Vitaly Petrov has kept his championship hopes going with a strong drive in difficult conditions during this afternoon's qualifying session in Monza to claim pole for tomorrow's race one, ahead of Giedo van der Garde and points leader Nico Hülkenberg.
The Russian, who has been feeling poor all day after picking up an infection on his arm, stopped the clock with a lap time of 1 minute 30.007 seconds, four tenths faster than his rivals, to pick up the two points on offer and close the gap to his German rival to 25 points.
Petrov led the field out of the pits at the start of the session and sat at the top of the timesheets for the remaining 30 minutes, with his rivals unable to get close. The Russian even set the second and third fastest laps on his second set of tyres and was comfortable enough to get out of the car well before the end of the session.
Meanwhile Sergio Perez set an impressive fourth quickest time, just ahead of Lucas di Grassi (who has a ten grid place penalty to serve after race two at Spa), Pastor Maldonado, this morning's fastest driver Roldan Rodriguez (who ran wide at Parabolica and seemed unable to improve thereafter) and Diego Nunes.
With 15 drivers within a second of pole tomorrow's race promises to be as hot as the conditions, but all eyes will be on Petrov to see if he can take more points out of Hülkenberg's championship lead and take the fight down to the wire.
To see the full qualifying times click here.