Italian GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Vettel Turns 40
Sebastian Vettel won the 40th pole of his F1 career after clocking the fastest time in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix. He earned his first pole at the same Monza circuit in 2008.
"It's a special track and I have great memories since I won here in 2008," he said. "The weekend has been perfect; the car has been fantastic since the start of the weekend. It's a good surprise to have a lock on the front row, as historically we've struggled here but tomorrow is the day that counts."
His Red Bull teammate Mark Webber gridded second, his best ever at Monza.
"I was looking for a personal best here as this hasn't been the best track for me," he said. "I'm happy with the result, I looked wobbly in Q1 but in Q3 the pace was there."
Nico Hulkenberg qualified a fabulous third in his Sauber.
"It was a nice surprise," he said, "I wasn't expecting that. Yesterday we struggled, but the guys did a fantastic job and gave me a very competitive car today. It was great in all three sessions, we took the right decision to do just a timed lap in Q3 and it paid off. This has been a difficult year for the team, but our long run pace should be OK. We won't be able to challenge these guys, but we are certainly targeting a strong point's finish."
Esteban Gutierrez steered his Sauber out onto the pit straight as Q1 began.
The ambient air temperature at the start of the 60-minute session was 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was also 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius).
Nico Rosberg, who had missed part of FP3 in the morning because his Mercedes was overheating, was another early runner. He was on Pirelli's hard tires and the team planned for him to do an eight lap run.
Gutierrez set the first time of the session: 1:26.293. Then Rosberg clocked a 1:25.276. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) lowered the best to 1:25.261. Next Fernando Alonso set a 1:24.938 in his Ferrari.
8 minutes into the session, Vergne went fastest with a 1:24.630. Sebastian Vettel, quickest in FP3, had not even bothered to go out on the track yet.
Just past the midpoint of Q1 Vettel finally headed out of the Red Bull garage and onto pitlane. The top three at this time were: Vergne, Alonso and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes.)
12 minutes into the session, Vettel posted his first time: 1:24.697, good enough to put him in third place.
15 minutes into the session, Hamilton went fastest with a 1:24.589. Vettel then beat that with a 1:24.319.
The top six drivers at the end of Q1 were: Vettel, Rosberg, Hamilton, Vergne, Sergio Perez (McLaren) and Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso.)
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q1 were: Gutierrez, Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Guido van der Garde (Caterham), Charles Pic (Caterham), Jules Bianchi (Marussia,) and Max Chilton (Marussia.)
Ricciardo followed by Paul di Resta (Force India) got things rolling in Q2.
Ricciardo also set the first time of the session: 1:24.746.
That time stood as the fastest until 7 minutes into the 15 minute session when Felipe Massa (Ferrari) topped it with a 1:24.705 and then Fernando Alonso clocked a 1:24.227 in his Ferrari.
Rosberg slipped into second place with a time of 1:24.538.
Neither Red Bull driver had turned a lap with 6 minutes remaining in the session. Then, with less than five minutes to go, they were out on the track.
With 2 minutes remaining in the session, Webber went second quickest with a 1:24.263. Then Vettel topped the timing screens with a 1:23.977.
With less than a minute remaining in the session, Hamilton went from 16th to ninth. But he got bumped down to 12th.
The top 10 drivers at the end of Q2 were: Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber), Rosberg, Massa, Jenson Button (McLaren), Vergne and Perez.
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), Hamilton, Grosjean (Lotus), Adrian Sutil (Force India), Pastor Maldonado (Williams) and di Resta.
And so it was on the 10-minute Q3 which would set the top 10 grid places for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.
Rosberg was first out. And he set the first time: a leisurely 1:28.332 which Webber beat with a 1:23.990.
All the drivers were, of course, on the medium compound Pirellis.
Halfway through the session Vettel clocked a 1:23.859. Alonso was currently third with a 1:24.419.
Only 5 drivers set times in the first half: Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Massa and Rosberg. The rest were going to go for one lap right at the end of the session.
All 10 drivers were on track in the final moments going for a time.
Vettel improved to a 1:23.755 to win the pole. Webber improved to a 1:23.968 to hold onto second on the grid.
Hulkenberg clocked a speedy 1:24.065 to claim a fabulous third.
Ferrari's plans to have Alonso draft Massa didn't work as Massa was too far ahead. So Massa qualified fourth and Alonso fifth. Rosberg, Ricciardo, Perez, Button and Vergne (who slid off the track) rounded out the top 10.