Lewis Hamilton used the powerful Mercedes engine in his McLaren to win the pole for the Italian GP, 0.123s clear of teammate Jenson Button.
Felipe Massa was third for Ferrari followed by another Mercedes powered car of Paul di Resta.
However, di Resta has been hit with a five-place grid penalty after Force India were forced to change his gearbox ahead of qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.
The FIA regulations state that a gearbox must now last five consecutive races – provided the driver finishes each event.
The Mercedes engine has looked strong at Monza this weekend, and the British driver was hopeful of another points finish, after taking 10th place at the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend.
Fernando Alonso, who was fastest in Q1 and Q2 had some sort of mechanical problem and was a disappointing 10th quick in Q3 for Ferrari.
Recently the runaway championship leader, Alonso is now firmly on the back foot after yet another problem at Monza.
Before the now-banned Romain Grosjean destroyed his race at Spa, Spaniard Alonso's lead in the drivers' championship was a substantial 40 points.
That crash makes it 24 now, and then the glitches started rolling in front of Ferrari's famous Tifosi on Friday.
In Monza practice, Alonso had gearbox, brake and gearbox problems, and then all was going well in qualifying as he and teammate Felipe Massa gave each other 'tows' on the Autodromo's long straights.
Then it all went wrong again. While Brazilian Massa staked his claim on a new contract by qualifying third, Alonso was far adrift in 'Q3', and just P10 for Sunday.
"I think he (Alonso) had a problem," Massa said.
|Alonso says he would have won the pole easily|
Alonso confirmed that "something broke" on his F2012, and team boss Stefano Domenicali said he thinks it was a rear roll-bar.
So as predicted by Alonso on Friday, McLaren dominated qualifying, with Lewis Hamilton on pole ahead of his teammate Jenson Button.
The Spaniard, Alonso, was quoted by AS newspaper: "As we said in Belgium, if we can not win then the best news is that McLaren is strongest.
"One (Hamilton) is 47 points behind, the other (Button) 63, so we can afford for them to win a few times without too much worry."
Alonso's closest points challenger, Sebastian Vettel, qualified fifth at Monza.
"It's a shame because it was the easiest pole position for us. We did a [one minute] 24.1 in Q2 with an easy lap and looking at it they [McLaren] did 24.0 in Q3.
"It was easy for us to do that and we lost one big opportunity, but nothing we can do now. We try to be strong tomorrow, the car will be fixed, so we will see what we can do from 10th."
Sebastian Vettel (6th, 1:24.802):"I'm pretty happy with the result; my last lap should have been a bit quicker, but whether it would have made a difference or not is hard to say. If you look from us to the front, the gaps are too big. All weekend we were not quick enough, so P6 is a very good place to be. Let's see what we can do in the race, I think the pace tomorrow should be better."
Mark Webber (11th, 1:24.809):"It's pretty much what we expected today. Seb and I were on the bubble there; it was very close between us – there's only a tenth here and there and I'm out. No massive surprises. I'm eleventh, so we can have a bit of a choice on what we can do tonight, but I'd rather be further up the grid. We've got a bit of a slog tomorrow; but it's Monza so never say never."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director:"It was a difficult qualifying for us today; we knew going in to this session that it was going to be tough. We made it through Q1 without any pressure after Hulkenberg stopped early on. Unfortunately Mark missed the cut at the end of Q2 by the smallest of margins. Sebastian delivered a very good lap in Q3, to line up in sixth, which will become fifth for the starting grid tomorrow (due to Di Resta's penalty). Hopefully our race pace will be stronger than we've shown today and we can take the fight to the cars ahead of us. It's a fairly unique track."
Cyril Dumont, Renault:"Again this weekend we would like to be a bit further ahead on the grid but we haven't succeeded to do that. I would like to apologize to Sebastian, as we had an issue in FP3 during his last run. We had an alternator failure, which meant he wasn't able to do a run on the option tires. We have to investigate exactly where the issue is coming from, as this was a later spec of alternator compared to when we had this issue in Valencia. We have to analyze all the data to understand. Looking at our pace in FP2, it's encouraging for the race tomorrow."
Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:24.010):“This is a fabulous day for the whole team – they’ve done a fantastic job to get our car into this position, so I want to say a huge thanks to them. The whole Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team deserves this result. It’s going to be a fast, tough race tomorrow. Jenson and the Ferraris are very quick, but we’ve got a good car and a good set-up, and we’re in the best possible position to score maximum points tomorrow. This is a beautiful track; it’s so fast that you really need to respect it. Monza has such great history too, and, at some stage, I’d love to become part of that history. For the moment, though, I’m just looking for a strong, consistent race tomorrow, because I need to score some good points. Finally, I just want to pass on my best wishes and congratulations to my friend Alex Zanardi. Alex is not only one of the most courageous men I know, but he’s also one of the nicest, and his gold medal successes at the Paralympics over the past few days have been incredibly inspiring."
Jenson Button (2nd, 1:24.133):“It’s been a really good day for us. Congratulations to Lewis and the whole team – they’ve done a fabulous job to get us in this position and we’ve got to build on that tomorrow. Happily, we’re in the best position possible: the past few races have really shown the strength of our car. We didn’t consider trying to tow each other around as some of the others did – it’s a difficult thing to get right and if you get it wrong you end up being compromised elsewhere around the lap. I don’t think tomorrow’s race will be all about the start – you want to get a good run into Turn One, admittedly, but if you try to plan something too ambitious, it often doesn’t work. There haven’t been any first-corner incidents at the front of the grid for the last couple of years here, so Lewis and I will just be focusing on getting our two cars out of the first corner in front of all the others."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal:“I’m extremely proud of the entire Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, all of whose members have worked incredibly hard to develop our car so well over the year. Today’s front-row lock-out is an appropriate reward for all their efforts. In fact, I’m told that we now hold the record for the highest number of front-row lock-outs in Formula 1 history, which is quite an achievement. So I want to say a big ‘well done’ not only to the men and women who have worked so hard to make our car quick here today, but also to the men and women who have worked equally hard, going back through 46 long years, ever since McLaren first entered a world championship grand prix in 1966. But tomorrow is what counts, and I’m glad to say that we got quite a lot of race prep work done yesterday, so we’re hoping to be in pretty good shape for the race. Returning to today, though, both Lewis and Jenson drove immaculately, capitalizing on our car’s impressive pace in sectors one and two, and optimizing its capabilities also in sector three, where it was slightly less competitive relative to our opposition. Doing that may have looked easy for them, but it wasn’t. In fact they both had to keep their nerve towards the end of their fastest laps. Well done, boys. Tomorrow’s race will be fast and hard, too. Bring it on!"
Felipe Massa (3rd, 1:24.247):“I am very happy with this qualifying, the best in a long time for me. This is a very important race for Ferrari and I will do my best to get a good result. I feel sorry for Fernando, as he had been very strong all weekend: we both have a good car and I’m sure that tomorrow we will be able to bring home a good points haul for the championship. We have a chance of beating McLaren, even if they are very strong. For me, getting back on the podium, here in front of our fans, would be wonderful! It’s my second home race and racing here is always a fantastic feeling. We tried to make as much use as possible of the slipstream, which requires a lot of concentration, but it’s true that in the end, I got my best time when I had no one in front of me."
Fernando Alonso (10th, 1:25.678):“I think I could have got pole today, but instead I find myself tenth. A real shame, because the car was very strong, but these things happen. It’s maybe fifteen years that something like this has happened, but it has and there’s no point in crying over it. The problem will be fixed for tomorrow, but of course this result changes everything as far as the race is concerned: we had the chance to increase our lead over our closest rivals, but now, it’s likely that at least some of them will make up ground on me. I don’t think the failures we’ve had over the past couple of days can be linked to a speeding up of the development on the car, because they have not involved components on which we are pushing to extremes. Tomorrow, we will try and pick up as many points as possible, maybe getting ahead of some of my direct competitors. We have to accept that problems like these can occur even if, when it does happen, the first reaction is disappointment. Having said that, it’s a case of better Saturday than Sunday, because then, you have no chance of remedying the situation! Risks starting in the middle of the pack? Given how the points table looks, it’s more a case of the others having to worry about coming away with another no score…"
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal:“What happened to Fernando this afternoon is a real shame, because today we could have gifted pole position to the fantastic Monza crowd. Felipe drove a great qualifying and we are very happy that he is finally back fighting for the top places on Saturday too. All the signs were there for a nice afternoon, but if you don’t have 100% reliability, then you pay a high price and today that was confirmed yet again. First of all, we need to understand what happened to the back end of Fernando’s car, but above all, we must immediately put behind us the disappointment we are feeling right now and prepare as well as possible for a race that looks like being very tough, from every perspective. 53 laps of Monza is a lot and everything can still happen. I remain convinced that we can still bring home a strong result in terms of the two championships, but clearly, if everything had gone smoothly today, we would have a much stronger chance."
