Hamilton grabs pole position in Monza

Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren Mercedes team claimed their second pole position of the season at the historical Monza circuit, though the world champion had to dig deep to take the top spot in order to beat Adrian Sutil.

Force India continued their good form from Spa-Francorchamps with Sutil earning his best-ever qualifying performance with second position.

Initially, Hamilton’s early Q3 time of one minute, 24.605 seconds looked reasonable for pole until Sutil delivered a remarkable lap time with one minute, 24.261 seconds on his final run – despite an error at the first Lesmo.

That lap put Adrian onto provisional pole, echoing his former team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella at the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks’ ago. Alas, that dream result for the German and the team was put to one side as Lewis set purple sectors around the 3.6-mile track. The McLaren driver completed the Monza lap to retake pole position with one minute, 24.066 seconds.

Despite this, second position is Sutil’s best-ever qualifying performance in Formula One. Although come race day, he has the ominous prospects of two KERS-equipped cars starting right behind him, as Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari and Heikki Kovalainen’s McLaren claimed the second row spots.

On row three are the Brawns with Rubens Barrichello beating his team-mate Jenson Button by a small margin on 0.015 seconds. Both drivers are looking good for the race as it seems the BGP-001 are adopting an one pitstop strategy compare to their rivals.

Tonio Liuzzi backed up Force India’s superb form with seventh position – also a career best – on his return to Formula One after an absence of nearly two years.

As for Red Bull Racing, despite the limited amount of running in practice, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will start the Italian Grand Prix in ninth and tenth places, behind Renault’s Fernando Alonso.

And what about Giancarlo Fisichella? Who is driving for the Scuderia in their home race? Well, the Italian could only manage P14 in a car that has a unique driving style.

At least Giancarlo is ahead of the BMW Sauber pair of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld. The pair was forced to pull over with engine problems within minutes of each other during Q2.

Williams endured their worst-ever qualifying performance this season with Kazuki Nakajima outpaced Nico Rosberg. The pair will start the race in a disappointing row nine.

There was also massive disappointment for Toro Rosso. A year on from its amazing pole and victory, the team will start from the back of the grid, with its lack of pace making P20 qualifier Jaime Alguersuari’s gearbox change penalty irrelevant.

Qualifying times from Monza:

1.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      1:24.066
2.  Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  1:24.261
3.  Raikkonen    Ferrari               1:24.523
4.  Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes      1:24.845
5.  Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes        1:25.015
6.  Button       Brawn-Mercedes        1:25.030
7.  Liuzzi       Force India-Mercedes  1:25.043
8.  Alonso       Renault               1:25.072
9.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault      1:25.180
10.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault     1:25.314
11.  Trulli       Toyota               1:23.611
12.  Grosjean     Renault              1:23.728
13.  Kubica       BMW-Sauber           1:23.866
14.  Fisichella   Ferrari              1:23.901
15.  Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber           1:24.275
16.  Glock        Toyota               1:24.036
17.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota      1:24.074
18.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota      1:24.121
19.  Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1:24.220
20.  Alguersuari  Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1:24.951

5 thoughts to “Hamilton grabs pole position in Monza”

  1. The top three drivers’ views on qualifying, as taken from Autosport.com:

    Lewis Hamilton admitted he did not expect his McLaren team to be so quick at Monza after grabbing his second pole position of the season.

    The world champion, on pole at the European Grand Prix, had to push hard in the dying minutes of qualifying to beat his rival and friend Adrian Sutil, whose Force India team put on another sensational performance.

    Hamilton admitted he was delighted to have the German driver alongside him.

    “It was very close qualifying session and very happy to see Adrian up here,” said Hamilton. “It has probably not been since F3 that we were in a press conference together and qualifying together.

    “They (Force India) are incredibly fast and competitive, but our team did a great job this weekend. I was able to put the lap together. It’s such a great feeling to put that lap together, the public have to imagine what it is like, it is the most exciting exhilarating thing.

    “It is always like the first time so I am very happy.”

    The McLaren driver said his team had not expected to be so competitive this weekend, although he conceded strategies will play a big part tomorrow.

    “I guess we have to wait and see what the strategies are for everyone tomorrow, but we feel quite comfortable and needed to be where we are,” he said.

    “I don’t think we anticipated being as quick as we were this weekend. It is a bonus for everyone here, they keep pushing and have done a good job.”

    Hamilton also acknowledged the start will be crucial tomorrow, with the tight first chicane likely to cause trouble.

    “It is, I’ve been quite fortunate in the two times I’ve started here. It’s gone quite well and I am in best position to get around the first corner in a good spot and good condition.

    “We have KERS which should help us, but we just want to get around the first corner and enjoy the race. I hope we can enjoy it as much as anyone else.”

    Adrian Sutil described fighting for pole position for the Italian Grand Prix as a totally different experience to the rest of his Formula 1 career.

