Alonso takes pole at Monza when it matters

Fernando Alonso powered to pole position for the Italian GP at Monza

Fernando Alonso powered to pole position for the Italian GP at Monza

Sep.11 (Grand Prix 247) Fernando Alonso brushed aside growing criticism of his inaugural year at Ferrari to score one of the most important pole positions of his entire career.

Qualifying parc ferme (L to R): Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, third; Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari, pole position; Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren, second. Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday 11 September 2010.

Qualifying parc ferme (L to R): Felipe Massa (third), Fernando Alonso (pole position) and Jenson Button (second)

The Ferrari driver delivered when and where it mattered, in front of the partisan tifosi, doing his victory chances the world of good. He was the only driver to dip below the 82 seconds barrier with a time of 1 minute 21.962 seconds on his first run of Q3. Alonso needs a big weekend in Italy to stay in the championship title hunt: part one of the mission accomplished.

Alonso was not sure of his accomplishment as his second run he aborted, “It was a nice surprise. When I stopped in parc ferme and they said on the radio: you are first, but Jenson is pink in the second sector. I thought we would be second. But today was different. It is a fantastic place, to have pole position in Italy for Ferrari.”

Pole sitter Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari celebrates in parc ferme. Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday 11 September 2010.

Pole winner Fernando Alonso celebrates in parc ferme

Sharing the front row with the Spaniard will be reigning F1 World Champion Jenson Button who played second fiddle to his team mate Lewis Hamilton since the engines fired up at Monza on Friday. But in qualifying Button dug deep to set the second fastest time.

Button was visibly content, “Big thanks to the team. We were not sure which approach to take in terms of downforce. Our side made the right decision to run the F-duct. Qualifying was good and I was near the top all the way through and in Q3 you’ve got to push that little bit more. I am happy to be second. It’s the first time on the front row this season so a step forward. It is a good start and hopefully it will be a competitive race.”

Third quickest was Felipe Massa who will line-up behind his Ferrari team mate on the clean side of the circuit which could pan out ideally for the scarlet cars at the start of the race. Also doing the business in front of the boss Luca di Montezemolo woul dhave done both drivers no harm!

Motorsports / Formula 1: World Championship 2010, GP of Italy, 01 Jenson Button (GBR, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes),  *** Local Caption *** +++ +++ copyright: HOCH ZWEI +++

Jenson Button will start from the front row

Massa said, “I tried a different strategy in Q3. When I put the soft tyres on in Q2, I could not do my best lap straight away – the best was my third lap. I said: let’s risk and try to do three laps. But in Q3 it did not work as well as I expected. I was able to do one timed lap on my other set but it was not enough. We have a good car for the race – we have improved it massively.”

Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber has had a problem filled weekend so far including an engine fire a few hours before qualifying, losing over 40 minutes of track time due to engine niggles during the two days. Nevertheless the title contender showed his true grit once again to post the fourth quickest time despite not having run his RB6 in low fuel spec until his final telling run.

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB6. Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday 10 September 2010.

Mark Webber overcame practice hassles and will start fourth

The Aussie, who is three points behind in the title chase and will start ahead of the championship leader, said: “I am pretty happy with qualifying and I would have taken that at the start. I was particularly despondent this morning because practice session three is an important session to learn how the car is going to react in qualifying. So we extended to a few laps on the option tyre in Q2 and we delivered, in a way, when it counted.”

Hamilton, who looked very much pole position candidate especially after the final practice a few hours earlier, simply failed to find the edge when it mattered and will head up the third row alongside fellow under performer Sebastian Vettel who looked strong until Q3 but ended sixth best.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday 10 September 2010.

Lewis Hamilton was pre-qualifying favourite but could only manage fifth

Afterwards Hamilton appeared to regret the decision not to run the F-duct which team mate Button ran with good effect, “It potentially had a quite a big impact on the end result in qualifying and I’m disappointed with fifth place. The car was sliding everywhere. It was the wrong choice, a bit of a mistake, but we’ll push on tomorrow.”

