didn't finish they would have been equal on points and MSC would have won because of 8 wins against 7.

What many MSC fans also choose to forget, is the fact that Todt, Brawn and Schumi made the FIA change the rules governing the mass damper and outlawed it, after Renault had used it for the previous 18 months..


What nonsense! Alonso's been the best driver this year so far. He's almost driven to perfection this year and made zero driver mistakes. His misfortunes in the last two races have been clearly out of his control so your comments have no validity. He certainly comes across as one of, if not the most intelligent driver in field, and handles a Championship and his team exceptionally well. You never see him have a huff or complain about his team in public, unlike drivers like Hamilton at times.

You might not be an Alonso fan, and he's not who I support, but why can't people be respectful to others and appreciate their talents?!


good point! it just seems that whenever any of the top drivers make mistakes or suffer from events outside their control, the fan bandwagon will jump and start making silly assertions. Alo, Schu, Ham and Vet all suffer this, As Web and But to slower degree.


@Val from Montreal

I'd like a bit of whatever it is that you are on. Last i checked, being prudent was a good thing.

Yes i remember Brazil 2006, what about it? He won his second world title there, no?

Last race of 2010 has been beaten to death but i guess some people can't let go, understand ably, your supposedly invincible superman hero had his a$$ handed to him by Fernando in 2006 in a Renault with probably half the budget of Ferrari at that time. Can't get over it, can you?

Not such a superman is he now, where are those famous development skills he was so renowned for at Ferrari. Tell you what, no Rory Byrne, the unsung hero of Ferrari success and the man who made those titles possible.


An odd comment. Have you been watching F1 this season?


His caution has brought him great success if you look at his career, your post is unaccurate and has hints of bitterness val??


Wow! According to you, Alonso drove cautiously when he won the German Grand Prix? I'm sorry, I thought both Vittel and Jensen Button were trying very hard to beat him.

If the other teams can't build a car that can be competitive in adverse weather conditions because they can get the tires up to temperature or have a driver who is great in the rain, don't blame Alonso for winning in Malaysia.

I will give you Valencia even though if the other trams can't build a reliable car, it isn't Ferrari's fault. I think that Vittel should pay Grosjean's $50,000 fine as a "Thank You" gift. If Alonso wasn't taken out of the race by Grosjean, he would have extended his lead because a podium was definitely possible. Massa finished 5th.

So please, don't let the facts get in the way of your arguments.


Really bad luck for Alonso, I am very sorry for him.

I hope he can still win the Championship this and maybe finish on a podium tomorrow, couple of places ahead of Vettel.

I was in Monza to watch a race and there are not many overtaking opportunities over there. Mostly the first chicane after the straight.


Bad luck for Alonso....but he has also had more luck this season compared to the other WDC contenders!


you mean Spa?


And Spa was also bad luck for Lewis Hamilton!


Can you please explain what you mean by "Alonso has had more good luck than the other WDC drivers". To me, what you call luck, I call intelligence.

When Alonso's tires went off in Canada and Silverstone, he didn't do anything stupid. He didn't fight with the other drivers. He took the points that were there and moved on to the next race.

Lewis on the other hand, never thinks. In Velancia, he should have just given Maldonado the position. His tires were done. He was going to be passed on the next lap anyway. Saying "I'm a race driver" just sounds stupid.

Jenson Button needs a perfectly balanced race car or he's no good. Unlike Alonso and Hamilton, he doesn't know how to get the best out of a bad racerace.

Vittel can't win if he's not on pole and has some kind of cheating device from Adrian Newey. His win in Bahrain came about because his car had heat coming through the front axle, illegal engine mapping( traction control) and holes in the rear floor.


Alonso had one of the longest runs in F1 without a DNF and already there are some posts trying to spin a story of Alonso being the unluckiest driver....when others have been far more unlucky this season.....

I get it, Alonso is a hero!


In my opinion (and Alonso's words) Fernando has the best car out there. I think a podium is a possibility.

I've been to Monza. It's a majestic place.


Massa to make a demon start and get into first corner first amd hole the pack up for Fernando. Still reckon Fernando will be on the podium of he gets around the first corner with all 4 wheels pointing in the same direction as I think they have the fastest car this weekend.

Also the lotus has great straight line speed so I don't think there is too much wrong with the Renault engine. Redbull just seems very draggy to me.

