Italian GP: Vettel defeats Hamilton for pole
||by Mark J. Cipolloni
|Saturday, September 10, 2011
|Sebastian Vettel ahead of the Ferrari of Alonso|
If there ever was a heir apparent to Ayrton Senna's title as the fastest man in F1 it would have to be defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel. On Saturday he won yet another pole position, his 10th of the season, easily outrunning McLaren's Lewis Hamilton 1m22.275s to 1m22.725s.
The Red Bull ace already had pole position locked up, but 1/10th of a second was not enough, so he went out and put in a time no one could beat.
Jenson Button will start third ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
Mark Webber was fifth for Red Bull ahead of Felipe Massa. Vitaly Petrov was 7th for Renault ahead of Michael Schumacher, who once again beat his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
Vettel was unbeatable on Saturday, his McLaren rivals admitted.
The Italian grand prix weekend looked set to be closely fought between Red Bull and the famous British team, but Vettel duly scored pole position by an easy half-tenth margin.
"Sebastian was mega quick today. That was untouchable," said fellow front-row sitter Lewis Hamilton.
His McLaren teammate Jenson Button, third, agreed: "We were never going to challenge Seb."
Red Bull entered the Monza weekend buoyed by good pace on the high speed Spa layout, but still wondering if the Renault engine would be good enough for the long straights.
"We did not think we would be on pole by such a big margin at a track that for the last two years did not suit us," admitted Vettel.
Team boss Christian Horner, speaking to BBC One television, agreed: "It's a massive margin, and was completely unexpected."
Sebastian Vettel (1st, 1:22.275): "We are surprised how competitive we are here and thought it would be much closer. We weren't sure if the tires were best for the first or second lap, but I made a bit of a mistake on the second. For the second run, I knew I had a bit more time in the car as I did the first lap on my own. For the second, I had one or two cars in front, which always helps here. That said, we would never have thought we could have got pole here, on this track which didn't suit our car for the last two years. This year, the car is very good and I'm very happy. Apart from the wing level, the most important thing to have here is balance and we're good on that this year. I felt very comfortable going into qualifying and throughout the session I could feel the track getting quicker. I simply went with the track and that is the secret, if there is any."
Mark Webber (5th, 1:22.972): "I think I made it a little bit difficult for the team today in terms of my run plan, I wasn't completely clear, so it wasn't the best Q3. The tires were certainly strong enough for the first lap, so two runs was the way forward I think, but ultimately I didn't get enough out of the car on the tires on one run only. We were managing the KERS too, as we had some issues on the last lap, which is never ideal but in the end we got fifth position. We know it can be an interesting first lap here, so I'm going to push as hard as I can. I have a good car for the race; so we'll see how we go."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "To achieve pole position in Monza is unbelievable and completely unexpected. It was a phenomenal last lap from Sebastian to achieve pole with an almost staggering margin. Mark elected to adopt a different strategy for Q3 and maybe, with 20/20 hindsight, two runs would have been preferable. However, he retains a new set of tires for the race tomorrow and we hope to have a very good race day. It's testimony to all the hard work that's gone into this Monza package at a track that's been notoriously tough for us and it's a perfect start to the weekend."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: "A pole in Monza is a wonderful result for Renault and Red Bull. The pace is really encouraging on this track, especially for Seb. Mark had some issues with KERS during qualifying, but I think he could have been P2 or P3. No doubt he's got a good set up for tomorrow and he'll be in the fight. We weren't expecting to be so quick on this track so it's a great start. "
Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 1:22.725): "Clearly, we're very competitive - Jenson and I both qualified in the top three - but Seb [Vettel] was mega-quick today. In Q1 and Q2 we were pretty close to him, but he pulled out another half-second in Q3. It was an extremely good lap. Still, I'm happy to be starting on the front row - after Spa it gives me another opportunity to be right up there in the race and to bag a lot of points. Above all, I want to finish, of course; but I reckon I can get a good start from where I am, and, if there's an chance to get into the lead, I'll take it. We've improved all weekend, and second and third is a good result for the team. In fact, we have a good chance to get our first one-two of 2011 tomorrow - I'm optimistic."
