Britain's Lewis Hamilton was delighted after taking pole position today for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Monza and admitted that McLaren didn't expect to be this quick before the weekend.

Following on from his strong showing yesterday in practice, when he was second quickest on the combined leaderboard, Hamilton began proceedings by making some minor adjustments to his car and finishing third practice this morning fifth fastest.

He then went into qualifying in a confident mood and was always on the pace, finishing the first two sessions in second spot before opting for two runs in the top-ten shoot-out.

On his final run, the 2008 World champion used the initial lap to prime his KERS before nailing his final lap when it mattered the most - setting fastest times in all three sectors and securing pole by two tenths from his former F3 EuroSeries team-mate Adrian Sutil.

"It was a very close session," Hamilton reflected. "The car felt very good, and I was able to really put the lap together. I had a single shot at pole - and that's the most exhilarating and exciting feeling you can have as a racing driver.

"We didn't anticipate being this quick before the weekend, but I'm now in the best position to make the most of the start and to get out of the first corner cleanly. It's fantastic to have Adrian starting alongside me tomorrow and we both want a clean start and to enjoy the grand prix."

Heikki Kovalainen meanwhile also went well in the sister car and he will start from the second row of the grid in fourth, his best time in Q3 a 1m 23.803s.

Team boss, Martin Whitmarsh was impressed by his two pilots: "It may be an F1 clich?, but it's true nonetheless: our whole team did a fantastic job today - Vodafone, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, everyone. Both our drivers drove excellent laps, aggressive yet controlled, and both of them have good strategies for tomorrow," he added.

"However while we are pleased with our overall qualifying performance, the reality is that anything can happen on race day and we never under-estimate our opposition. Nevertheless, we look forward to a great Italian Grand Prix at this majestic circuit, and we confidently expect to be able to play a highly competitive part in it."