Could be a cracker tomorrow. Please no first corner incidents though.


Yes, hope he doesn't take himself & old friend LH out in the first turn 🙂


Currently the public's enemy #1 is Maldo last time I checked... 😀


I wouldn't like that either. However, I wouldn't mind it if Vettel had another alternator 'go South'. ;^)


Massa is 1000/1 at the bookies to win wdc this year....


I'd rather put my money on a rusty old bird cage


I cannot believe Fernandos luck!!! First Spa and now anti-roll bar at the end of the session when it was clear from previous ones that he was the fastest man on the track. As his fan I am greatly disappointed and I think this one could kill his championship chances.


I'm happy it didn't happen in Q1or Q2.Wish he had a better race.


I'm a huge Fernando Alonso fan. He's my favorite driver. Just look at it this way. Thank God it hapened in Q3 instead of in race. At least now they can fix it and take a very detailed look at all of the other suspension parts.

Now he has a chance of at least a podium.


His luck is no worse than his rivals, it's just that he's experiencing it now, whereas they experienced it earlier in the season.


Why? Only Vettel winning and an Alonso no-score can stop him from going to Singapore as the DWC leader, and both sides of that equation are unlikely.

But I agree with you that the Ferrari's looked the fastest today (just), in qualifying trim at least. When Massa is that far up there, you know the car is working. The Ferrari's are fast in sectors 2 and 3, where both DRS zones are, so Fernando will have many chances to overtake.


Don't worry, I understand Felipe is excellent at bowling...


Let's be honest he was very lucky in the first half of the season, in the end it all balances out.


Vettel been ultra lucky for 2010 and 2011. Haven't seen that balanced out yet. 🙁 🙁


Schumacher's luck has certainly balanced out now. I hope he completes at least one more season.



That man has driven brilliantly, in a car that is not the class of the field.


Hello James, with regards to Alonso's anticipated blast through the pack, what were the fastest cars through the speed traps? If Alonso has a high straight line speed he should find it easy to overtake; but if not, despite having a fast car in terms of outright pace, he will struggle.


McLaren right up there


I always used to be under the impression that HRT are the worst cars out there. But, looking at the speed trap classification, man they are good. Its just that others are better. It does make sense for them to be in F1


Thanks for this. If this is anything to go by, Alonso should not have any issue in passing the cars in front of him (barring the Mclarens and Raikkonen) as the others are not that much faster. Vettel on the other hand; (if he can maximise the shorter gearing) looks like he's in trouble!


Interesting to see the Lotuses right up there 7kmph faster than the Red Bulls. We'll see tomorrow who has set that up right.

Kimi may not be stuggling tomorrow like he was on the Kemmel Straight last weekend

Should be a great race tomorrow with Alonso coming through and a lot of top drivers in very evenly matched cars.



What are your final thoughts on the race pace of the top five qualifiers?




Closely matched. McLaren and Ferrari ahead, Red Bull coming through, Lotus and Merc a shade behind


i thought lotus was the most consistent throughout the long run???


I think JB will take it this year. PDR did very well but will lag as the race progresses. Perhaps to McLaren next year. FA will pile up in some melee and LH will have issues. MS will find a lack of pace. Massa will do okay or will PDR have him in Retifilio? Pity I won't see it thanks to BBC gifting it to Sky.


If you have an Internet connection, there are ways to watch it live, without sky.. Stupid for sky, cause I would pay £10 a month for the f1 channel, but I'm not paying 40 for the entire sports package, that I watch nothing of.. Meh..


You don't need the sports package. You get thr F1 channel of you pay for the HD channels. I don't pay anything. Refuse to. But my lodger on thr other hand does pay for sky so I'll be watching it


Can't, I'm on virgin, therefore MUST purchase ALL the sports to get F1


Take what?


Don't worry, I highly doubt you'll be missing the race you've predicted!


When you said PDR I was thinking "what does Pedro DelaRosa" have to do with it. Lol



I can't figure out what he means by PDR yet here tho.


A superb performance from from Lewis, Jenson and Filipe and Paul.

As for Fernando, the Ferrari plan clearly didn't work. As to the anti-roll bar failure on his car, aren't the cars now in parc-ferme conditions which means unless they get an exemption from the FIA Technical delegate to work on the car, Fernando will have to start from the the pit-lane on Sunday?


