Sebastian Vettel gave Red Bull Racing its 50th F1 pole today at Monza in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, edging out team-mate, Mark Webber by two tenths of a second.
Vettel was the favourite going into the session, after topping the times in practice on Friday and this morning. The German then maintained that momentum, and set the pace in both Q1 and Q2, before again leading the way in the top-ten shootout.
It was his fourth pole position of the season and the 40th of his career and sets him up well for Sunday's grand prix, although with rain forecast, race day could be a very different affair...
Webber meanwhile was the German's sole threat, after Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso failed to run suitably close in tandem. The Aussie was the only other man to break into the 1m 23s bracket, despite losing fractions of a second near the end of his best lap, when Jean-Eric Vergne went off at the Parabolica and kicked up the dust.
Nico Hulkenberg catapulted himself into third spot with a storming time in his Sauber, leaving many wondering just where he had found the pace, especially give more often than not he had failed to even make the top-ten this season.
Behind, Massa and Alonso had to settle for fourth and fifth, not what the Scuderia had been hoping for in front of its home fans.
Nico Rosberg salvaged sixth for Mercedes, a good effort considering hydraulic issues meant he sat out most of FP3.
Daniel Ricciardo was seventh after making an error, with the McLaren's of Sergio Perez and Jenson Button in eighth and ninth. Vergne will start alongside Button on row five after his error, a disappointing end to qualifying for Toro Rosso, especially given how well they had gone in Q1 and Q2.
Lewis Hamilton headed the list of casualties in phase two of qualifying. The Briton, who has been on pole for the past four races and a fixture in the top ten for 66 races, appeared to be thrown off kilter by a mistake exiting the Parabolica on his first run. The Mercedes driver seemed distracted as he put his left-hand wheels into the dust and, having failed to improve his time, had to abort the run for a fresh set of tyres. Expecting to still make it out of the bottom six in the session, however, Hamilton was twice blocked by Adrian Sutil – resulting in the German attracting the attention of the stewards. Hamilton wound up twelfth fastest in the session, his car undamaged by the excursion, and won't get any solace from a penalty for Sutil, as the German proved slower still, finishing the session 14th overall.
Either side of Hamilton were the Lotuses, with Kimi Raikkonen failing to improve on his final run and having to settle for eleventh, while Romain Grosjean looked ragged in the other E21 and could not better 13th.
With Paul di Resta slowest of all in Q2, questions were raised regarding the set-up adopted by Lotus and Force India, both of which may have been hedging their bets amid reports of rain on Sunday.
Pastor Maldonado was the other driver not to progress to the pole shoot-out, joining Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas on the sidelines, after the Finn failed to make it through from Q1. He will start in P15, with Bottas three spots back.
Esteban Gutierrez was the other notable casualty in Q1. The Mexican bounced in and out of the 'drop zone', but could never quite pull far enough away to avoid being caught beneath the trap door when the chequered flag fell.
Bottas and Gutierrez were joined on the sidelines by the Caterham and Marussia drivers, the minnows being unable to perform the sort of miraculous escape that characterised the early part of the session in Belgium. Giedo van der Garde again emerged as fastest of the quartet, heading Caterham team-mate Charles Pic after work between sessions transformed the electrics of CT03. Jules Bianchi was the faster of the two Marussia drivers, but the pair still wound up bring up the rear of the grid.
To see the full times from qualifying for the F1 2013 Italian Grand Prix - CLICK HERE