McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton sealed Pole Position for the Italian Grand Prix at a sunny Monza track in an exhilarating Qualifying Session which saw the race for the fastest lap go down to the absolute wire. First Kimi Raikkonen and then Hamilton had held the fastest lap honours before the Force India of Adrian Sutil upended them both with a stonker of a lap to go P1 in a time which even the Ferrari of Raikkonen could not match. But behind them all, Hamilton was driving an absolute sweet lap and he nailed the Pole position with a 1 Min 24.066s lap.
Adrian Sutil will settle for P2 and coming on the back of the team’s pole position in Spa, Force India’s resurgence was continuing. Kimi Raikkonen will start from P3 in Ferrari’s home grand prix with Heikki Kovalainen in 4th. The Brawns of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button line up 5th and 6th on the grid with Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi 7th and the Renault of Fernando Alonso in 8th place. The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber complete the top ten positions on the starting grid for Sunday’s race.
Q1 saw the Ferraris set the early pace and both Brawn GP and McLaren matching them pretty evenly. Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest lap of them all as the drivers came to terms with the slightly raised kerbs around the Monza track. It might rank on many drivers’ lists as the second-best track on the calendar after Spa with its long sweeping straights but these new kerbs might just do a disservice to them if they ride them too close. Many drivers saw their car spat off the track due to these kerbs, one of whom was Ferrari debutante Giancarlo Fisichella, who damaged his front suspension in the third practice session this morning. The drivers to drop out of Q1 included both the Toro Rossos of Jaime Algersuari and Sebastian Buemi, both the Williams’ of Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima and the Toyota of Timo Glock.
Q2 is always the fastest session of them all and few drivers broke the 1 Min 22s barrier in this session – Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Rubens Barrichello being the fastest of them all. It was also a quite good session for Force India as for the first time, both their cars made it through to Q3. Adrian Sutil was fourth fastest and Vitantonio Liuzzi was fifth fastest at the last possible moment of the session. Disaster befell the BMW team as both their cars suffered engine failures and Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica will be disappointed as this was a track whose low downforce requirements suit their car so well. They were joined by Giancarlo Fisichella, Romain Grosjean and Jarno Trulli to be relegated in the second session.
Force India have shown them all thatp pole position and a second place finish in Spa was no flash-in-the-pan as they got through both their cars into Q3, something that bigger teams like Williams, Toyota and BMW could not match. The low downforce nature of the track might be in their favour but that takes away nothing from the team, who have been slowly bringing in development parts into each races and from Valencia onwards, one could see the progress. Sutil has to be wary of the KERS-powered cars of Raikkonen and Kovalainen who’re lurking just behind and seem to have a good strategy as well. Championship leader Jenson Button and challenger and teammate Rubens Barrichello are heavily fuelled and look to maximise their one-stop strategy come Sunday. With both the Red Bulls behind them, they have every reason to be happy and hope to take the best of the race tomorrow.
With the field being as bunched up as they are, it is well nigh impossible to predict the winner for tomorrow’s race. Hamilton has the pace and most probably the fuel load as well to perform strongly and Ferrari also will look to score a win in front of the passionate Tifosi. A win would do a world of good to Jenson Button as well and there’s no telling what brainy strategy Ross Brawn might have cooked up. Sebastian Vettel had triumphed here in a wet race last year round, can he do the same in a dry race this time? Looks difficult but one can never discount a first-corner melee, can we? All is set for an exciting race tomorrow. Bring.It.On.