Jenson Button (3rd, 1:22.777): "I was pretty happy with my first run in Q3, but I thought I'd be able to squeeze another tenth or so out of my final run. But, on my second attempt, I went a tenth down in the first sector and never really caught that up for the remainder of the lap, so I aborted it. Third is usually a pretty good place to start - it's on the clean side of the track - but around here it can be pretty tough to find a way past the first two cars on the run down to the first corner. But we're focused on tomorrow, the team is in a good position, and we can definitely score some good points. I think we've correctly chosen the appropriate drag and downforce levels, and the right gearing too, so we should be happy with the work we've done so far this weekend. I don't think Red Bull will have it all their own way tomorrow. I think we'll be in the mix, which is what the fans want to see."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "It probably sounds a bit churlish for me to say that we're a little disappointed today - because second and third is a pretty decent result when all's said and done - but our car is performing very well here and it would have been nice if we could have bagged pole position. Lewis and Jenson had each posted a good, fast lap in Q3 - but, in their efforts to improve, pushing to the limit, they both made small mistakes in the first half of their laps, losing time in the process. We therefore elected to abort both their laps. So second and third it was, and second and third it is. As I say, pole position would have added the icing on the cake, but the reality is that, in P2 and P3, Lewis and Jenson are both very well placed to win tomorrow's race. They're both great racers, so that's what they'll both be aiming to do."
Fernando Alonso (4th, 1:22.841): "Fourth place is possibly my most common result in qualifying this season, so I definitely cannot be surprised at this performance. Usually, in the race we go better than in qualifying, therefore this grid position could provide the basis for a podium finish, which is our realistic target for tomorrow afternoon. Fighting for the win? I think it will be very difficult, even if this year's races have often thrown up surprises. I will try to make up some places at the start, which could make the race even more interesting. It was not easy to find the right balance on the car this weekend. We made a lot of changes to the set-up after each session and again this morning we were not satisfied. Then unexpectedly, in qualifying, the car improved and was more stable under braking and easier to drive, to the extent that we were always in the top four or five positions in each session. Clearly the higher temperatures helped, otherwise we would not be just a few hundredths off the McLarens, after being over two seconds away in Spa qualifying. We hope it will be equally hot tomorrow: it would be great to get a result to delight all our fans who will be in the grandstands."
Felipe Massa (6th, 1:23.188): "All things considered, it was a good qualifying, though definitely not an easy one, because we knew there were some very quick cars out there. The result is pretty much in line with our expectations going into the session. We worked well, trying to fine tune the car in one session after the next. In Q3, on my final run, I had got a good tow behind Michael, but then, I pushed a bit too much and lost precious time at the second chicane and the Lesmo corner. Maybe I could have been one or two places further up, but definitely nothing more than that. Tomorrow, I expect the race will be very close and difficult and rear tire degradation will be one of the key factors. As usual, strategy will be decisive and I hope I can do well. This is a very important event for Ferrari and we are keen to give our fans something to cheer about. The target? A place on the podium, but I know it will be very difficult."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "First and foremost, congratulations to Sebastian who produced an incredible pole lap: how lucky this is a track where they were not considered to be the favorites… We tried to do our best, aware that we did not have the best car. The team worked very well throughout the session, trying to get the most out of the package at our disposal. Obviously, we are keen to do well at our home race: our plan is to tackle it in attacking style. So far this has been a very busy weekend, from every point of view, but we know the key moment is yet to come."
Pat Fry: "If you work for Ferrari, you cannot be pleased with a fourth and a sixth place in qualifying, but we also need to be realistic about what we are currently capable of doing. We worked very hard on the car over the past two days and I think we managed to improve its performance significantly from one session to the next: I think the qualifying result confirms that, given where we started from yesterday morning. Clearly, the higher temperatures gave us a helping hand, especially when it came to getting the Mediums to work better, which can be seen from the fact that we have never been so close to McLaren and Red Bull in Q1 as we were today. The two drivers also did a very good job, always attacking to find the limit. Tomorrow's race will be very close. From the strategy point of view it will be interesting to see by how much the first stint can be extended to work out how many stops to make. The temperature will be another important factor, especially as regards tire degradation. The start will also be a "hot" time, as indeed is always the case here at Monza."
Michael Schumacher (8th, 1:23.777): "Qualifying today went mostly according to plan. I don't think we could have taken much more; maybe I could have ended up one place higher. I didn't have an ideal fast lap as I tried to use the slip stream from Lewis but then he locked up in the second chicane which made me lock up too. However I will be on soft tires tomorrow which should be better for my race. As our race pace looked quite good yesterday, I was more focusing on the race and trying to use the tires in the right way. For tomorrow, I will try to get a good start and take it from there."