Pat Fry:“We are very disappointed with what happened to Fernando’s car this afternoon. A problem with the rear anti-roll bar was spotted at the start of Q3 and cost the Spaniard dear, as he never really managed to put together a proper timed lap. A shame, because Felipe’s third place, a few tenths off pole, showed that we had all the potential to aspire to a great result in front of our home crowd: the Brazilian drove an excellent qualifying and deserves this result. We need to look into exactly what happened, but clearly, problems like these cannot occur if one wants to fight for the targets we have set ourselves. Fernando will face an uphill battle tomorrow, while Felipe will be able to exploit his grid position to go on the attack. Tire performance will, as usual, be very important, especially as at this track the best strategy seems pretty clear. Obviously the priority is reliability and this weekend, we have already paid a high price on that front and we cannot afford to have further problems."
Michael Schumacher (5th, 1:24.540):"I think we can be satisfied with our qualifying performance as we have performed consistently all weekend. Our car clearly suits this circuit more than at the last races, but we've had a couple of hiccups along the way in practice. Our guys back at the factory and here at the track did a good job to sort out the problems and compliments to them. Solid points should be a realistic target for tomorrow. The fact that I will start from fourth is another small positive point, because here the even numbers on the grid are probably the better start positions."
Nico Rosberg (7th, 1:24.833):"Starting from sixth place here in Monza is a decent result from a tricky qualifying session today. I wasn't happy with the balance of my car by Q3 and, although it started well, I then lost the right balance so I couldn't improve my time. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow and I hope we can gain some positions."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal:"It was a pretty solid qualifying session for the team this afternoon. The key to the session was using the tires in the correct way and getting them at their best for the timed laps. We could perhaps have squeezed a little more out of our package today in terms of pure performance, but our positions are close to our maximum at this circuit. Yesterday's race preparation was, for the first time in a number of races, untroubled by poor weather so we were able to achieve a lot of good work on various fuel loads. Now, we will see how that translates into tomorrow's race."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director:"Fifth for Michael and seventh for Nico are better qualifying results than we had in the last two races and this should be a decent basis for the race tomorrow. Five Mercedes-powered cars in the top seven places of the qualifying ranking is a good result for our engine today."
Kimi Raikkonen (8th, 1:24.855):
Jerome d'Ambrosio (16th, 1:25.408):
Eric Boullier, Team Principal:
James Allison, Technical Director:
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer:
Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader:
Paul di Resta (4th, 1:24.304):Paul: “The car has been working well all weekend so I knew we were in good shape going into qualifying. We were in the top five of free practice and the car has got better and better with each run as the track evolved. I’m very happy with my Q3 lap, which was my quickest lap so far – so we maximized it when it mattered. I think the entire team has done an excellent job to get us in this position – we’ve trusted our instincts and just worked away at dialing the car into the track. I knew I was going to have a grid penalty for the gearbox change, which is frustrating, but at least I will start inside the top ten. The challenge now is to make sure we have the race pace and use the strategy to come away with points."
