Fernando Alonso gave the tifosi
the result it wanted in qualifying for the F1 2010 Italian Grand Prix today, 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 1 minute 21.962 second 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.
Ferrari dominated qualifying, with Felipe Massa setting the pace in Q1 and Alonso topping the times in Q2, before the all-important shoot-out for pole, where the tifosi
were not left disappointed.
F1 2009 world champion Jenson Button meanwhile, following a different strategy to McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton by running higher downforce and the F-duct, eventually came closest to challenging Alonso, posting a 1m 22.084s 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 reasonably 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.
Mercedes man Nico Rosberg, who failed to set an early lap, heads Nico Hulkenberg on row four, with Renault's Robert Kubica and Williams' Rubens Barrichello rounding out the top ten.
Adrian Sutil and Michael Schumacher were the 'big names' to go out in Q2, both failing to muster enough pace to bump their way up into the top ten.
Which was the bigger surprise begs debate, but Sutil and Force India were tipped to come close to repeating his front row spot from a year ago. The German youngster was locked into a tit-for-tat battle with veteran Barrichello, with each knocking the other out of tenth place. However, when it came to the crunch, Sutil was found wanting, missing out by 0.057secs after his final lap failed to produce the hoped-for improvement.
Schumacher, in contrast, was always on the margin, having missed the same cut in four of the past five races, and, having posted sector one times right on the pace of the frontrunners, fell away in the second and third to remain in twelfth spot.
Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa also missed out, taking 13th and 17th positions, sandwiching Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, with Renault's Vitaly Petrov - still under threat of penalty for blocking Timo Glock in Q1 - sitting in 15th.
Vitantonio Liuzzi was the big casualty in Q1. He had already suffered problems in final practice, but Force India was unable to trace the cause, leaving him to trust his luck in the opening 20-minute qualifying session. Typically, therefore, the former F3000 champion struggled with a massively down on power engine, meaning he was powerless to challenge for a place among the 17 drivers to progress to Q2.
Liuzzi will start behind both Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, after the Lotus team took advantage of his plight. The Virgin's of Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi also got close to the Force India but will have to be content with 21st and 22nd ahead of HRT's Bruno Senna and Sakon Yamamoto. All may move up in the final reckoning, however, if the stewards - headed by double world champion Emerson Fittipaldi - decide to penalise Petrov for blocking Glock's first flying lap. The Russian made it through to Q2, but, as mentioned earlier, was only 15th fastest. Glock, however, has taken a penalty of his own, giving up five places after changing his gearbox.
To see the full times from qualifying for the F1 2010 Italian Grand Prix at Monza: CLICK HERE.