Fernando Alonso gave the tifosi
the result it wanted in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, heading up a Ferrari 1-3 as title rival Red Bull Racing missed the front row for the first time all season.
Alonso led throughout the third and final phase of knock-out qualifying, with McLaren and Red Bull unable to do anything about his 1min 21.962secs lap, the best posted by anyone all weekend. The Spaniard even felt comfortable enough to abort his final effort, pulling back into the pits even as the other contenders remained on track. It proved to be a good decision, for no-one could get within a tenth of his time.
World champion Jenson Button, following a different strategy to McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton by running higher downforce and the F-duct, eventually came closest, posting a 1min 22.084secs lap that not only secured a front row start, but also put him ahead of the three drivers that he is chasing in the title fight.
Felipe Massa claimed third for the home team, setting both Ferraris up on the cleaner side of the grid, while Hamilton will also feel content with an odd-numbered spot, despite being pipped for fourth by Red Bull's Mark Webber in the closing moments. The Australian is half a second off pole, with Hamilton a similar margin behind his team-mate, but still ahead of RBR's Sebastian Vettel.
Nico Rosberg, who failed to set an early lap, heads Nico Hulkenberg on row four, with Robert Kubica and Rubens Barrichello rounding out the top ten.
Full report and result to follow.....