Monza Qualifying: Hamilton leads McLaren 1-2 as Ferrari’s plan backfires
8 September, 2012
Sep.8 (Apex) Despite the trials and tribulations of the past week, Lewis Hamilton made no mistakes to claim pole position for the Italian Grand Prix ahead of his McLaren teammate Jenson Button while Ferrari’s slip-streaming plan backfired mightily in front of the tifosi.
Hamilton has been ‘hot’ all weekend, only beaten in the Friday morning session at the ‘Temple of Speed” and he carried the momentum right through qualifying, always at the upper end of the timing screens and then delivered the fastest lap of the weekend with his first run of Q3 – a time of 1 minute 24.010 seconds.
The 2008 world champion summed up his session, “It’s been a tough weekend. We managed to work on set up. Congratulations to the team. It was a great effort. I managed to get a half decent lap early in Q3 so I’m pretty happy. It’s great for the team to have Jenson up front, too. I haven’t had any distractions this weekend. It’s been quite positive. The support from my family and friends have been incredible. I’ve just been enjoying weekend. It’s been great so far.”
Second fastest, and making it an all McLaren front row, was Spa winner Button who has been a tad down on Hamilton all weekend but did enough to ensure a perfect qualifying result for the Woking squad.
“First of all it’s fantastic for the team for us both to be on the front row. The last few races have shown the strength of the team,so to qualify at the front at Monza is great – I don’t think any other team has managed to do that this season. [But] being on the front row here doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy,” said Button.
Third on the grid and, for the first time this season, out qualifying his Ferrari teammate was Felipe Massa who was helped by a tow provided by Fernando Alonso on his first run, and it appeared that the reverse was planned with Massa set to tow the Spaniard on the final run, but things did not go according to plan and Alonso ended tenth fastest.
Massa explained afterwards,”I think he [Fernando Alonso] had a problem to be honest; I thought he’d do well here. I don’t know what problem he had but it was in Q3. I’m happy with the lap I did. We did the tow, but my best lap came when I was outside the tow at the end. I’m happy to be here, it’s always an important race for us here at Monza.”
For championship points leader Alonso, who had a myriad of problems on the first day, it will be a blow because by the morning he had found strong pace in the F2012 and was quickest in both Q1 and Q2. In fact his best time – ironically his Q1 time of 1 minute 24.175 seconds would have put him third on the grid.
He wrote on Twitter, “After the quali, we miss the fight for pole with a failure! I think tomorrow will be a perfect day to recover some good positions.”
Performing way above his station was Paul Di Resta in the Force India who was fourth fastest, but due to a gearbox change will take a five place drop on the grid. His teammate, who starred at Spa a week ago, was dogged with a mechanical issue which prevented him doing any laps at all in qualifying and is destined to start from the back of the grid.
Five time winner of the Italian GP (more than any other driver) Michael Schumacher is still revered by the tifosi, and got the flags waving in the grandstands with the fifth fastest time, in the Mercedes. He will benefit from Di Resta’s misfortune and will start from fourth on the grid.
As at Spa, Red Bull were off the top pace throughout the weekend and will be in damage control mode come the race. Clearly the RB8 does not offer the energy drinks ‘boy’ the advantage that the RB7 had a year ago at the same place, when Vettel qualified on pole and drove away with the race. This time around the reigning world champion was sixth fastest and will start from fifth.
No bull from their straight talking Aussie who was way down in 11th, “No massive surprise, that’s roughly where we thought we’d be and where we ended up. We’ve got work to do. I was pretty happy with my lap.”
Nico Rosberg was seventh fastest in the Mercedes, the German driver’s struggles with the clumsy W03 evident inthe cockpit view as he literally wrestled his car through the turns and chicanes of Monza. The car seemingly not suiting his style any more, as it did in China, and appearing more suited to his teammate’s more aggressive style.
Monza this year has proved to be the great leveler as teams whose cars have been surprisingly quick just about everywhere else – Lotus, Sauber and Williams – have struggled noticeably at the fastest track on the calendar.
Second on the grid at Spa, Kamui Kobayashi could only manage ninth at Monza and that took a big effort from the Japanese driver who is starting to raise his game, vis-a-vis his teammate Sergio Perez, who was 13th.
At the foot of the timing sheets Narain Karthikeyan got the better of his HRT teammate Pedro de la Rosa for the first time this season, and will not be starting from the back row of the grid for a change!
Thus McLaren have set themselves up in the best possible way for the race, and really the race is theirs to lose.
Ferrari on the other hand have apparently blown a chance of nabbing pole position on home soil and thus start the race on the back foot. But if anyone can turn eminent defeat into victory it is Alonso.
Add to the ingredients a couple of Red Bulls and an Iceman and we have the makings of another epic encounter. Bring it on as we like to say!
Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying – Saturday, 8 September 2012
|4||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:24.875||1:24.345||1:24.304||17|
|6||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:25.011||1:24.687||1:24.802||22|
|11||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:25.556||1:24.809||21|
|23||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:27.629||10|
|24||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||No time||2|
|Q1 107% Time||1:30.067|
- Maldonado drops five grid spots for a jump start and five for causing a collision at the previous round.
- Di Resta drops five for an unscheduled gearbox change.
- Monza Practice 3: Hamilton tops by 0.001 seconds from Alonso
- Monza Practice 2: Hamilton tops as McLaren dominates and Ferrari chases
- Monza Practice 1: Schumacher fastest early on
- Spa Qualifying: Button defies the odds and takes his first pole for McLaren
- Melbourne Qualifying: Hamilton leads McLaren charge as Ferrari mess up