Nico Rosberg (9th, 1:24.477): "I'm happy with today's qualifying and the compromise that we made to be strong in the race tomorrow. The performance in Q2 shows that the car is working well here, and we saved two sets of options which is good. I'm the only driver who took part in Q3 who will be starting on the hard tire, so it will be interesting and should help me a lot at the start of the race. I think it will be a really good race tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "Tire management will be crucial in the race, and we were very mindful with both cars that we must start the race on the same tires as we qualified on. For Nico, we opted for a prudent approach by running the hard tire which could open up a nice opportunity for him tomorrow and it will be very interesting to see how he progresses. Michael decided to use the soft tire in Q3, but only completed a single lap to preserve them for the race. Both drivers have fresh sets for the race - two sets of softs for Nico, and one for Michael - so we will see how this afternoon's tactical decisions play out. I think we can look forward to plenty of action."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Our target since Friday has been to get our preparations right for the race. We knew this could cost us one or two positions on the grid, but we hope that our strategy will pay off in the race tomorrow. Both Nico and Michael will have a number of fresh tires for the race which should help us too. But of course we are realistic in our targets and a result similar to Spa a fortnight ago is what we can achieve in a best-case scenario."
Vitaly Petrov (7th, 1:23.530): "I am extremely pleased to qualify in P7. It was a tough start to the practice session this morning, as we had a few aero issues to cope with. The team then came into the qualifying session having prepared a very good car for me, and they made the right decisions. It looks like we have brought the right downforce package to this race, although we will have to wait until the race tomorrow before we see full evidence of that. We are very, very happy to be lining up on the grid with both cars right up where they should be, and I'm optimistic of having a good race tomorrow."
Bruno Senna (10th, No Time): "I am satisfied with my performance because this was only my second qualifying session this year, and it was definitely a close shave getting into Q3. I was glad to have Vitaly as my reference today because I was struggling to find the right braking points in Q1 and Q2. I put a very respectable lap together at the end of Q2, and I was pleased that I was able to handle the pressure and slot into 10th position. If I had ran in Q3, I would have needed to use two sets of tires, so I'm glad I was able to save them and hopefully that decision will stand me in good stead come tomorrow's race. I would also like to thank the team for providing such a competitive car this weekend."
Rubens Barrichello (13th, 1:24.648): "All in all it has been a difficult weekend in terms of performance for us, and although we would be happier further up the order, we've done better today than we thought. Starting 13th and 14th gives us hope that we can score points, so we will keep thinking positive and do our best tomorrow."
Pastor Maldonado (14th, 1:24.726): "It was difficult for everyone in the team today. The mechanics did a great job to fix my car in time for me to get out in Q1. I then had a big moment on the first lap. The tires weren't ready so maybe I was a little too optimistic with the rear wing and I lost the car and touched the barrier. There wasn't too much damage, mainly the front wing which we were able to change. I think we are more competitive today and the team did a great job overall with Rubens in 13th as well, so now we are looking forward to the race."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Although we improved our pace from Friday, unfortunately it wasn't enough to get into the top ten today. However, all of our set-up is biased towards the race after we realized that we may struggle in qualifying to get the most out of the car. Rubens had an uneventful session, unlike Pastor. After a late start due to a KERS fault during morning practice, Pastor went off the track at the exit of Parabolica. This caused a lot of bodywork damage to his car that we could not fix until after the session, so his lap times were decent considering that. They should both have good race pace tomorrow. Well done also to all the mechanics in the garage who worked flat out to get Pastor's car out on time after the KERS problem."
Paul di Resta (11th, 1:24.163): "Overall I'm pretty pleased with how things went today. I was very close to making Q3 and it's a shame to miss out by just six thousandths of a second, but that just shows how fierce the fight is in the middle of the pack. One of the things that made the difference was getting a slipstream, which is something I didn't manage to get for my final run in Q2. Even so, I'm pleased with what we did because we were on the edge in that session and that's as much pace as we had. Also, being P11 means I'm the first car to have a free choice of tires, so perhaps that could work to our advantage, especially as I have a new set of soft ties available. I'm looking forward to the race because our long run pace has looked pretty good in practice and hopefully that will carry over into the race."
Adrian Sutil (12th, 1:24.209): "It was another normal session for me without any issues and I think we can be quite pleased with the outcome. We knew it would be tough to make Q3, but we were quite close and I feel I got the maximum from the car. Points are definitely possible, but it's not going to be easy because Renault and Mercedes look quite quick here. Race pace could be a different matter, but we will have to fight very hard to beat them. Plus, there are also a lot of quick cars behind us to watch out for. There are still a lot of unknowns for the race because there are a few options with the strategy and the big question is whether to stop once or twice."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "The qualifying hour at Monza is always spectacular to watch and today's session did not disappoint. We went into the day hoping to reach Q3, although we knew it would be a bigger task compared to the previous races because this is such a unique low downforce circuit. In the end we just missed out, with Paul and Adrian lining up in P11 and P12 for tomorrow's race. All considered it's not a bad result and was probably the most that was possible today because both drivers drove excellent laps in Q2. I am still optimistic that we can race for points, but it remains to be seen how the DRS will impact on overtaking, which has never been easy at Monza. We will think long and hard about the strategy this evening and look forward to an exciting race tomorrow."