    Force India maintained the amazing form it had shown at Spa with Sutil only narrowly missing out on Monza pole to world champion Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren, while his new team-mate Tonio Liuzzi took an impressive seventh.

    “It is a great moment, a great deal,” said Sutil. “The whole weekend was a big success already. We did good work, and the car is amazing, really quick.

    “It’s unbelievable, it is so good for the team especially after the Spa success.

    “We continued it here and just being competitive, it is such a different feeling in the car right now. You know you have a chance.

    “It’s a good feeling like the racing driver is back in me. I enjoyed every single moment.”

    While Force India continued to shine, its former driver Giancarlo Fisichella had a low-key start to life at Ferrari and only managed 14th on the grid.

    But Sutil reckoned his former stablemate had expected a tough time at Monza.

    “He was saying already that maybe he would not have that strong a car compared to us,” said Sutil, “because he knew he could have won the last race, it was a very strong race from him.

    “But we have to understand that for an Italian driver his dream is to drive a Ferrari in F1 so everyone would have done this move.

    “He recovered a little bit, he had a difficult weekend so far but 14th is not so bad, and we replaced the seat quite well with Tonio, he also did a really good qualifying.”

    Kimi Raikkonen believes his Ferrari will be stronger in race trim than it was in today’s qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.

    The Finn, searching for his second consecutive victory after winning the Belgian Grand Prix, will start the Monza from third position, behind Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Sutil.

    The former world champion admitted his car was not perfect in qualifying trim, but he believes it will perform more strongly on Sunday.

    “It is not perfect for sure but it shows us again that once we put race fuel in the car it is stronger against the others,” said Raikkonen.

    “The car is more difficult in Q2 than in Q1 or Q3. It has been very good all weekend. We have some issues with it but unfortunately we cannot fix them as well as we want.

    “Overall, with race fuel the car is running nicely and I am very happy with it.

    “It was one of our best qualifyings of the season and it’s a good time to do it because it’s our home race and hopefully tomorrow will get us in a stronger place for the race and fight for top three places.

    “It will not be easy tomorrow but we will see how it goes.”

    He added: “In both races I think we knew that the car was going to be stronger in the race than in qualifying and if you start from sixth or third, it is a bigger chance to have a strong finish. It will be a long, hard race for the car, so I cannot really say much more.

    “We give the best and hopefully give the best for our Italian fans and ourselves.”

    Team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella, in his first race for Ferrari, qualified down in 14th.

  2. Jenson Button says he is targeting victory at the Italian Grand Prix despite having qualified down in sixth position.

    The championship leader admitted he has been pleased with the handling of his Brawn car all weekend, and claimed he has a strategy to go for first place on Sunday.

    “I’m happy,” said Button, who has scored just 11 points in the last five races.

    “All weekend I’ve been pretty happy with the car, and it got better in qualifying. It went well on both high fuel and low fuel.

    “I think we can go well from there [sixth]. My team-mate slightly pipped me, by 15 hundredths, which is a pain, but we’re in a good position.

    “I want to go out there and win this race. We’ve done the best strategy not to just score points but to do the best job we can this weekend. I think our strategy is good and I’m looking forward to it.”

    Button admitted, however, that he is concerned about the KERS-equipped cars around him, something he reckons could pose a problem as they could compromise his strategy.

    The Briton will start right in front of Fernando Alonso in the Renault, which is one of six cars using KERS this weekend.

    “The KERS cars will make it difficult at the start,” Button said. “I’m sure Alonso will be trying to fight his way through at the start. We’ve just got to hope that we’re running more fuel than them.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  3. Two contrasting fortunes from Liuzzi and Fisichella. Read on for details as taken from Autosport.com.

    Vitantonio Liuzzi admitted he was surprised with his performance in qualifying at Monza after a superb result for the Force India driver.

    Liuzzi, replacing Giancarlo Fisichella at the team, is racing in F1 for the first time since the 2007 season, having hardly tested the 2009 car before this weekend’s event.

    That didn’t stop the Italian on Saturday, however, as Liuzzi qualified in a strong seventh position.

    “I cannot complain at all,” said Liuzzi. “We’re in seventh place for tomorrow and I’m really optimistic because our weight is quite interesting, looking at the others’ speeds.

    “We have a chance to make a good race, which I wasn’t expecting because I wasn’t ready – I hadn’t raced for a year and a half. That’s a long time to wait.”

    The Force India driver said he was trying hard not to make any mistakes in qualifying, and is now targeting a points finish on Sunday.

    “I was a bit scared to make a little mistake and not put the lap together, but the car was well-balanced,” he said. “There was a little bit of understeer in the final stint, and perhaps without that it would have been possible to challenge the Brawns.

    “We have to see about the weather tomorrow because it is getting cloudy now – we have to hope that it doesn’t rain. I’m optimistic that we can fight for points, the more the better.”