You are allowed to repair damaged parts in parc ferme, but touch nothing else.


No, of the part broke they can fix it



is the breaking of this anti-roll bar related to last week accident? I think FA had to change the engine after FP1 also, when I had read in the spanish journals that they were happy to have a non-used engine for Monza after not doing Spa.

Or did Ferrari change the chasis?


They changed the chassis, he's now on no.296!


I was in the front row of the stands at the first chicane and it was an incredible place to watch. Absolutely excited for the race tomorrow, Go Michael!


Michael Schumacher 7 - Nico Rosberg 6 in qualifying.

Poor Nico, everyone (including Martin Brundle) will be saying that he should retire.

Oh wait, that only happens when your name is Schumacher.


In the 90's I'll hold my hands up and say 'yes I hated Schumacher' for being, well, for being himself, because he and Ferrari did stifle competition, by hook or by FIA. This season, I find myself wishing he had better luck. Merc have a midfield race car but a top tier qually car.. But they do have a driver that can still admit mistakes, and still be gracious about it (you reading this Maldy?), and he is still faster than current top tier drivers, sitting in more reliable cars.

As much as I didn't like him, there's still a lot of learning that the new drivers *should* take to heart..


So true. Everyone was so quick to tell him to retire last season and 2010.


And a lot of them seem to be quite about this little fact... Schumacher outqualifying his younger team mate.


Schumi spoiled their Schumi bashing festival, how ironic.


I hope Fernando -the Great- can make the pondium tomorrow. Its a shame he was not able to compete for pole today because of the problem that he had.


it is very strange that the sofar bullet proof Ferrari had so many issues this weekend. Can it be related to the hammering it took last Sunday at Spa? It was hit by both Lotus and McLaren.


He's using a new chassis this weekend, presumably last weekends is a complete right-off.


No, it's just bad luck


Alan said alonso 's mechanical failure slow kimi down in Ascari, or else he could be 5th ~~~ well, thats qualifying LOL


I did wonder the same as azac21, As this is the 4th mechanical issue this weekend surely it can’t all be bad luck..James is Alonso using the same chassis as Spa?


What do you make of Hamilton's subdued body language today after claiming pole.


As a disclaimer, I have never guessed correctly where a driver will be the following season, but my guess is Hamilton has already signed with Mercedes, and KR is in negotiations with Mclaren to replace him.


I'm not surprised at his mood and body language. With all the crap going on over. You can tell something is wrong. It's time for Lewis to take his show somewhere else. Did someone say Mercedes?


He always does that. But interestingly in the Unilateral room he was really happy, smiley. He hasn't been like that so much this year when he's had pole.

This one means a lot to him I think


He's always said that Monza is one of the "classics" that he wants to have won at (along with Monaco, Silverstone, and Spa). Maybe Suzuka is up there for him too ... he won his Japanese GP at Fuji.


That's because he's moving to Ferrari and he wants to show the tifosi what he's all about.


Nice to hear, cheers for sharing the bit we don't see James!


Funny, I also observed the same. And as a Mclaren fan I feared, Hamilton might utter those words in the press conference "This will definitely be my last pole with Mclaren at Monza"!!



I appreciate the Renault engine may be down on power, but is it really that significant?

Through the speed traps last year Lotus were 2nd and 3rd clocked at best part of 350kmh. I saw the speed of the Lotus' at some points topping 340kmh. Is the perception of them being down on power based purely on Red Bull having a draggy car?

As far as I can tell Renault allows great top speed, its easy to drive and is the most fuel efficient.


Yeah but top speed isn't the only thing - its how/ when the power is delivered tYo get you there quicker The Mercedes has 20kw (30hp) advantage from its KERS alone and I'm not sure how much additional torque ( probably similar amount in NM). Further it's clearly more reliable than the Renault as you don't see anywhere near as many failures.


I belive there was an article on this very site back in 2009 sometime that listed the relative powers of each F1 engine, with the Renault being only stronger than the Toyota (which is no longer used), and Mercedes the strongest.

Note that Cosworth were not in F1 at the time, so no figure for them, I don't know how they compare.


