Alonso takes Ferrari’s first pole this season

Fernando Alonso takes his first pole position as a Ferrari driver at the Italian team’s home race at Monza. It has been two years since the Scuderia started from the front and this result is a great achievement for the Spaniard, the team and especially for the passionate tifosi.

Felipe Massa could not quite make it an all-Ferrari front row, but will start in third, with Jenson Button’s McLaren splitting the red cars. It’s interesting that Button has opted the F-duct system while team-mate Lewis Hamilton decided to go without in a hope for better straight-line speed. The differences between the pair is 12kph, without the aid of the F-duct but meaning loss of stability under braking.

For Red Bull Racing, this was the worst qualifying performance of the season, with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel back in an unaccustomed fourth and sixth.

As for the championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who has decided to run without the F-duct system, the McLaren driver could only manage fifth.

Seventh went to Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg, while his team-mate Michael Schumacher had another mediocre qualifying run and will start in a disappointing P12.

It was a solid performance for Williams with Nico Hulkenberg taking eighth and Rubens Barrichello only two places behind, split by Renault’s Robert Kubica.

In the battle between the new Formula One teams, Lotus and Virgin Racing were evenly matched throughout the qualifying session before some strong last laps earned Jarno Trulli the so-called ‘division two pole’ in P18.

Qualifying times from Monza:
1.  Alonso         Ferrari                 1:21.962
2.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:22.084
3.  Massa          Ferrari                 1:22.293
4.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault        1:22.433
5.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes        1:22.623
6.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault        1:22.675
7.  Rosberg        Mercedes                1:23.027
8.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth       1:23.037
9.  Kubica         Renault                 1:23.039
10.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:23.328
11.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:23.199
12.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1:23.388
13.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1:23.659
14.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:23.681
15.  Petrov         Renault                1:23.819
16.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:23.919
17.  de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari         1:24.044
18.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth         1:25.540
19.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth         1:25.742
20.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes   1:25.774
21.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1:25.934
22.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth        1:25.974
23.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth           1:26.847
24.  Yamamoto       HRT-Cosworth           1:27.020

11 thoughts to “Alonso takes Ferrari’s first pole this season”

  1. Fernando Alonso admitted he was surprised to be able to keep pole position at Monza, after the Ferrari driver gave his team its first pole since 2008.

    Alonso scored Ferrari’s first pole since the Brazilian Grand Prix two years ago, ending the Italian squad’s longest drought since the 1990s.

    It was also the Spanish driver’s first pole of the season, and Alonso admitted he was expecting someone to beat him in the dying moments of qualifying.

    “It was a nice surprise,” said Alonso, whose result meant his 19th pole in F1. “I stopped in parc ferme and by radio they told me we were keeping pole position but there were still a couple of guys doing laps, and Button had a pink in middle sector.

    “I thought in the end someone would arrive on the last lap and we would be second or third by a some hundredths of a second.

    “Today was different. We remained on pole position until the end – a nice surprise, a much better feeling.”

    Alonso, who is 41 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton said he felt no pressure to win tomorrow’s race, but conceded it was vital to finish at least on the podium.

    “Tomorrow we need a podium minimum to remain in the fight but there is not a big pressure,” he said. “There is not a big stress about winning the race or the next races, but at the same time we know we cannot afford another DNF or another bad result.

    “Let’s be consistent, try to be on the podium minimum. If we can win the race great, we need consistency – something we didn’t have so far in the championship. Tomorrow we have a good chance to put a strong result and see how our opponents go.”

    Team-mate Felipe Massa completed Ferrari’s best qualifying of the year after securing third position.

    The Brazilian was confident of a strong race.

    “I think we have a good car,” he said. “I am happy with the car for the race. Yesterday we did a good job, we improved massively the car and I think we should be very strong tomorrow and I am looking forward.”


  2. With two McLaren drivers running different set-up featuring that F-duct system, it was Jenson Button who used that aero device which earned him second on the Monza grid. has the details below.

    Jenson Button felt his decision to stick with McLaren’s F-duct set-up was key to his front row qualifying position at Monza.

    While his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton opted not to use the F-duct and instead to run extremely low wing levels, but ended up only fifth on the grid, Button stuck with the drag-reducing device and claimed his best starting position since Istanbul last season – and his first front row start in a McLaren.

    “We came here not quite sure what approach to take in terms of downforce or efficiency,” Button admitted. “Our side definitely made the right decision to run the high downforce set-up – the F-duct.”

