- Italian Grand Prix - Qualifying
Alonso storms to Monza pole
Petrov hit with five-place grid penalty
Liuzzi resolute despite car failure
Mercedes resigned to grid placings
Alonso 'surprised' to take first Ferrari pole at Monza
Hamilton rues set-up choice
Mixed emotions for Red Bull drivers after qualifying
- Italian Grand Prix
- FIA Formula One World Championship
Fernando Alonso sent the assembled hordes of Tifosi delirious by taking pole position for the Italian Grand Prix.
The Spaniard dialled in a blistering 1:21.962 right at the start of Q3 and will line up ahead of Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and Mark Webber, who had to sit out the remaining 20 minutes of final practice due to an engine failure.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will line up fifth on the grid ahead of Sebastian Vettel and both will have work to do on Sunday if they are to challenge for victory.
Unusually for a Q3 session, most drivers set their best time on their first run, with Alonso aborting his final attempt. Hamilton made a mistake at the first chicane as he followed Vettel on track and blew his chances of starting higher up. Button and Webber did improve while Vettel complained of an unexplained lack of top speed for finishing sixth.
However, with Hamilton deciding not to use the F-duct on his car this weekend, he should have a better top speed than his rivals along Monza's straights. That could prove pivotal as he attempts to take on Webber, Massa, Button and Alonso ahead of him.
Meanwhile, Button, who is running more downforce than any other car through the corners and deploying his F-duct on the straights, should be able to nurse his soft tyres longer than those around him and open up alternative strategy options.
Outside the top six, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg, Robert Kubica and Rubens Barrichello will occupy seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth on the grid. Rosberg was incredibly quick through the first sector but couldn't maintain the pace through the rest of the lap to challenge Vettel ahead of him. Hulkenberg and Barrichello made just one attempt in Q3 due to a lack of new soft tyres and the younger Williams driver proved quickest.
Force India's Adrian Sutil will start 11th, a disappointing result after the team was expected to perform well on the high-speed circuit. Worse off, however, was team-mate Tonio Liuzzi who failed to make it out of Q1 after a mechanical problem brought an end to his session after just one run.
Michael Schumacher will start 12th and was 0.3 seconds off the pace of his Mercedes team-mate Rosberg in Q2. However, after Rosberg's solid performance in Q3 that gap translated to five positions on the grid for tomorrow's race.
Vitaly Petrov qualified 15th but that position may well be reviewed after he blocked Timo Glock on the Virgin driver's first flying lap of the session. To make things worse for Glock, he is guaranteed a five-place grid penalty for changing a gearbox and will start from the back of the grid.
In stark comparison the Lotus drivers had a good session to line up 18th and 19th ahead of Liuzzi. Italian Jarno Trulli led team-mate Heikki Kovalainen.
Hamilton bolted on the soft option tyres in Q2 and immediately went comfortably fastest, a full half a second better than Button's third placed mark. But four-time Italian Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher failed to extract the maximum from his Mercedes, again missing out on Q3. He starts from 12th, five places behind team-mate Nico Rosberg.