Renault engine not providing enough power does not automatically mean slower top speeds. It does mean, though, that in order to achieve competitive top speeds, they need to sacrifice some downforce, leading to slower cornering speeds.


you are looking at top speed, why dont you look at the speed trap of each sectors? all renault powered car were miles behind, with rbr included~~ meaning the car is losing out on acceleration


Kimi explained today that Lotus can reach high speeds, but their rivals can reach that speed much faster than them


Call me crazy, but I think that Fernando Alonso will win the 2012 Italian Grand Prix today. With Paul Di Resta's 5 place grid penalty, Alonso will start in 9th place which is on the clean side of the track.

With a good start, Alonso could make-up 3 or 4 positions on the 1st lap. If what Alonso said about doing a 1.23.5 in Q3 if he didn't have the anti-roll bar problem, he will be a second faster than the next two positions. With 2 DRS-zones, he will pass them by lap 7.

If Massa doesn't pass one or both McLarens at t start, he will let Alonso easily get by him.That will give Alonso a clear track to chase down the McLarens with about 40 laps to go. The race is 53 laps.

Pirelli is predicting a one-stop race. Ferrari is easier on its tires than McLaren so Alonso will be able to gain a lot of ground when the McLarens pit. It takes two or three laps to get the hard tires up to temperature. This is also allow Alonso to gain time on Lewis and Henson.

If the anti-roll bar didn't break, Alonso would have been about .3 to .5 second faster than Hamilton. With this in mind plus the fact that Ferrari is easier on its tires, Alonso will catch and pass both McLarens for the win.


Alonso starts 10th, di Resta 9th.


Di Resta finished qualifying in 4th, will be demoted to 9th. Alonso will start 10th, on the dirty side. Still, agree with you that the Ferrari's have the best starts out of the whole grid. I doubt your "he'd be 3-5 tenths up" conclusion (the field is too tight at Monza for such a gap at the top), but no use arguing about it, we'll never know.

If Alonso wins tomorrow (assuming P1-P9 don't get taken out in a big crash or something), it will be some win!


no..Alonso will start 10th. Paul will start 9th. He qualified 4th and so with his 5 place grid drop that makes 9th place. everyone after paul moves up a place apart from Alonso!


Paul Di Resta will start in front of Alonso. He will drop from 4th to 9th, and Alonso being 10th, he does not advance on the grid.


Yes, I realized after my posting was already up that I made a mistake. Anyway, according to Michael Schumacher, the even side of the track is the best side to start on.

All me a dreamer, but how many people would have thought that Alonso would have won the European Grand Prix?


Your post was a breath of fresh air, quite unrealistic to say the least and having some factual error (e g Di Resta starts 9th) - still refreshing given the recent run of bad luck. Thanks 🙂


Yes, I realized after my posting was already up that I made a mistake. Anyway, according to Michael Schumacher, the even side of the track is the best side.

All me a dreamer, but how many people would have predicted that Alonso would have won the European Grand Prix?


I thought Massa's quickest lap was when he didn't have the slipstream help?


That is what he said afterwards. Looked like it on TV, but he said no real gain


There was no slipstreaming on Massa's fast lap right at the end. There is no way in hell Alonso would have been helping Massa at that stage, seeing as he needed a good lap himself. In fact, its Alonso who missed out on the chance to slipstream on that last lap.


No reason to expect anything other than a faultless Hamilton win from pole as in Hungary. Likely outcome: HAM, BUT, VET.

Baffled.. From where does the Ferrari get the extra speed? it was matching the McLaren till the roll-bar broke.


It always had straight line speed.. It was its handling balance that was wrong. They got a new from wing ( as most teams) for Monza which is prob working well too.


James Are you doing the commentary tomorrow on 5 live? If so I'll try borrowing a radio to use with sky picture only


Yes whole race live on 909 and 695 BBC Radio 5 Live. Really looking forward to it


Must admit your Five Live commentary has been a God send here in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi sports does us proud with a nice HD signal, but unless we want to pay a whacking premium we have to endure Arabic-only commentary. A UK VPN however and we enjoy your great commentary and insight James, alongside the local picture. Just don't tell anyone about the VPN. Cheers


Hi James,

I am from Sg. Are your live comentary available live via internet, ie BBC website as well? I hope I can watch and listen to urs as well! Thanks.


Hi James

How are Lewis and jenson at the moment? Could it get nasty on the way down and into t1?


If they have contact into turn 1, they should both be sacked!!