    He said the high downforce option felt more comfortable for him on a flying lap.

    “You have got more downforce, you can brake later, you can carry more speed through corners and you have to push very hard,” said Button. “It is different to running low downforce, with low downforce most of speed is through the straights and you have to tip-toe around corners.”

    Button added that he had made a slight error on his last Q3 lap, but was extremely satisfied with his result.

    “Qualifying was pretty good for me, I was close to the front in every session,” he said.

    “In Q3 you have to push a bit more, but it is tricky here – sometimes you push harder and you go slower. Out of Ascari I got some oversteer and ran wide over the circuit.

    “This is the first time I’ve been on thee front row of the grid all season. I am happy with approach we’ve had this weekend. I want a good start and a competitive race tomorrow.”

  3. Lewis Hamilton conceded not using the F-duct for qualifying in Italy proved to be a mistake after he struggled to match the leading cars.

    Unlike team-mate Jenson Button, the McLaren driver removed the F-duct for qualifying, and Hamilton had to settle for a disappointing fifth position.

    Button qualified in second position, just over a tenth behind pole-setter Fernando Alonso, with Hamilton over half a second behind the Briton.

    “I think potentially it had quite a big impact on the end result,” said Hamilton of removing the F-duct. “I’m quite disappointed, I think, with fifth place.

    “We chose to go with the lighter downforce level, which doesn’t have the F-duct, and the car is sliding everywhere so I struggled quite a lot on each tyre and I just didn’t have the downforce.

    “Wrong choice, bit of a mistake, but we’ll still push hard tomorrow.”

    He said his final run in Q3 was not ideal either.

    “I think I was probably too close to the car in front. Got a little bit in the tow of Mark Webber – I don’t need it in the straight speed because I’m already quite fast there.

    “I just needed to have downforce in the corners, but I was already too close to the car in front so probably a mistake there, but you learn from these and we’ll keep pushing tomorrow.”

    And the championship leader is not expecting his McLaren team to be stronger than its rivals in race trim.

    “I don’t think we have an advantage. Hopefully should be quite fast on the straights tomorrow, compared to the others, and so I hope this enables me to get close but the guys [with more downforce] can go faster through the corners, so it’s a real balance.”


  4. Mercedes GP driver Michael Schumacher will start the Italian Grand Prix down in a disappointing P12 and has admitted that was the best possible result given the speed of his Silver Arrows. has the details.

    Michael Schumacher says 12th position on the grid at Monza was probably the best result he could have achieved given the speed of his car.

    The Mercedes driver finished five places behind team-mate Nico Rosberg, admitting that the balance of his car was not perfect during the session.

    Schumacher said he is still hoping for a points finish tomorrow.

    “I am obviously not very happy with our qualifying today but my position is probably what my car was giving me,” said Schumacher.

    “We did not have a perfect balance, especially in some corners where the car was a bit loose, but then we did not come here expecting to achieve a great performance.

    “However the race will be long tomorrow and having been welcomed so nicely by all of my Italian fans, I obviously wish to at least grab some points for them.”

    Rosberg also reckons his position was the maximum he could have achieved.

    “Seventh place is definitely the best performance that was possible for us today so both I and the team can be pleased with that,” he said. “However we obviously want to be further up the grid so we shouldn’t get too used to being happy with such results.

    “In race trim, we are probably a little stronger than in qualifying, so I can hopefully gain a place or two tomorrow if something happens amongst the top six guys, and look to achieve some good points.”

  5. Neither Red Bull Racing drivers will start the Italian Grand Prix from the front row, the first time this season following the impressive qualifying form. Mark Webber has admitted that he surprise by the time gap. Read the story below:

    Mark Webber was surprised by the gap to the front-running cars in qualifying at Monza, although the Red Bull driver said his position was pretty much what he expected.

    “I would not have put the money on the gap being that big but the position is probably where we expected to be,” said Webber after finishing in fourth position, half a second behind pole-setter Fernando Alonso.

    “Fernando is very, very strong – Jenson is obviously on a different downforce level so they have split their cars how they are going around this race track – which is something some of the other teams have looked at as well. The position is what we expected, the gap is probably a little bit bigger than we expected.

    “Fernando was very strong, very, very quick – I think they have got the V10 out today and did a good job!”

    Red Bull said ahead of the weekend that Monza was likely to be its weakest track of the season.

