Force India's Adrian Sutil put in a superb performance to put his Mercedes-powered VJM02 on the front row of the grid today in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix and while he was beaten to pole by Lewis Hamilton, he has pledged to fight hard on Sunday.

Sutil has been on the pace all weekend, and as well as setting the best time on Friday, he was also quickest this morning in final practice.

He then followed that up with a solid Q1 performance, securing the seventh fastest time, before making just two runs in Q2 and finishing fourth best to ease into the top-ten shoot-out for only the second time this year.

Sutil then opted for three laps in Q3, setting his quickest time on his final tour to secure a career-best second position, after he was just edged out by former F3 team-mate, Lewis Hamilton.

"After the results yesterday and this morning, we wanted to fight for the pole position. We knew the car was up to it and that's what we showed in qualifying today," said Sutil. "We have a great package, this circuit suits us very well as we have an incredible top speed and also a good downforce package so the efficiency of the car is really good.

"I'm starting on the front row with Lewis for the first time since F3 and I'm really happy he is next to me, he's a good friend but we will fight hard for it. I have a lot of respect for him.

"It's going to be very difficult start with the KERS cars around me but the race is long, I'll do what I have to defend my position and have a good strategy. If the race pace is OK we can gain positions and even if they get past me I have a good, fast car on the straights so it's going to be tight."

Vitantonio Liuzzi meanwhile, who is racing the VJM02 for the first time this weekend, will start from an impressive seventh position.

"Two weeks ago I didn't expect to be on the grid so this is a fantastic result - better than we expected," Liuzzi added. "The team made a great effort and gave me a lot of support to reach this target. They never gave up and we had a great Friday and Saturday.

"The race will be difficult physically and mentally but I like the fight, the team are fighters and we will give the maximum in tomorrow's race. I'm definitely looking forward to racing in front of my home crowd."

Team boss, Dr Vijay Mallya, was over-the-moon with how qualifying went: "I'm absolutely delighted with this weekend's performance so far. We've been very strong all weekend and both drivers have been outstanding.

"Adrian has really showed a great maturity to achieve his best-ever starting position, while Tonio has been a revelation on his debut. Although qualifying is just one part of the equation we are feeling quite upbeat about tomorrow's race now," he summed-up.

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