Ok, no real obvious signs of strain when they were together after Quali


As an Ferrari/Alonso fan, i have to admit Lady Luck has been kind to him, let's just hope she considers the score even now.


Congrats to Lewis. Although I want Hamilton to win I still like to see Alonso up there. There is something special when those fight it out.


I did wonder the same as azac21, As this is the 4th mechanical issue this weekend surely it can't all be bad luck..James is Alonso using the same chassis as Spa?


James I watched the qualifying on Speed and they noted, as did I, how subdued all 3 drivers seemed afterwards. You were there; why was it?

I know Jenson has mentioned not enjoying Monza so much because the crowds are so pro-Ferrari that they boo any opposition such as McLaren, which must be disappointing, could that be it? Yet even Massa seemed less than elated!...


Maybe the new set up where they sit on stools, maybe it was my questions!


Hmm, did not know you were the one asking the questions after qualy. Sorry for my prev post! >.< I know you are very professional from articles here and your superb BBC commentary.


I don't like the stools at all; and I like the podium interviews even less.

The body language and reaction to your questions was fascinating.

I thought your first question to Felipe was interesting. I think it says a lot about the perception of him within the paddock that the first question you put to him after a great qualifying session was about Alonso. They said as much on OneHD in Australia. Such is the life of a Ferrari No.2!

Lewis seemed defensive about your observation about distractions this weekend. He must have been weathering a lot of those.

JB always makes sure to agree with Lewis whenever he compliments the team, and this time he made certain to give greater compliments. He is very clever at that kind of positioning.

Very interesting press conference.


The stools did look awkward, all three of them looked like they might fall off at any minute!


One would think Massa would be elated to start in the top three after such a long time and that too in Monza. Has LdM already made a decision? He did mention something along the lines of 'looking to the future' earlier this week.


Well it wasn't just in the interview; even when they got out the cars and went to weighing, the usual exuberance seemed missing from all of them. I wondered if someone had died........... 😉


James, what will Ferrari do with Massa after he wins tomorrow, assuming they've already signed another driver for next year?


Did Massa not set his fastest lap when he didn't slipstream with Alonso??

He gave that impression in the interview afterward which I presume to be correct.


Hi James,

Should we read anything from the speed trap readings? Looks like Mclaren and lotus are at the top of the sheet.

Are Mclaren going to run away at the front with Lotus doing of lots overtaking?



Well, Alonso has managed to find something positive in this situation:

Year 2006, we arrived at Monza leaders, broken car in q3, penalties, start 10th, stop in the 1st chicane, engine problem, a marshal take me into the paddock on the bike. We won championship ... 😉

Year 2012, we arrived at Monza leaders, q3 car broken , start 10th , engine problem on Friday at the 1st chicane, same marshal brings me to the paddock in the bike. Hopefully it will be a good year at the end .. ;)))!


2006's win for him also required Schumacher's engine blowing up at the penultimate race. Schumi had closed down Alonso's lead to zero, was leading in Japan, would've gone into Brazil ahead by 2 pts, but then his engine blew up, Alonso inherited the win, and a 10 pt lead, meaning Schumi needed to win and Alonso DNF in the last race.

That was a quick and crazy turnaround.

I doubt Alonso would want to pin his DWC hopes on such an occurrence happening again!


FIA had forced Renault to remove the mass dampers from German Grand Prix onwards, even though stewards at the German Grand Prix (and FIA itself back in 2005) had agreed that the system was legal. The R26, was initially designed with the system in mind and what made bad worse was that the banning came during the summer testing ban, making it impossible for Renault to test alternative parts. At the Hockenheimring, after being very competitive in prev races, Renault drivers struggled home fifth and sixth while Ferrari romped to a one-two.

At the time reports hinted that many in the paddock suggested the governing body were trying to engineer a final championship victory for the then retiring Michael Schumacher. Renault went from regulary fighting for wins to struggling for podiums.

"quick and crazy turnaround" - are we talking about FIA inconsistent rulings potentially affecting championship outcome?


Well done Quattro. Keep it up. Why do some Schumi fans keep forgeting Alonso's DNF'S and penalties in 2006? Im making it my mission to print the whole truth whenever a schumacher fan sumarises the 2006 season as 'alonso won because Michaels engine blew in suzuka". I will mention the mass damper banning, DNF in hungary while leading, the laughable Monza qualifying penalty and his blown engine in that race, while in 3rd. Remember Schumi fans, Its Alonso who deservedly took the title in 2006. No shame there. Its not like Jenson or Damon Hill won and denied him an 8th crown!!!


