Hamilton on pole, Alonso and Red Bull disappoint
Ferrari were prominent during the Q1 and Q2 sessions with a surprising Felipe Massa being able to follow the pace of team mate Alonso and the other F1 aces. However when the checkered flag was out it was Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Merceded that grabbed poleposition.
The Briton commented: “It’s been a tough weekend but we’ve managed to work on the setup and the package the guys bought from the factory – and they’ve done a fantastic job. So, congratulations to the team and great for the lads. Yeah, managed to get a half-decent lap at the end of Q3, or at the beginning of Q3, and it’s great obviously for the team to have me and Jenson at the front. ”
Alonso: ‘I could have got pole’
Mechanical failure disrupted Fernando Alonso’s qualifying session, leaving the Championship leader tenth on the grid.
Alonso’s Ferrari has been quickest in both Q1 and Q2 and look set to take on the strong McLarens in the final qualifying session, before a broken rear roll bar put the two-times Monza winner out of contention. Alonso attempted a qualifying run in the damaged car but was half a second slower than the Sauber of ninth-placed man Kamui Kobayashi. It was not the afternoon expected from the double World Champion, who has been consistently near the top of the timesheets all through the practice sessions.
“I think I could have got pole today, but instead I find myself tenth. A real shame, because the car was very strong, but these things happen,” said a rueful Alonso. “The problem will be fixed for tomorrow, but of course this result changes everything as far as the race is concerned: we had the chance to increase our lead over our closest rivals, but now, it’s likely that at least some of
them will make up ground on me.”
Alonso came back from the summer break with a 40-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship. His first-lap exit from the Belgian Grand Prix cut that to 24 points. He does, however, have the small consolation of seeing his closest rivals, the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, are starting only fifth and 11th. “Tomorrow, we will try and to pick up as many points as possible, maybe getting ahead of some of my direct competitors,” continued Alonso. “We have to accept that problems like these can occur even if, when it does happen, the first reaction is disappointment. Having said that, it’s a case of better Saturday than Sunday, because then, you have no chance of remedying the situation!”
Like the La Source hairpin last weekend, the first turn into the Rettifilo chicane has a history of first lap incident. Starting tenth Alonso is potentially in the worst place should there be a collision – but the Spaniard brushed off the concern: “Risks starting in the middle of the pack? Given how the points table looks, it’s more a case of the others having to worry about coming away with another no score…”
Red Bull expected poor qualifying
Constructors’ Championship leaders Red Bull Racing had to settle for sixth and 11th in qualifying.
Sebastian Vettel, who qualified sixth, will start from fifth as a result of the gearbox change penalty awarded to Paul di Resta. Vettel finished Q2 just over a tenth ahead of his team-mate – but it was enough to see the World Champion through to Q3, while Mark Webber was eliminated.
“It’s pretty much what we expected today,” said Webber. “Seb and I were on the bubble there; it was very close between us – there’s only a tenth here and there and I’m out. No massive surprises. I’m 11th, so we can have a bit of a choice on what we can do tonight, but I’d rather be further up the grid. We’ve got a bit of a slog tomorrow; but it’s Monza so never say never.”
Vettel professed himself happy to finish the session in sixth place – this despite having finished on the podium six days ago at Spa. “I’m pretty happy with the result; my last lap should have been a bit quicker, but whether it would have made a difference or not is hard to say. If you look from us to the front, the gaps are too big. All weekend we were not quick enough, so P6 is a very good place to be. Let’s see what we can do in the race, I think the pace tomorrow should be better.”
Vettel missed out on the opportunity to complete a qualifying simulation run on the option tyres during Saturday morning’s FP3. With a few minutes of the session remaining he pulled off the track at the Ascari chicane with what was later defined as an alternator failure. Renault have sent the unit for analysis but stress this is a upgraded version of the device and not susceptible to the failure which afflicted Vettel and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean at the European Grand Prix.
1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.010s 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.133s + 0.123s 3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m24.247s + 0.237s 4. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.304s + 0.294s 5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m24.540s + 0.530s 6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m24.802s + 0.792s 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.833s + 0.823s 8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m24.855s + 0.845s 9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.109s + 1.099s 10. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.678s + 1.668s
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