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