Italian GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Vettel takes 10th 2011 pole at Monza
Sebastian Vettel (1:22.272) set a conclusive pole position for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, maintaining the team's 100% pole position record in 2011.
Vettel's time was almost half a second clear of the two McLarens as Lewis Hamilton (1:22.725) and Jenson Button (1:22.777) finished the session split by just five hundredths of a second.
"We thought it would be much closer than that," Vettel admitted. "I had a bit of an improvement on the second lap of my first run, and to be honest we weren't sure whether the tyres would be better on the first or second lap. Then I made a bit of a mistake but the last run was really good.
"The last two years Monza has not really suited us but this year the car is great here and the balance is perfect. We don't carry a lot of wing but we are quite quick in all three sectors. It's not just wings, we have a lot of downforce but this year the most important thing is to have the balance and we feel good on that this year."
Having looked strong throughout practice, Hamilton admitted that the team had no answer to Vettel's pace.
"I didn't have another half a second in the bag, that's for sure," he said. "Maybe another couple of tenths but the guys have done a great job to bring the new components to the track. It looked like we might be competitive but Sebastian was untouchable on that last run."
Button, pipped by his team mate by just five hundredths, said: "Third is normally a pretty good place to start but here is hard because you can't get past the first two guys if they make a decent start.
"I agree with Lewis that Red Bull was very fast today. They don't look like they are carrying a lot of wing but they are quicker than us in the last sector with the high speed corners. It's not as important to be on pole here with DRS this year and it's a long race. Sebastian says that Red Bull has gone pretty racy on the set-up and I think I know what he means. We have gone in a similar direction and I think we could have an interesting race. I hope Red Bull won't have things all their own way."
Last year's winner Fernando Alonso (1:22.841) will start fourth on the grid in the quicker of the two Ferraris, ahead of Mark Webber (1:22.972) in the second Red Bull and Felipe Massa's Ferrari (1:23.180). Webber did just the one Q3 run.
The Ferrari's relative kindness to the soft tyre could bring it into the picture during the race depending on ambient/track temperature.
Vitaly Petrov's Renault (1:23.530) will line up seventh, ahead of the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher (1:23.777) and Nico Rosberg (1:24.477), which didn't manage to mount the qualifying challenge that some predicted.
Bruno Senna made it through to Q3 for the second successive race since taking over Nick Heidfeld's seat at Renault, but elected not to run in Q3 having used two sets of option tyres to progress from Q2.