Sergio Perez (15th, 1:24.845): "Of course we cannot be happy with our qualifying result, but also I think this is pretty much all we could do today. My fastest lap was a good one, so there is nothing to complain about. Now we have to cope with what we've got. I trust our race pace will once again be better than our qualifying performance, and for sure I still want to score points at my first Formula One Grand Prix in Monza."
Kamui Kobayashi (17th, 1:25.065): "I slightly flat spotted a tire in Q2, but even without that happening I don't believe I could have qualified in a significantly better position. We have been quite far away from Q3 today. However, we knew the Monza high speed circuit would be a tough one for us, and in the end it is tomorrow's race what counts. Of course it will be very difficult to get into the points from where I will be starting, but chances can still open up, so we will see."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "I always like going to Monza, although this time we knew that this high speed track would be difficult for us. Nevertheless, I expected more today. If we don't want to lose contact with Force India we have to act quickly."
James Key, Technical Director: "It was obviously a disappointing qualifying. The balance of the cars was okay, and we were able to complete the program without any problems, but the lap times just didn't come. On this track the competition is farther away than we were expecting them to be. The race will be difficult from this position, but our race performance should normally be a little bit closer to the opposition, and we will try to maximize our chances with the right strategy."
Sebastien Buemi (16th, 1:24.932): "I am satisfied with what I managed to do this afternoon, because getting into Q2 is not bad, given how little track time I got yesterday and my lap was okay. I was reasonably happy with my lap, but of course, it's a bit hard to take after our much better qualifying in Spa a fortnight ago. We brought many new parts to try here and, in the end, especially because of my accident yesterday, we did not really have time to evaluate everything properly. Recent races have been very open and uncertain, so anything could happen tomorrow. We will just have to try our best and see where we are after 53 laps."
Jaime Alguersuari (18th, 1:25.334): "Even if the result is not so good, I can be pleased with the fact that we have at least managed to improve the car since the start of practice, but my lap was simply not quick enough to move up to the next session. The pace was not there. Sebastien did a really good lap, so well done to him for getting into Q2. I have scored points before from starting eighteenth on the grid, so let's see what happens tomorrow."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "We did a lot of work in the last weeks aimed specifically at this race: we worked on engine, brakes, aero, front and rear wings and we had many options when we came here. However, we did not start with a good set-up on Friday morning and since then we have been struggling. We therefore did not do a fantastic job, because although we can see the potential is there, we have been unable to unlock it. We will work to understand it, but we will have to wait a year to apply what we learn, as there is no other circuit on the calendar like Monza! Ferrari did a good job in giving us an exhaust solution that should have seen us move forward but we were unable to harness it. We brought two options for the front wing, because when we first conceived our Monza wing, we did not know we would have a new exhaust package and therefore we have had something of a messy time of it. Seb's accident did not help, but I cannot blame him for our difficulties. Can we go better in race trim? As the saying goes, "les jeux sont faits."
Jarno Trulli (19th, 1:26.647): "I'm really happy with the job the team has done today and I think I got the most I could out of the car, particularly on the second run. There's only really one line here in Monza - it's not a particularly technical circuit but you need to be extremely precise and with the power steering system we had in Hungary back on the car I'm able to feel my way around the whole lap, which gives me the chance to put in laps like I did to get into the 1.26s. The car has definitely improved since yesterday - we found the balance we were struggling for in FP1 and FP2 and I think that puts us in a good place for the race tomorrow."
