For the first time since Brazil 2008 a Ferrari will start a Grand Prix from pole position and could it have been at a better track!?
Indeed, Fernando Alonso’s performance marks only the second time a non Red Bull driver has occupied the top spot in 2010. So, with the positive result in Paris earlier in the week and a super strong show on track today, was the 2010 Italian Grand Prix qualifying as good for the F1 fans as it was for the Scuderia?
Glock opened the session with a 1:31:692, and we were treated with some early action when Petrov blocked the German driver whilst exiting the pits. Glock was furious; Petrov will no doubt face a penalty.
It was clear from this early session that both McLarens, Ferraris, and even the Williams cars looked fast. It also looked as if the Red Bulls were delivering on their fearful comments that Italy would not be a strong track for them.
McLaren seem to be carrying out an experiment this weekend and it was interesting to see such visually different set ups for the silver cars. Button, with the larger shark fin and "F duct" was racing with a much heavier downforce set up than his team mate.
Having been on holiday for the last race, and having to cope with the less than informative French coverage of Spa, it was refreshing to see that the directors of the Italian GP had finally decided to display all 24 drivers' positions and times down the left hand side of the screen (rather than cutting out positions two through to six to fit larger names down the side).
It was with this very welcome addition that I can tell you the full standings with seven minutes remaining:
Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Button, Rosberg, Barrichello, Hulkenberg, Vettel, Webber, Kobayashi, Petrov, de la Rossa, Schumacher, Buemi, Alguersuari, Suttil, Liuzzi, Glock, Trulli, Kovalainen, di Grassi, Senna, Yamamoto.
With five minutes remaining, the session was effectively finished when Liuzzi’s car packed up and forced the Italian driver to call it a day.
So Q1 as predictable as ever as far as the results were concerned, but not a total waste of time as we got to see some strong performances from a range of pole challenging drivers.
Q1 Top Three
Trulli, Kovalainen, Liuzzi, Glock (who will start last due to a gear box change penalty), di Grassi, Senna, Yamamoto
I would say this was probably the least exciting session of qualifying today as the fastest 10 drivers weren’t really challenged, though there was some late excitement.
Alguersuari set the pace with a 1:24:459, but as the session continued the positions changed so many times it took me a while to find a quiet moment to copy down the times!
With seven minutes left here are your positions:
Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Kubica, Button, Hulkenberg, Webber, Rosberg, Vettel, Barrichello, Sutil, Schumacher, Buemi, Kobayashi, Petrov, Alguersuari, de la Rossa.
It was clear that the final battle would fall between McLaren and Ferrari, that the Red Bulls weren’t fast enough, and that Schumacher was yet again heading for the early exit door!
The last few seconds were reasonably close with a bit of a showdown between Sutil Barrichello and Schumacher, but when it really came down to it, the Williams driver had what it took.
Q2 Top Three
Sutil, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Buemi, Petrov, Alguersuari, de la Rossa.
Massa started this one, joined by almost all the other top runners. The Brazilian set the pace with a 1:22:547, but he was quickly blitzed by his team mate Alonso.
It was very interesting to see Button get the measure of Hamilton in this session, but I must admit it wasn’t particularly close.
The positions five minutes in were:
Alonso, Button, Massa, Hamilton, Webber, Vettel, Kubica.
The Williams chose to go out for their single runs relatively late, but stayed around P9 and P10.
It became clear that Hamilton had made a small mistake on his run so it looked as if the second runs were going to be a lot closer than they actually proved to be.
As an Alonso and Button fan I was of course very excited to see the two drivers lock out the front row. However, I can’t tell you that it was particularly tense.
So not tense, but certainly interesting. Tomorrow should be a good one for F1 fans. I’d like to see if Alonso can deliver on his pace, it’ll be great to watch the different McLaren strategies unfold, and never discount the Red Bulls. The Italian GP is a classic and will no doubt deliver a fantastic show.
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:21.962
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.084
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:22.293
4 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:22.433
5 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.623
6 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:22.675
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:23.027
8 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:23.037
9 Robert Kubica Renault 1:23.039
10 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:23.328
11 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:23.199
12 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:23.388
13 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:23.659
14 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:23.681
15 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:23.819
16 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:23.919
17 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.044
18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:25.540
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:25.742
20 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:25.774
21 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.934
22 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:25.974
23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:26.847
24 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:27.020