Schumachers comeback also required the FIA to ban the Renault mass damper, that was legal for 18 months...Alonso was leading by 28 points at that stage....about 65 points in todays currency. Also do you remember the penalty Alonso recieved at monza? Impeding Massa while never being closer than 103 meters from him. How bout Alonso retiring from the lead in Hungary. How many points does that add up too. But yes you only remember suzuka and lucky Fernando.

Say the whole story or dont bother


Well lots of crazy stuff happened since that.

2007, with a huge points defiect, Raikkonen took the driver's crown by 1pt.

2008, no one expected a Toyota helped Hamilton steal Massa's WDC.

2009 Button managed to pull off the WDC even the 2nd half of the year he wasn't performing.

2010 Vettel took an unlikely win at Ahu Dhabi for his first WDC.


Hi James, after Ferrari realised they had the roll bar failure, did Alonso save a set of options for the race by going out on used options for the last run? In case he did, do you think he might 2 stop?


Why would he have run used options on the last run? That was his best lap, so he'd have to use those tires tomorrow. Had to be new options, and I'm sure that was the case.

The options are not faster than the primes enough to make a two-stopper work.


Alonso said he felt something was wrong with the car after the first run in Q3 and the team could see it on the data.....So I am thinking if they knew they wouldn't improve on the times why waste a set of options? Alonso also said they were running just to start in front of those who didn't run in Q3 but that didn't happen.

I know the options are only marginally faster than the primes, but the strategy calculator says 2 stopper is faster with a new set of options


A shame for Alonso. Hes done SO well to build that 40pt lead and its starting to erode. Damage limitation will be the game for him tomorrow. The Ferrari's race pace should help.

As for Massa, he is one of those guys... give him a good car and he will pull out the results. He's been very quick off the line this year, so I wont be surprised if he leads into turn 1! His long run pace on Friday looked handy too.

Lewis' starts started off bad but he/team seems to have got over the issue and he pulls away well. However, Button has been inconsistent off the line... cant always get a good bite. So I expect him to lose a position/s.

Lets wait 'n see 🙂


James, did Alonso's ARB break before his initial run in Q3 or during/after?


See James, I never understand this talk of Red Bull's being slow being due to their Renault Engine.

The 2 lotuses were the 2 fastest cars through the speed trap in qualifying with Renault engines?

It's to do with how they set their gear ratios and also because they have lots of downforce, but also Lotus do too. So I really think it is mainly how they set their gear ratios. Look at Spa, they were ultra quick in the race, but were on the limiter for half the straight. As Button said on the BBC highlights show, this is slower in qualifying but quicker in the race, so long as you are in free air.


I say it's more to do with RBR's aero than engine. They've always known to be a cornery type of car with lots of downforce. On a track like Monza, that don't really help and turn into drag. So I don't buy into that Renault engines are slower than Mercs BS.


How many/much issues/bad luck can you have for one single event? Fernando going for a record at Monza? Engine, gearbox, brakes and rollbar failures and the race has not started yet... The rollbar failure happens at the most crucial moment in Q3. And why on earth are Ferrari letting Massa have the first go with the slipstream strategy in Q3? They already knew about the failure at ALOs car? And why are clowns allowed in the pitlane? I had only seen them at the circus, until I saw Motezemolo in the Ferrari garage today making one of his "tricks" at the end of Q3!

Let us hope we at least get a clean race and a very possible 5/6th place finish with VET and RAI behind.


So funny how all the Alonso fans are whining how much bad luck he's had in the last week, without considering how much good luck he's had over the past 2-3 months!


I have been puzzeld for so long now over this very impressive showing... outscoring everyone but (the exhaust blown) Vettel for last three seasons, while using a Ferrari-camel. Oh, yeah not to forget beating SCH and RAI ages ago and becoming youngest dbl WC in the process... Thanks for disclosing the secret behind the success - Strange I never thought of "Luck".

When do you think HAMs' 3 year long UNluck will end? When he starts getting uncompetitive packages like ALO, maybe?


it was because a little girl he wanted to cuddle pushed him away, a bit like Kimi used to do when Luca tried to get close to him...