Nico Hulkenberg (24th, No Time):“A very short and disappointing session for me. I was about to start my first timed lap in Q1 when I suddenly lost drive. I pulled over at the first chicane and the team told me to switch off the car. It’s a shame this happened on a day when the car looks so competitive, but that’s racing. Starting so far back tomorrow will be tough, but I will try and push through so that we can hopefully come away with something from the race."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal:“We had a very competitive car today and Paul delivered an excellent performance to set the fourth fastest time in Q3 – it was his quickest lap of the weekend and his best ever qualifying performance. It’s just unfortunate that he will take a five-place penalty for the gearbox change. Even so, he will be in the mix tomorrow and will be strong in the race. The big disappointment of the session was the technical fault on Nico’s car, which we believe to be related to fuel pressure. Without this issue I’m confident we would have had both cars well inside the top ten. The task now is to come away from here with points to strengthen our position in the championship."
Kamui Kobayashi (9th, 1:25.109):“Well we don’t have the same pace here as we did last week in Spa, which made it a tough qualifying. Having said this, I am happy to have reached the first target which was to get through to Q3. Friday was pretty difficult because a mechanical problem prevented me from doing the mileage I would have wanted, and this is also why I cannot really make any predictions on how the race will go. I lack the experience of proper long runs. After the third free practice session this morning we changed the car’s settings quite a lot and this paid off in qualifying, I got confidence in the car back. My lap time in Q2 was really good – half a second quicker than in Q3 – and to me this was the maximum possible. However, it was a shame I didn’t manage to improve on my second lap during the final attempt. I want to get a strong race result tomorrow."
Sergio Perez (13th, 1:24.901):“We knew it would be tight to make it into the top ten today, but I was fighting hard. We have improved the car quite a lot since Friday, but we are clearly not as quick here as we were in Belgium. On my last attempt in Q2 unfortunately I was driving too close behind Bruno Senna and could not improve my lap time. I lost two tenths of a second in the first sector. I didn’t want to back off to make a bigger gap because I didn’t want to compromise the warm up of my tires. The tire compounds here are quite similar and we don’t expect high degradation, but in the end, given the high temperatures, you never really know. I am very optimistic about scoring good points here in tomorrow’s race.“
Monisha Kaltenborn, CEO:“We are quite happy with the qualifying result, because we knew the Monza track characteristics would be challenging for our car. However, we are in a good starting position and are looking forward to a strong race."
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering:“In the morning we had to make up some ground which we lost yesterday. We found some good directions for the car. In qualifying we made it quite easily through Q1,and then it was really down to the drivers. Our performance was very close to some other competitors, so it was really a matter of fractions to be in or out of the top ten and so be further up or back down the grid. I’m confident we can have a good race from these positions."
Daniel Ricciardo (15th, 1:25.312):"This was a so-so qualifying. When you are fifteenth, you always think you could do a bit better. However, realistically, I don't think we could have got to Q3 today, so we have to settle for this as Senna is around three tenths in front and even putting my best sector times together, I don't believe it would have been good enough to match that. It's some consolation not being right at the back of the Q2 section and now there's the race to look forward to. It's not been a bad day and with the set-up we have chosen I think we could be in a strong position to overtake other cars tomorrow. With a good race pace and two DRS zones, it should make for an interesting afternoon. The first corner here is always a bit of a lottery and from this part of the grid I might be able to profit from any delays to those at the front."
Jean-Eric Vergne (17th, 1:25.441):"Honestly, I have not felt comfortable in the car most of the weekend as we never really found the best set-up. Actually, qualifying was the best of all the sessions so far. On top of that, I am to blame for a small mistake on my quick lap which cost me about two tenths, after I went over a bump just as I was changing gear. On the plus side, we have made a good step forward with the car since yesterday, which maybe does not show in the times as they are all so close."
Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer:"After analyzing all the data last night and making changes to the car, in absolute terms, we made a step forward today. On Friday we were not happy with car balance and made progress in that area, so that both Daniel and Jev were a bit happier with the car today. Although the performance did improve, it was not enough to get further up the order than fifteenth place, in what was a very evenly matched session. We did our homework regarding race preparation on Friday, so hopefully we can pick up a bit more pace tomorrow and combined with the fact the STR7 seems to show good top speed, that should allow us to enjoy some good battle out on track."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director:
Pastor Maldonado (12th, 1:24.820):"It wasn't the best day for our car today as we were struggling a bit for pace and then in the last Q2 lap I didn't quite put everything together. Everything is so close here though and it will be a tough race, but we've done a fair amount of testing on higher fuel so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do."
