Sebastian Vettel claimed his 40th career pole position in qualifying for at the Italian Grand Prix, taking advantage of Lewis Hamilton's absence and the apparent failure of Ferrari's drafting tactics.
In truth, it was unlikely that Red Bull would be threatened in the battle for pole but, when Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso failed to run suitably close in tandem, the German's sole opposition came from RBR team-mate Mark Webber. However, when the Australian received a faceful of dust from Jean-Eric Vergne's off at the Parabolica, the fractions of a second slipped away, leaving him a couple of tenths shy of top spot.
Ferrari only claimed half of row two, as well, with Massa finding himself out-paced by one of the candidates for his drive next season. Having failed to breach the top ten more often than not this season, Nico Hulkenberg catapulted himself into third spot, leaving the Ferraris to line up fourth and fifth – after what is likely to be a heated deconstruction of the final session.
Nico Rosberg salvaged something for Mercedes in sixth spot, while Daniel Ricciardo paid for an error by dropping to seventh in the final order. Sergio Perez edged McLaren team-mate Jenson Button by less than a tenth for eighth, leaving the Briton to fill the inside of row five, alongside Vergne.
Full qualifying report