Heikki Kovalainen (20th, 1:27.184): "The car felt good today but I struggled a bit to get the ultimate lap time out of it this afternoon. I don't really know why so I'll have a look at the data with the engineers and see where we could find some time, but the good thing is that we have definitely improved since yesterday which shows we keep on going in a positive direction all the time. Even after that I think we didn't qualify too badly and are in a reasonable position to fight tomorrow. Jarno is strong here and it will be a good battle with him tomorrow. The important thing is to keep the gap to the guys behind us and look ahead, not behind. I think we'll be ok."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "Firstly I am thrilled to be back on track after a few races away - nothing beats F1 and I am very pleased with the performance today. Last night I was a little nervous after a slightly disappointing Friday, but we had a good conversation with the whole team and I think we did very well today. This is the type of track where KERS plays an important role and without that this year we are always going to struggle, but to have kept a respectable gap to some of the teams ahead is quite pleasing. I noticed some of what Eddie Jordan said on the BBC this afternoon and I take that sort of comment as a positive - he is not alone in wanting to see us keep moving further up but Rome was not built in a day and our plan has always been worked out over the long-term. We cannot rush this and we always knew that securing tenth place in the first two seasons would give us the platform to build for a secure future, so we are on target to achieve that. Over the next few weeks we will unveil some more of the plans for next season and beyond, and having seen the development plan for next year's car I am confident the foundations we have laid will help us reach where we want to be. Hopefully in years to come people with the experience of Eddie will be proud of what we have achieved, and we will take his comments as a positive force for us to keep pushing on."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "After yesterday I think that was a pretty good qualifying session. We finally found the performance we knew was in the car and with both drivers happy with the balance we can be pleased with the job we did overnight and this morning. Jarno in particular was much more happy with his car and he could have found a few more tenths on his quickest lap but for the traffic that held him up in the final sector. Heikki was not quite as happy with the balance of his car, but he also put in a good performance, as did the whole team, to get the best out of what we have today and now we look forward to a strong race and a solid two car finish tomorrow."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "It has been quite a good day for us. Overnight we quite substantially changed the setups on the cars which gave us a fair amount of work to do in FP3, but it looks like that has paid off as the feedback from both drivers has been much more positive today. Jarno was particularly strong on his home track in qualifying, and I think he and Heikki will both be in a good position to fight tomorrow."
Daniel Ricciardo (23rd, 1:28.054): "It feels really nice not being on the back of the grid and finishing ahead of Tonio, which is a small target I had set myself, so I'm happy to have achieved that. But I don't want to stop there, I want to do it constantly and progress in one way or another. It's been a tough weekend having suffered some mechanical problems in yesterday's practice sessions, so we didn't get to run as much as we would have liked today. I was aware that I had to give everything I could in this qualifying session and it's really satisfying to have done a good job. Now we have to wait and see how tomorrow goes but I think we should have a good set-up because we didn't go completely aggressive in qualifying."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (24th, 1:28.231): "If you take everything into account then, overall, it was a good qualifying session because the car was behaving well. But the thing about Monza is that slipstream is very important in order to set a good time and I wasn't in the right place at the right place, so I wasn't able to make the most of this. So, at the end of the day, I'm on the back of the grid. But the car is behaving well for the race so I'm positive that tomorrow we can have a good race."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "Considering that we lost so much valuable running time with our problems yesterday, and that we were thus obliged to use most of free practice this morning to investigate another technical problem, I'm satisfied with what we achieved this afternoon. In qualifying, both drivers were early out as the green light was on. It can be an interesting race for us and I am looking forward to the race tomorrow and a two car finish".
Timo Glock (21st, 1:27.591): "A disappointing qualifying. We had a problem with the rear wing - it just stayed open and didn't close again. Then after a certain speed it just closed on its own. We have never had a problem with it before and didn't have anything wrong yesterday, so we have to look at this and resolve it because it's not very comfortable to experience that. It was very difficult and frustrating because we were very close to Kovalainen today and close 'enough' I think. With the wing working properly, who knows?"
Jerome d'Ambrosio (22nd, 1:27.609): "Today's wasn't a bad qualifying and I'm generally very happy with it. I think it was difficult to try and get a tow as there was quite a lot of traffic and that made it even harder. But I felt very comfortable again in the car and in general I'm very satisfied. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's race - it looks like it's going to be a very close one."
John Booth, Team Principal: "Jerome's car crew had quite a busy evening, fitting the upgrade package to his car. Overall this went very well and it was interesting to hear Jerome's comments in FP3. The numbers yesterday seemed to show a healthy advantage and Jerome's comments this morning seemed fairly positive. Both cars stepped through more set-up work this morning. Timo experimenting with wing levels and Jerome establishing a good balance on the new package. Unfortunately, we had an issue on Timo's soft tire run with the DRS system not deactivating correctly, which cost him significant time as he effectively ran with no DRS. We spent quite a bit of time over lunch going through his rear wing in detail and found some issues which we corrected and everything seemed fine in the garage before qualifying. As is often the case with these fairly complicated systems, there can be more than one fault and during qualifying Timo again experienced the issue. We clearly have to get to the bottom of the issue before the race. In terms of our competitiveness, the field seems to have closed up and the gap to the guys in front does seem less. However, as always we will treat this with some caution until we get back to a more representative circuit. Given the smaller gaps in the field and hopefully with Timo's issue fixed, both drivers can look forward to what should be a more interesting race tomorrow."
||Paul di Resta
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