Sebastian Vettel came through to take the honours in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday, after rain produced one of the most unexpected grids of the season.

The German, who set the pace in Q2, pumped in a 1 minute 37.555 second lap during the final session and that was enough to give him his first ever pole position - and also the first for Scuderia Toro Rosso, which was born at the end of 2005, following Paul Stoddart's decision to sell the Minardi team to Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz.

Heikki Kovalainen will start second - and while the Finn edged to within 0.076 seconds of the top spot late on, despite the worsening weather, he couldn't match the marker set by Vettel.

Mark Webber meanwhile snatched P3 in the dying seconds and knocked the second STR car of Sebastien Bourdais down to fourth. Webber's best however was still 0.562 seconds off P1, while Bourdais was a further three hundredths or so further back.

Nico Rosberg put his Williams in the top five again, maintaining the promising form he had shown in practice this morning and on Friday.

Further down the order Felipe Massa did the best of the championship contenders and secured sixth. The Brazilian just got through to Q3 when he put his F2008 in tenth, even though the rain was getting heavier and track conditions were consequently more taxing.

Toyota duo Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock were seventh and ninth, sandwiching the Renault of Fernando Alonso, followed by the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld, who completed the top ten.

Heidfeld's team-mate, Robert Kubica ended Q2 just on the wrong side of cut in eleventh, as did Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton made the mistake of trying Bridgestone's intermediate tyre at the start of the second Q session but, having found that it offered no advantage, missed the window when the best times were being set on the more extremely-cut rubber. Mired in 15th place, he still had the opportunity to improve, but simply could not find the time in his McLaren to do so, spinning at Ascari.

Raikkonen also had a moment at Ascari and the Finn will start just one place in front of the Englishman in 14th.

Giancarlo Fisichella and Red Bull Racing's David Coulthard split Kubica and Kimi, the former getting his best grid spot of the year - and putting the Force India F1 team into Q2 for the first time ever.

At the rear, despite the rain, it was usual names who failed to make it out of Q1, with both Honda's struggling, while Nelson Piquet Jr, Kazuki Nakajima and Adrian Sutil also fell at the first hurdle.

Sutil will start last, joined on the back row by Jenson Button, who complained that his Honda just had no grip.

For the full qualifying times click here.


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