    The Australian, second in the championship behind Lewis Hamilton, admitted he is hoping for a strong result despite Red Bull’s deficit.

    “It is human nature to always want more. It is nice and if there was a chance to get Felipe, then of course you want to get more,” he said.

    “But on Thursday night we would probably have signed up for losing nothing, give or take a point or two here or there, so victories are what make a big difference. Today was not a too bad qualifying and let’s see how tomorrow’s race goes.”

    Speaking about his hopes for the race, he said: “53 laps, very boring, and hopefully sitting here tomorrow night with you guys with some good points which we could definitely get. A boring race would be nice. If we can chip forward a little bit, who knows. Let’s see.”

    Webber admitted he was slightly worried about the reliability of his car after having stopped twice with problems during the weekend.

    “A little bit yes. We need to look at it and work on it with Renault, and see what the best plan is. It is not the first time we have seen this, we have experience with this kind of problem and we just need to chip away with it.”

    And he reckons the first corner could be crucial, with the tight chicane always dangerous at the start.

    “All the drivers know the score here. It is a particular challenging first part but we’ve all been there before. It is the same for quite a few tracks this year, we’ve seen that it can be difficult. It is different to Copse – but not much we can do about it.”

  6. World champion Jenson Button says that he and his closest title rivals must not just rely on points leaders Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber hitting trouble if they are going to get themselves firmly back in title contention.

    After the McLaren driver, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel all failed to score in Belgium a fortnight ago, the pressure is on them to close the points gap in today’s Italian Grand Prix or else risk seeing their title hopes effectively over for the season.

    And although Webber and Hamilton’s fourth and fifth placed positions on the Monza grid have set up what could be another crucial chapter in the title battle, Button insists that the onus is still on him to do the job himself.

    “There are a lot of us fighting for the championship and Fernando and myself are two drivers who need to get some points,” said Button, who qualified on the front row alongside Fernando Alonso. “It is amazing how quickly it can turn around.

    “The last race was pretty tough for myself, Fernando and Sebastian – and it can turn around very quickly. But you cannot just hope. I don’t think you can wish for others to have failures and reliability issues – you have to beat them on the day and that is exactly what we have to do.

    “None of us know what is going to happen. Fernando wants to win, I want to win. Felipe, Mark, Lewis and Seb do too, so it could be a very busy podium. For me I have to keep my head down.

    “I am having a lot of fun, enjoying the car and I am in a position where it is possible to fight for a victory here and that is very exciting. It is my best qualifying for about 24 races.”

    Button made best use of a high-downforce F-duct package at Monza to emerge as McLaren’s best-placed qualifying. And although that decision has left him languishing near the bottom of the speed trap figures – with his 329.5 km/h comparing to team-mate Hamilton’s 344.3 km/h – he is optimistic about how things will pan out for him in the race.

    “When you start from the front row you have to aim for a victory and if you cannot get a victory it becomes the next best thing down the order,” he said. “The important thing is we have a good car and I have the confidence going into the race race with the balance of the car and confidence on the circuit.

    “We are in a good position and, if you cannot finish on the podium, you have to make sure that you are finishing ahead of people you are competing with for the championship, which is quite a few cars.”

    When asked about the straight-line speed difference between himself and Hamilton, Button said: “I don’t think it is quite as big as it looks. Lewis got a very big tow in qualifying which hurt the lap – but that is the reason for such a big difference in straight-line speed. It is possibly the same with the Ferraris as well.

    “It is a big difference, as normally we are the ones with good straight-line speed, but I will do the best job I can to get in front of the rest. I am not just going to be looking in my mirrors.”

    Button was also upbeat that Felipe Massa would not adopt a tactical game to try and hurt McLaren’s chances in the race.

    “I think that Felipe wants a good result here,” said Button. “He is not going to do anything out of the ordinary. It is the home GP for Ferrari. He has been there a few years, he is here to race and if he finds himself in the lead in front of Fernando, I don’t think you will find him doing anything extraordinary that is going to impede us.”


  7. Following the WMSC decision not to penalise the Ferrari team any further following the controversy team orders at Hockenheim, the McLaren team has warned its title rivals not to adopt team orders in the remaining Grands Prix. Read the full story as taken from

    McLaren’s title rivals have been warned to think very carefully before trying to use blatant team orders in the Formula 1 title battle just yet – despite the FIA’s ruling on the matter this week.

