Hamilton and Sutil on front row for Italian GP
McLaren Mercedes F1 Team driver Lewis Hamilton has taken pole position during the Italian Grand Prix qualifying session this afternoon. The World Champion is joined by Force India's Adrian Sutil on the front row and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen came in third.
Under sunny skies, the qualifying session of the thirteenth Grand Prix of the season, the Italian GP, kicks off at the historic circuit of Monza. Despite the fact that the weekend has been overshadowed by the race-fix scandal surrounding Renault and Piquet Jr., the drivers are completely focussed for the qualifying session at the high-speed circuit.
Giancarlo Fisichella was the first driver to come out on track during Q1 and was loudly cheered on by the Tifosi. The Italian went off during the free practice session this morning and thus is searching for much-needed track time in the Ferrari.
Fisichella's time is immediately improved by team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. After the announcement of the five-year Santander deal, the red squad wants to prove itself on track as well in front of their home crowd.
With 14 minutes left in the first part of the session, only World Champion Lewis Hamilton is still in the pits.
Brawn GP driver Rubens Barrichello takes the lead in the session and is followed by team mate Jenson Button. The Briton receives quite a lot of criticism the last few weeks as it is believed that he will not be able to handle the pressure of being Championship leader until the end of the season.
Fernando Alonso, for now, places his car behind the Brawn-duo. The Spaniard wants to prove that he's here to race and that he will not be distracted by the scandal that hit his team.
Half-way the session, Jenson Button takes the lead of the pack, but is soon repaid by his compatriot, Lewis Hamilton, who is boosted by his KERS.
Home driver Vitantonio Liuzzi, who replaces Giancarlo Fisichella at Force India, has not forgotten how to drive a F1 car. The Italian is putting his car in the top 5 without any problems.
With 5 minutes left on the clock in Q1, Jaime Alguersuari, who suffered a gearbox problem this morning, seems to be in trouble. As well in the danger zone: Mark Webber, Timo Glock, Sebastian Buemi and Jarno Trulli.
As predicted by Rosberg and Nakajima, the Williams F1 car isn't working at the high-speed Monza circuit. It will be a difficult weekend for both men.
With 2 minutes left, Red Bull Racing driver Mark Webber puts his car into Q2, a normal place for the title contender. In the meantime, Kimi Raikkonen clocked the fastest lap time so far, placing his car before Hamilton and Button.
Despite winning last year's Italian Grand Prix, the Scuderia Toro Rosso won't be able to repeat that result, so it seems, as both Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari are eliminated. Nico Rosberg, Kazuki Nakajima and Timo Glock can head back to the garage as well as their afternoon is over.
Alguersuari received a grid-penalty for the gearbox change during the third free practice session, but after his Q1 showing, this won't make any difference to his starting position.
As the lights turn green for Q2, everybody immediately hits the track. BMW Sauber F1 Team driver Nick Heidfeld is the first victim of the day. The German has to park his car on the sideline as he seems to have a technical problem.
Only seconds after Heidfeld's retirement, Rubens Barrichello puts down the fastest lap of Q2 on the harder tyres. The Brazilian is followed by Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso. One thing is clear, the Brawn GP's have not missed the appointment.
With six minutes left on the clock, the second BMW Sauber driver, Robert Kubica, is forced to retire as well. Over the radio, Kubica tells his team that he has an engine problem. This is a real pity for the Hinwill-based outfit, which is still searching for a buyer for the team.
Despite good times during the free practice sessions and Q2, Giancarlo Fisichella seems to have a bit of problems in the Ferrari. With little over 2 minutes to go, the Italian is 15th.
With 30 seconds left on the clock, Lewis Hamilton beats the time of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button.
At the last moment, Tonio Liuzzi puts himself among the top 10 on a fifth place. This means that both Force India drivers are qualified for Q3 and thus, just like at Spa-Francorchamps, the team is in a position to score big points here.
Eliminated after Q2 are Nick Heidfeld, Giancarlo Fisichella, Robert Kubica, Romain Grosjean and Jarno Trulli.
Kimi Raikkonen is the first one to take the track as Q3 kicks off. The Finn is searching for a pole position in front of the Tifosi. Hamilton, Webber, Vettel and Alonso join the red car, while the other drivers are still waiting in the pits.
Raikkonen sets the benchmark, followed by Hamilton and Alonso. The Brawn duo is still in the pits and is taking a big risk by only doing one run. Maybe they are very certain of their case.
Hamilton improves the time of Raikkonen as Sutil, Liuzzi and Kovalainen join the action. With four minutes left, the Brawn's come out on track as well. Let the games begin!
Sutil immediately puts down a strong lap time and places his car in second position. His time is however soon improved by Kimi Raikkonen who is hunting on Hamilton.
With only seconds left on the clock, all the drivers are pushing as hard as they can. Adrian Sutil seems to be on his way to pole position. Can the others improve his time? Raikkonen takes second, but Hamilton is still on his way to the finish line.
It's Hamilton who places his car on the pole position. Adrian Sutil is second and can look back on a very successful afternoon. Kimi Raikkonen places his car on third position on the grid.