    Giancarlo Fisichella says he has no regrets whatsoever about having moved to Ferrari, despite failing to match the performance of his former team Force India in qualifying at Monza.

    Fisichella secured pole position and fought for victory in the previous race at Spa with the Force India car, before he moved to Ferrari for the rest of the season.

    The Italian Grand Prix weekend has not been easy for Fisichella, however, and the Roman qualified down in 14th after having crashed in the morning.

    Force India drivers Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi were second and seventh.

    “I am happy for them. I am happy even, because I did a fantastic job over there,” said Fisichella.

    “I did a fantastic development of the car and this is the result. I am happy because in the last race I was second in the race, I did a pole position which was a great result.

    “But this one – the chance to be a Ferrari driver was the dream of my life and even if they can win the next five races, I would make the same decision. I want to be a Ferrari driver for the rest of the season.

    “I am happy about my choice and I am sure I can do a good job.”

    Fisichella admitted his crash during the final practice session had hit his chances of a better qualifying.

    “A lot. After many years in Formula 1, I have a lot of experience and I know how important FP3 is,” he added.

    “It is really important – especially for my team. It was important to do as many laps as possible to have a better feeling with the car, to get the right set-up for the qualifying session, to work on the soft tyre – and it was quick frustrating.

    “I was really sad, really disappointed before the qualifying session. I was not comfortable and confident, but considering all of this – for this it is quite a good result.

    “The team has been very happy considering what happened, and considering my start position for tomorrow. So I thank all my mechanics, who did a fantastic job to rebuild the car just in time for the qualifying session after the crash.”

    The Italian said he is still adapting to his new car, especially as it has KERS, something that Force India did not use all season.

    “KERS is not easy, but it is not difficult,” he added. “It is a switch, which gives you some good acceleration for Turn Two, and at the exit of Lesmo Two and the last corner. You need to switch it on, you need to switch it off and you need to switch some other button up and down – on and off.

    “I am much more busy now compared to where I was in Force India – where we didn’t even have front flap adjustment. I need to work quite well with my engineer, who is doing a fantastic job.

    “On the radio he is talking a lot and he has helped me in the right direction, so for sure I just need to improve. Everything is going well and tomorrow it will be a much better day for me – and in the race I have a good chance to do well.

  4. The Brawn team will decide tomorrow whether to replace Rubens Barrichello’s gearbox after admitting there was a chance it might fail in the Italian Grand Prix.

    “We are going to have a look at all the information and decide, but no decision yet,” said team boss Ross Brawn after qualifying at Monza.

    “Now we know the fuel weights, we now do all the calculations and see how the race would run, and then decide then. In the morning we will make a decision and sleep on it – there is nothing we can do tonight other than simulate and model.”

    He added: “There is an element of reliability risk and a question of balancing that against the very good qualifying position he has with the fuel on board, so we are just contemplating it at the moment.”

    Barrichello’s gearbox, in its second race out of the allocated four, was damaged at the end of the previous race in Belgium when his car suffered an oil leak and caught fire.

    If the team decides to replace it, Barrichello will lose five places on the grid tomorrow.

    The Brazilian was delighted after qualifying in fifth position, and admitted he did not want the gearbox replaced.

    “I tell you I think it is a great, great place to be starting,” he said. “Being fifth on the grid with possibly the heavy of the fuel loads, I cannot confirm that but hopefully that is the case. It was a hell of a good lap, I enjoy my time fully.

    “There is a little bit of a conversation with the team about my gearbox, over the over-torque that happened in the last race, and I don’t want it changed – some people want it – I don’t want to be leading the race and have a failure, at the same time I have to fight for what I really can achieve which is winning tomorrow.

    “It is almost like if you win tomorrow you have a penalty some other time, but it would also be silly to be leading and have a penalty, so I want to have a decision with the team and see what comes out. They are waiting for the fuel of everyone and then putting the plots and seeing what is what.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  5. From the 2009 season, the FIA is making public the weights of the cars, with their fuel load included, following Saturday’s qualifying session.

    Below is the weight of each car following qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, sorted by qualifying position.

    Pos Driver Weight (kg)
    1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 653.5
    2. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 655.0
    3. Raikkonen Ferrari 662.0
    4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 683.0
    5. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 688.5
    6. Button Brawn-Mercedes 687.0
    7. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 679.5
    8. Alonso Renault 677.5
    9. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 682.0
    10. Webber Red Bull-Renault 683.0
    11. Trulli Toyota 703.0*
    12. Grosjean Renault 699.8*
    13. Kubica BMW-Sauber 697.5*
    14. Fisichella Ferrari 690.0*
    15. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 697.5*
    16. Glock Toyota 709.8*
    17. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 706.2*
    18. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 708.6*
    19. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 706.0*
    20. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 706.0*

    * Declared weight

    Judging by the fuel load of the Brawns of Jenson and Rubens, the pair are looking the favourite to score big come the 53-lap race.

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