    The governing body’s World Motor Sport Council met in Paris on Wednesday to examine Ferrari’s use of team orders at the German Grand Prix. Although the disciplinary panel ruled that Ferrari were guilty of breaching the regulations, it decided not to impose any further sanctions on the Maranello-based outfit.

    Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner reckoned that the FIA decision effectively set a precedent that teams could expect $100,000 fines for using team orders – but McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh is not so sure.

    “I think that would be a very risky interpretation,” Whitmarsh said when asked by AUTOSPORT for his understanding of the situation.

    “I don’t quite understand the logic of that [FIA] ruling, but we should all assume that if you are in clear breach of the regulations then you can expect to have a lot more than $100,000 thrown at you.”

    Although Ferrari is now clearly throwing all its weight behind Alonso’s title bid, and Red Bull Racing may soon have to start backing Mark Webber over Sebastian Vettel if the Australian keeps his points advantage, Whitmarsh said his outfit was not considering installing a number one at his team yet.

    Reflecting that a similar decision to keep both drivers equal had cost McLaren the 2007 world title, Whitmarsh said: “I think clearly we don’t like to lose world championships and it [2007] was a painful year in all sorts of ways for this team.

    “But I think that it would have been very easy for us and it was very tempting to change your view, your philosophy, but in a straight way I am proud that we didn’t.

    “I know we did everything in our power to be fair and equitable, and I certainly said to a gentleman who is not here [at McLaren] today that if you want to win a world championship then you want to look yourself in a mirror and know you won it and it has not been gifted. And I think that is the right approach.”

    He added: “It hurts at the time, but I think people can run their race teams how they like – and we are not here to comment on how other people do it.

    “One of the things I would say and have said a number of times this weekend is that Jenson is here for a range of reasons and one of those is that he had the confidence and the belief that he was going to get a fair shout.

    “He knew that I and others had known Lewis for many, many years, and were committed to try and get Lewis to win world championships. But Jenson had trust in this team when he chose to join this team and he would not have done so if he had observed this team differently. That is a tangible upside and I am very proud and happy that Jenson’s here.

    “Life goes around and you have to look at the whole. That was a painful and bruising year, but Lewis and I came out of it stronger and more resolved. We want to win this world championship and do it in the right way.”

  8. Sebastian Vettel says he is not planning to try anything crazy to gain positions following a difficult qualifying at Monza.

    The Red Bull driver needs a strong result at the Italian Grand Prix in order to reduce the gap to championship leader Lewis Hamilton, 31 points ahead in the standings.

    But Vettel will start down from sixth position as Red Bull endured its worst qualifying of the year.

    Despite his place on the grid, Vettel says the best approach for the race is to stay calm and see how the event develops.

    “I said earlier to someone from TV, that according to all the experts who were speaking up lately about giving me driving lessons and so on, I have two choices – and I am not quite sure what I want to do,” Vettel said.

    “Either, I could follow the experts and how they analysed: I could be a bowling ball and just get rid of the five cars ahead. Or, just approach the race as I usually do: normal. Just try to do the smartest that I can do!

    “It is a long race. We know it is not an easy one, because simply we are not the quickest. We do not have the pace here, we don’t have the speed on the straights – so we will see what we can do.

    “The weapons we fight with are fairly limited but we are here to find out – as we said. We are still optimistic, the pace was good on Friday and in the long runs. I reckon Ferrari was lighter than McLaren and us, so we will see what we are up to tomorrow.”

    The German driver admitted that having Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso on pole is a positive thing, with Hamilton starting right in front in fifth.

    “I think being in my position, I am only sixth for the race, but anything can happen,” he said. “It is a long race and we know it won’t be easy for us to pass a lot of cars with the speed we have, but I don’t think it is a bad thing to have someone like Fernando in front.

    “Looking at the championship, it would be worse if Lewis was on pole. Anything can happen. Speaking about Lewis, he is the fastest on the straight-line. If he has a good race tomorrow, I don’t think he has any problems to overtake people. That is why we are here and we will have to find out.”

    The Red Bull driver, whose team expected the Monza race to be its weakest yet, said he was upbeat following a strong Friday, but things got worse in qualifying when rivals raised their game.

    “On Friday we had a very good day and on Saturday morning too we had very good pace. So we were positively surprised by how quick we were. Over the season you get a feel and idea of fuel loads, and how competitive you might be – and which range the others are testing in.

    “So we were actually quite confident. And going into qualifying, right from Q1, we struggled to get up to speed and up to laptime, and repeat the times from the morning.

