Vettel pips Hamilton to take pole at Monza

Updated: 10 September 2011 19:32 IST

Racing on a track that has been a challenge for Red Bull in the past, Sebastian Vettel secured the pole position on Saturday for the Italian Grand Prix with relative ease.

Vettel pips Hamilton to take pole at Monza

Monza:

Racing on a track that has been a challenge for Red Bull in the past, Sebastian Vettel secured the pole position on Saturday for the Italian Grand Prix with relative ease.

Racecentre

Extending Red Bull's perfect streak of poles in all 13 races this season, Vettel clocked 1 minute, 22.275 seconds around the high-speed Monza circuit.

Lewis Hamilton qualified second in 1:22.725 - nearly half a second behind - and his McLaren teammate Jenson Button will start third in Sunday's race after timing 1:22.777.

"We thought it was much closer than that," Vettel said. "The car is very good here. We are quite quick around all three sections. I also think we have quite a good race approach, so I'm happy."

Defending champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was fourth, Red Bull's Mark Webber fifth and Ferrari's Felipe Massa sixth.

Vettel became the youngest winner in F1 history at Monza in 2008 at the age of 21 with Toro Rosso but his fourth-place finish last year is Red Bull's best result in six attempts at the track.

"Normally it's not our best circuit so it's nice to be back," Vettel said. "I like this track but it's been a while since I was sitting here."

Vettel has won seven of the 12 races thus far this season and holds a commanding 92-point lead over second-place Webber in the drivers' standings. If he wins again this weekend, Vettel could seal his second consecutive title at the next race in Singapore later this month - depending on how Webber fares.

It was Vettel's 10th pole of the year, with Webber having claimed the other three, raising the question of whether Red Bull might go for a season sweep.

"I don't care so much about that. We have to go step by step," Vettel said. "So far we're doing excellent but it's not over yet."

Qualifying was marked by dry but warm weather - the track temperature was 43 degrees Celsius (110 Fahrenheit) - with slightly overcast skies.

With home team Ferrari having struggled all season, the seats in the main grandstand were half empty.

Vitaly Petrov of Renault qualified seventh and Michael Schumacher of Mercedes, who won this race a record five times when he was with Ferrari, was eighth after just barely avoiding a first-round elimination in 15th position.

The only significant accident involved Pastor Maldonado, who spun his Williams around at high-speed and lost a front wing during the opening session. But the Venezuelan managed to get back out and into phase two and qualified 14th.

With average speeds of 250 kph (155 mph) and top speeds of 340 kph (211 mph), Monza is the fastest circuit on the calendar, as well as one of the oldest - with the Italian GP one of only four races to have survived from the first year of F1 in 1950.

The track north of Milan features slow corners followed by long, high-speed straights, which this year means drivers should get optimal use out of their drag reduction systems (DRS) - adjustable rear wings - and the KERS power boosts, perhaps setting up a race filled with overtaking.

Topics : McLaren Red Bull Racing Mark Webber Sebastian Vettel Lewis Hamilton Monza Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix
Related Articles
Mercedes Consider Replacing Nico Rosberg With Fernando Alonso
Mercedes Consider Replacing Nico Rosberg With Fernando Alonso
Felipe Massa, Jenson Button Make Proud Exits From Formula 1
Felipe Massa, Jenson Button Make Proud Exits From Formula 1
Jenson Button Prepares For 'Last Race' of Formula One Career
Jenson Button Prepares For 'Last Race' of Formula One Career
Show Comments
Advertisement