Nico Rosberg once again was the best of the Mercedes GP duo with an impressive run which will see him start seventh on the grid with fellow German Nico Hulkenberg beside him in eighth place. Hulkenberg the best placed rookie.

It was something of a disappointment that Robert Kubica could only manage ninth best time as the Renault driver was expected to be the cat among the pigeons again with the revamped and F-ducted R30.

Last year’s Italian GP winner Rubens Barrichello will start this year’s race from tenth on the grid.

Q1: Liuzzi strikes trouble but otherwise no surprises

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Lotus T127. Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday 10 September 2010.

Jarno Trulli was best of the new team drivers

Jarno Trulli ended fastest of the new teams, 18th quickest ahead of Lotus team mate Heikki Kovalainen.

Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India) was the big team Q1 victim with mechanical gremlins for the Italian on home soil. He explained,  “In the first lap of qualifying the engine lost power big time. It’s a loss of pressure or something like that but it’s the end of qualifying.” He will start from 20th.

Timo Glock will head up an all Virgin Racing row eleven with Lucas di Grassi, 21st and 22nd respectively.

Back of the grid will be the Hispania Racing duo with Bruno Senna 23rd and Sakon Yamamoto last.

Trulli was a tad under three seconds off the fastest time in the session while Yamamoto was almost five seconds adrift.

Top of the timing screens was all red with Massa fastest, followed  by Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Kubica, Vettel, Webber, Sutil, Hulkenberg and Rosberg.

Q2: Schumacher struggles continue as Force India fail

Michael Schumacher failed to make it beyond Q2

Michael Schumacher failed to make it beyond Q2

Much was expected of the Force India squad at Monza but they failed to deliver. Liuzzi out in Q1 and Adrian Sutil not managing to make it into the final shootout. The German will start from 11th on the grid.

Making it an all German sixth row will be five times Monza winner Michael Schumacher (Mercedes GP) who again failed to make it beyond Q2. He reflected on his way to an early shower, “We improved from yesterday to today, but it just was not enough. We will see about the race tomorrow.”

Kamui Kobayashi was best of the Sauber duo and will start 13th on the grid for the race while his veteran team mate Pedro de la Rosa was slowest of all in the session and will start from 17th spot.

Sharing the seventh row with Kobayashi will be Sebastian Buemi who was the fastest of the two Toro Rosso drivers. Jaime Alguersuari was 16th quickest, the two Toro Rosso drivers split by Vitaly Petrov who will start from 15th place on the grid. The Russian over a second and a half slower than team mate Kubica.

Alonso was fastest of all at the end of Q2 from Button, Hamilton, Massa, Vettel, Webber, Kubica, Hulkenberg, Rosberg and Barrichello.

Qualifying – 11 September 2010

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:22.646 1:22.297 1:21.962 23
2 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.085 1:22.354 1:22.084 21
3 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:22.421 1:22.610 1:22.293 25
4 6 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:23.431 1:22.706 1:22.433 26
5 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.830 1:22.394 1:22.623 17
6 5 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:23.235 1:22.701 1:22.675 23
7 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:23.529 1:23.055 1:23.027 23
8 10 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:23.516 1:22.989 1:23.037 23
9 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1:23.234 1:22.880 1:23.039 18
10 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:23.695 1:23.142 1:23.328 26
11 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:23.493 1:23.199 16
12 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:23.840 1:23.388 19
13 23 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.273 1:23.659 17
14 16 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:23.744 1:23.681 19
15 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:24.086 1:23.819 17
16 17 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:24.083 1:23.919 19
17 22 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.442 1:24.044 16
18 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:25.540 10
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:25.742 11
20 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:25.774 3
21 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.934 11
22 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.974 10
23 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:26.847 11
24 20 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:27.020 10