Bruno Senna (14th, 1:25.042):"I think we are more competitive on the harder compound tire because for some reason we didn't seem to pick up a lot of grip on the medium tires, so we need to look into that further. We have the race pace and the track does allow for some overtaking so I think we could both have a chance of scoring points. It's very tight here at Monza but it's a long race. I'm looking forward to racing around this brilliant track."
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer:"After a decent third practice this morning we were hopeful of a reasonable qualifying session, but unfortunately we didn't quite have the pace to make it through into Q3, with Pastor and Bruno finishing in 12th and 14th respectively. Conditions tomorrow should be similar to today’s and we need to attack hard in the race with our aim still to get the cars home in the points."
Heikki Kovalainen (18th, 1:26.382):
Vitaly Petrov (19th, 1:26.887):
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal:
Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer:
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director:
Thierry Salvi, Renault:
Narain Karthikeyan (22nd, 1:27.441):"In all honesty today's qualifying session was average but the best thing was that the car performed better than in the morning. We improved our times but didn't manage to complete the perfect lap which is required at this circuit. We lacked a bit of maximum speed with the second set of tires and I looked for some slipstream but it didn't work out and I wasn't able to put all three sectors together. That's how racing goes, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. Now we need to find the best strategy to gain some positions in tomorrow's race, but I'm confident because the car has a good pace and is consistent so, even though it's not easy to overtake, we will try until the end."
Pedro de la Rosa (23rd, 1:27.629):"We've had very good sensations since yesterday and the car performed even better today with the set-up changes we made. The performance was better with the first set of tires, as we faced some problems with the second set, but I'm happy with the result we achieved. We need to continue with this good standard tomorrow and try to beat our main rivals in the race."
Toni Cuquerella, Technical Director: "Monza is a low downforce circuit where we expected to have a good pace that would enable us to close the gap to the front. And that was the case. In the morning we worked on adjusting the set-up and in qualifying we opted for a level of downforce and gear ratios looking ahead to tomorrow's race. Both Narain and Pedro performed well although neither improved their time with their second set of tires. Monza is a circuit where the smallest of errors is very costly because the straights are very long. The data we have on the tires makes us think that the most common strategy will be one-stop as it's not a very demanding circuit for the tires."
Timo Glock (20th, 1:27.039):"In the morning we struggled a bit more than yesterday. The car balance was a little bit out and not the same as yesterday, but we tried some new stuff for qualifying and I was happy with the changes. In the first run I got a good tow because our downforce package is pretty efficient, but if you get a tow you gain quite a lot of top speed as well. On the second run, straight away I felt that the tires were completely different in terms of traction and I wasn't able to get a tow. We were quite close to Petrov, so there is good reason to be positive, but the second set of tires is normally quicker and the track is faster, so on that side it's a little frustrating. We need to analyze the data now and see what the problem is, so we can get the best out of the car tomorrow."
Charles Pic (21st, 1:27.073):"I think it was a good qualifying for me. I had some traffic on the first set of tires, but things went better for me on the second set. We had to make a small change this morning which has perhaps cost us a little bit, but generally I'm happy with today and I think there is more to come tomorrow. We are closer to the cars ahead again, so another step – this time in qualifying, not just the race."
John Booth, Team Principal:"Today has provided another positive step towards tomorrow's race and this has seen us closing in on our objective of taking the fight to our immediate competitors in qualifying as well as in the race; we're closer again. Both drivers did a good job but they didn't have a straightforward time of it. Timo experienced problems with his second set of tires and with Charles we have had to make a set-up change specifically to help the overall race performance. Nonetheless we're encouraged that things have gone better for us so far and that our usual trend of faring better in the race comes to fruition again tomorrow."
|4.||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1m24.304s||+0.294s*|
|6.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1m24.802s||+0.792s|
|11.||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1m24.809s||+0.567s|
|15.||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1m25.312s||+1.070s|
|17.||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1m25.441s||+1.199s|
|23.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1m27.629s||+3.454s|
|24.||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||No Time||No Time|
* 5-place grid penalty
** 10-place grid penalty