Are the Renault cars still more economical than the Ferrari's and Mercs as years previous, or has this gulf been filled now? Less has been made of their ability to carry less fuel at the start this year than before. in fact, I dont think I can remember Sky or the BBC mentioning it at all?


Anyone else think the atmosphere between Lewis and Jenson was a lot less jovial and muted than before. Obviously they are not the best of friends away from the track but there was always a fairly relaxed rapport between them. Didn't sense that today though. Has the events of the last week, the twitter incidents and then Lewis manoeuvring himself for next season affected the pair's relationship?


Has anyone noticed a pale strip of tarmac at the pitlane exit? what's that for?

I wonder if it was a patch up job by that irish plasterer/decorator who works for Eddie Jordan, the one that broke the news about Schumacher going to Merc


History has shown that there are always ups and downs in any championship year, hopefully Alonso and Ferrari have had the bad luck now and got it out of the way. Forza Ferrari!!!


Hi James,

I noticed several cars during qualifying (notably Schumacher and Maldonado) leaving the track, with all four wheels over the line, at Ascari.

Are the stewards not policing this ?


They have been doing that for years. They used to do thisthrough the 2 Lesmo's too.


Brundle and co mentioned this as well and it seems to have become acceptable. Another example of inconsistent rule application


That's nothing new. Happened over the years.

As long as you don't overtake cars with all 4 wheels off the track, nor are you straightlining the track then it's fine.


How did team slipstreaming "give" Massa his result? Were we watching the same? He did not get a tow from Alonso on his fastest Q3 lap.


Had Alonso not had problems it would have been very close indeed, and I think it very conjectural as to who would have taken pole. Anyway we have to deal with reality, but there's no doubt the Alonso will make up ground in the quick starting Ferrari, and of course Vettel is close. I hope the McLaren boys can hold on to the lead and second place for a 1-2.


Button will win this one


Too bad Grosjean isn't racing tomorrow. Alonso could use some "Grosjean luck" at the start of the race. Maybe take out the Schumacher, Vittel, Di Resta, and Kimi at the first corner.

Maldonado is racing, right?


James, would it not be more fair to a driver who qualifies well ( or any driver) who has a gear box penalty for a change, rather than a 5 place grid penalty for the driver they have a 25 point loss of constructors championship points?


I think any penalty for a driver is too servere. I think there should be no penalties until your allocation for the season has been used. Then the team should be hit with a financial penalty.


The slipstreaming didn't really help too much I guess but was interesting watching the Ferrari pair applying this technique.

Just hoping there will be no major incidents in the first turn and none of the major contenders being taken out (no Grosjeaning and Maldonadoing should be safe). Will be fascinating to watch how Alonso move as close to the front.

Can Felipe hold his position?. Considering two DRS zone, overtaking should not be a hinderance. Looks like a one stop strategy in the race for most.

Good weather and a closed fought race at the front is what we need. I'd like the championship to be a one point win! at the end of the day.


I am expecting Massa to do something completly silly at the start. The pressures on so put your bets on a collision with Hamilton?


If anyone I think Alonso would want Hamilton to win this. Have someone put a gap between him and Vettel would be ideal.


Right so. In Alonso's words, 'It was a perfect Sunday!


That was a very predictable Quali for me. After Spa where Mclaren showed its pace. You cannot hide from the fact that Mercedes engine is a beast and on a straight horsepower circuit it's advantage is highlighted. Although the Ferrari is right there. What will be interesting is the tyre deg- this will decide the race and very marginal for teams to go one or 2 stop!

I really took to Felipe when he said its a shame Fernando had the problem as he would be here for sure ! . Conversely Fernando saying he would have taken pole easily is a bit poor in my opinion given he was matched by Hamilton previously and the fact that this was Felipes best all year! (no Massa fan)

I dont know why Fernando fans are panicking he is in a gun seat- team with 33? Points advantage and a team mate supporting him 100%. Raikkonen on the other hand has had a Rookie as a team mate in a team that went nowhere last year with a engine that has not been reliable and look at what he's achieved. I will argue with anyone :- if there is a Quicker more Intelligent, Consistent driver in the field. I just hope he can make up a few places in the race but this Hamiltons race.


Helpful info. Fortunate me I discovered your website accidentally, and I'm surprised why this coincidence did not took place earlier! I bookmarked it.

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