    “The others did what you expected – just went quicker. Usually come Saturday afternoon, you bolt new tyres on, you take the fuel out and you go quicker.

    “For us, it wasn’t really the case and for myself in qualifying it was quite slow on the straights. We knew that this would be a tough circuit for us but we lost a little bit to ourselves compared to the morning and Friday – where we still had fuel in the car.”


  9. Three championship points is the difference between Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber, and the former has said that his main focus is to pass the Australian as soon as possible following qualifying. has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton says overtaking Mark Webber is his main priority for the start of the Italian Grand Prix following a difficult qualifying.

    The McLaren driver, leading the championship from the Australian by three points, will start from fifth place, one position behind Webber.

    Hamilton said he is still hoping to beat all his rivals, but conceded passing Webber early on will be his main goal.

    “I guess it would be good for us to finish ahead of him,” the Briton said. “We are only three points ahead of him. Clearly we want to finish ahead of everyone up front but he is the closest rival to me at the moment so he has to be the priority at the beginning of the race.

    “But of course we want to finish 1-2 tomorrow, so I will do everything I can – I might take some tips off Jenson. He is pretty good at coming from where I am, and getting up there.”

    The Briton said he did not feel having opted to go into qualifying without the F-duct was necessarily an error, but he said he had not managed to extract the best from the package.

    “I don’t think it is necessarily a mistake,” said Hamilton. “While I was out there, I am on the lightest downforce level. For me I tried both downforce levels and both were as fast as each other but my own allowed me to be a little quicker on the straights.

    “I felt it was the direction I wanted to go in, and maybe in qualifying I was just was not in enough free space to have the optimum balance and get the most out of it, so that is probably my fault.”

  10. Red Bull Racing says its priority in the Italian Grand Prix is to just bring both its cars home in the points – as it awaits the return of tracks that will suit its package better.

    The long straights and low-downforce nature of Monza had always been pinpointed as the toughest venue of the season for the Milton Keynes-based outfit – and it duly delivered its worst qualifying performance of the season so far.

    And with Red Bull expecting a similarly tough time in the race, team principal Christian Horner thinks that the ambitions will be at a lower level to what they have been at other venues.

    “Our target obviously is to give as harder time to the McLarens and Ferraris as we can,” he told AUTOSPORT. “If we can keep Lewis [Hamilton] behind Mark [Webber] that would be a fantastic result, but I think the key is to make sure that we finish and get some points – that is the number one objective.

    “It can get fairly busy down at the first couple of turns, so we just need to keep the nose clean and hopefully bring home some vital points.”

    Although Red Bull Racing failed to qualify on the front row of the grid for the first time this season, Horner said he was actually encouraged by where they ended up.

    “I think we feel quite surprised that we have managed to get ahead of a McLaren on the grid,” he said. “Mark produced an excellent final lap, but the Ferraris had tremendous pace – and the lap time that Fernando did we were never going to be able to challenge with the package that we have at a circuit like this.

    “So fourth and sixth at a track you can overtake at is a pretty positive result, especially considering where the other championship protagonists are.

    “We knew coming here on paper it was our worst circuit. You only have to look at the size of the rear wings the other cars are running, and look at the straight-line performance, to understand what the important ingredients at a circuit like this are.”

    Horner added that he was hopeful that the reliability problems that had affected Webber in practice – a sensor fault in FP2 and an airbox fire in FP3 – were not causes for concern in the race.

    “It is always in the back of your mind, but our reliability record compared to others has been very strong this year,” he said. “So we are hopeful that the problems that we have seen won’t be repeated in the race.”


  11. Just a slight grid change for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix with Renault’s Vitaly Petrov receiving a five-place grid penalty after blocking Timo Glock during qualifying. has the details.

    Vitaly Petrov will lose five places on the grid at the Italian Grand Prix after impeding Timo Glock during qualifying.

    The Russian Renault driver blocked Glock as he was joining the track from the pits, when the Virgin driver was starting a flying lap.

    Glock was forced to slow down as Petrov drove slowly through the first chicane.

    The Renault driver, who qualified in 15th, was given a five-place penalty.

    “I can only apologise to him if I held him up,” said Petrov. “I didn’t see him coming up behind me and didn’t see any blue flags as I came out of the pits.

    “My grid penalty will make things even harder in the race but, as we saw in Spa, tomorrow is another day and a lot can still happen.”

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