Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix took part in very wet conditions once again and produced a quite extraordinary grid order for Sunday’s 53-lap event. In just his 22nd Grand Prix weekend Sebastian Vettel claimed a sensational first pole position for both himself and the Scuderia Toro Rosso team on a day when the expected front runners failed to shine in gloomy Monza conditions.
Vettel proved fast in all three qualifying sessions, topping the timesheets at the end of Q2 and more importantly as the chequered flag flew at the end of Q3. While a surprise result, it was by no means a fluke result as the young German racer has proven to be ultra-competitive in the wet conditions many times and the STR3 package continues to improve by the race.
As Vettel celebrates his pole, McLaren Mercedes salvaged a front row start courtesy of Heikki Kovalainen who looked far more at home in the conditions this weekend than his championship leading team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Mark Webber put in a very strong performance once again in his Red Bull Renault, moving third right at the end of the session when conditions were deteriorating and others were failing to improve. Making it three Adrian Newey designed cars in the top four was Sebastien Bourdais, who while not on the pace of team-mate Vettel, put in a great lap ahead of a spin right at the end of the session exiting the Ascari chicane.
Nico Rosberg has been there-or-thereabouts all weekend in his Williams Toyota and lines up an impressive fifth on a day that team mate Kazuki Nakajima disappointed once again in the second FW30.
Felipe Massa was the fastest of the championship contenders as he qualified his Ferrari in sixth position. Amazingly Robert Kubica, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton did not even make the top ten. For Massa, this is his chance to really try and make gains in the championship standings tomorrow afternoon.
Toyota struggled for pace in the dry conditions yesterday, but performed well in the wet today with Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock qualifying seventh and ninth with Fernando Alonso in between in the leading Renault. Nick Heidfeld starts tenth in his BMW Sauber ahead of Kubica who did not make it into the final round of qualifying.
For the first time this year, a Force India Ferrari made it into the second round of qualifying and Giancarlo Fisichella went on to qualify 12th ahead of the second Red Bull of David Coulthard. Kimi Raikkonen may have topped the timesheets in Friday practice, but did not perform in the wet in qualifying and starts 14th ahead of Spa Francorchamps Nemesis Lewis Hamilton who looked completely lost in terms of tyre and setup as the heavy rain intensified in Q2 . When the lights go out tomorrow afternoon, we’ll have to keep a close eye on the battle for the lead into turn one, but also in the mid-field.
Rubens Barrichello led the Honda charge and qualified in 16th position, missing out on making it into the second round of qualifying by less than a tenth of a second. With Jenson Button on the back row of the grid however, it was a disappointing run for the Honda team once again.
Nelson Piquet continued his season long struggle in the second Renault and will start the Italian Grand Prix from 17th position ahead of Nakajima in the second Williams. Adrian Sutil, considered by some to be super fast in the rain, did not shine today and was slowest of all in the second Force India Ferrari.
We have a very different look to the grid order but there is no doubting who the happiest man is this afternoon at Monza! Congratulations to Vettel and Toro Rosso Ferrari.
Source – F1-Live