Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel has admitted he was 'surprised' to take pole today for the F1 2011 Italian Grand Prix, especially given he was almost half a second up on his closest rival.
Vettel once again laid down the gauntlet and having been quickest in final practice this morning, was again right at the front in qualifying. Indeed he set the second best time in Q1, before going fastest in Q2 and crucially, fastest again in the top-ten shoot-out, when, on his very final lap, he posted the best time of the weekend, a 1 minute 22.275 seconds.
”We are surprised how competitive we are here and thought it would be much closer,” Vettel said. “We weren't sure if the tyres were best for the first or second lap, but I made a bit of a mistake on the second. For the second run, I knew I had a bit more time in the car as I did the first lap on my own. For the second, I had one or two cars in front, which always helps here.
“That said, we would never have thought we could have got pole here, on this track which didn't suit our car for the last two years. This year, the car is very good and I'm very happy. Apart from the wing level, the most important thing to have here is balance and we're good on that this year.
“I felt very comfortable going into qualifying and throughout the session I could feel the track getting quicker. I simply went with the track and that is the secret, if there is any.”
Team-mate Mark Webber meanwhile opted for only one run in Q3 and finished up fifth on a 1m 22.972s. The Aussie conceded that was probably not the best way to go, although he also had a few KERS issues too.
“I think I made it a little bit difficult for the team today in terms of my run plan, I wasn't completely clear, so it wasn't the best Q3,” he explained. “The tyres were certainly strong enough for the first lap, so two runs was the way forward I think, but ultimately I didn't get enough out of the car on the tyres on one run only.
“We were managing the KERS too, as we had some issues on the last lap, which is never ideal but in the end we got fifth position. We know it can be an interesting first lap here, so I'm going to push as hard as I can. I have a good car for the race; so we'll see how we go.”
“To achieve pole position in Monza is unbelievable and completely unexpected,” added team principal, Christian Horner. “It was a phenomenal last lap from Sebastian to achieve pole with an almost staggering margin.
“Mark elected to adopt a different strategy for Q3 and maybe, with 20/20 hindsight, two runs would have been preferable. However, he retains a new set of tyres for the race tomorrow and we hope to have a very good race day.
“It's testimony to all the hard work that's gone into this Monza package at a track that's been notoriously tough for us and it's a perfect start to the weekend,” Horner summed-up.