Monza Quali Recap: Hamilton pole, McLaren 1-2 after Ferrari tandem fails

Lewis Hamilton (1:24.010) won pole for the 2012 Italian Grand Prix, with teammate Jenson Button locking out the front row for McLaren. Though Fernando Alonso dominated the rest of the qualifying sessions and looked quick in practice, he managed only tenth fastest with a possible roll-bar failure. Felipe Massa, who had worked in tandem with Alonso throughout qualifying, qualified third fastest. Despite qualifying fourth fastest, Paul Di Resta will drop five grid positions for a gearbox change. Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top six qualifiers. Meanwhile, Pastor Maldonado has two sets of five place penalties, for jumping the Spa start and causing a collision during that race, dropping him ten places from his twelfth fastest qualifying position. Q2 brought unhappy faces to Red Bull, as Vettel barely made it through to the fight for pole, and Webber qualified only eleventh fastest.

Mercedes engines led the way through the Friday morning practice session at Monza, drivers and teams taking advantage of what seemed to be the first rain-free practice sessions in ages. Schumacher (1:25.422) led Button and Rosberg, with Alonso and Massa making a case for Ferrari by rounding out the fastest five. Hamilton sat sixth fastest, Raikkonen seventh, Webber ninth, Vettel eleventh, and Romain Grosjean replacement Jerome D’Ambrosio fifteenth fastest. Alonso, despite his fourth fastest time, ended his session early by stopping on track with a likely engine failure with five minutes remaining.

The wonderful weather continued for the afternoon practice. Merecedes engines again led the session, with a Hamilton (1:25.290), Button McLaren 1-2. Both Mercedes drivers had issues with their DRS, as did Alonso with his brakes and transmission. The latter’s day ended with nearly a half hour remaining in the session. He was third fastest, just .058s slower than Hamilton. Massa and Rosberg rounded out the top five, as the top twelve were covered by less than nine tenths. Raikkonen was sixth fastest, Schumacher tenth, Webber eleventh, and Vettel thirteenth.

Hamilton (1:24.578) continued his quick pace to lead the final Saturday morning practice, barely beating out Alonso for the top spot on the timesheets by one thousandth of a second. Di Resta, Massa, and Button rounded out the top five as times continued to be close well down the order. The top fourteen were covered by less than a second. Raikkonen sat eighth fastest, Webber eleventh, Vettel twelfth, and Schumacher, still suffering issues (now with his KERS) fourteenth. Vettel ended the final practice early, with alternator trouble.

As the twenty minutes of Q1 got underway in the warm autumn sunshine, Ricciardo led Grosjean’s replacement D’Ambrosio and teammate Vergne out onto the track. Di Resta soon joined them as more drivers flowed out onto the circuit. Early news indicated that Schumacher’s morning KERS issues were fixed for qualifying. Ricciardo’s first time was soon bettered by D’Ambrosio (1:26.712), but later times would be faster. As Hulkenberg went straight on at the first chicane, local yellows flew as the German sat on the grass with some sort of issue. He radioed the team that he lost gears and sat only in neutral.

Meanwhile, all but Button and Maldonado had joined the fray with seven minutes gone in the session. Alonso (1:24.540) soon went to the top on his second timed lap, a half second faster than Di Resta, Massa, Rosberg, Perez, Schumacher, Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, and Vergne. Rosberg soon pipped Di Resta for second. Another couple of minutes passed until Button and Maldonado joined.

At halfway, Alonso led Rosberg, Di Resta, Massa, Perez, Schumacher, Vettel, Raikkonen, Kobayashi, and Senna. Webber was eleventh, Hamilton fourteenth on his first timed lap, and Hulkenberg would be unable to complete qualifying. Alonso continued to drop his time at the top. Once all the runners completed a timed lap, D’Ambrosio, Petrov, Glcok, Karthikeyan, de la Rosa, and Pic were with Hulkenberg in the knockout zone with eight minutes to go. Nearly everyone returned to the garage a minute later, though Hamilton, Button, Ricciardo, Vergne, and Maldonado continued to circulate. Hamilton bettered his time, moving up to second fastest after losing a bit of time in the final sector.

Button joined him in third as the final five minutes began. Webber had continued to drop down the order, sitting fourteenth at that point. Maldonado moved up to eighth, the highest placed runner to continue to lap. Everyone from Webber in fourteenth down the order continued to push to move on in the final three minutes. With one remaining, Kovalainen, Petrov, Glock, Pic, Karthikeyan, de la Rosa, and Hulkenberg were about to be knocked out. Webber continued to lap, safe as his time was even in fourteenth. IN the end, Alonso (1:24.175) led Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Di Resta, Massa, Vettel, Maldonado, Senna, and Raikkonen as the top ten. Schumacher was twelfth fastest, Webber fourteenth.

Knocked Out in Q1:
18. Heikki Kovalainen
19. Vitaly Petrov
20. Timo Glock
21. Charles Pic
22. Narain Karthikeyan
23. Pedro de la Rosa
24. Nico Hulkenberg

Di Resta was the first man out for the fifteen minutes of Q2, with a list of names directly behind him. Just one minute into the session, everyone but Red Bull, McLaren, and Rosberg were out onto the track. Early times put Di Resta fastest, followed by Raikkonen, Maldonado, Vergne, Ricciardo, D’Ambrosio, Senna, and Massa. It would not last long, as Alonso (1:24.242) went fastest by nearly half second with eleven minutes remaining. Vettel slid into third fastest, while Button was setting fast early sector times to move up to second fastest. Massa was then third fastest, while Rosberg and Di Resta completed the fastest five. That would not last long, as Hamilton went third fastest at halfway. Alonso still led Button, then Hamilton, Massa, Rosberg, Di Resta, Schumacher, Raikkonen, Vettel, and Maldonado as the top ten.

Webber was still slow, sitting thirteenth fastest and in the knockout zone at halfway. Senna, Perez, Webber, Kobayashi, D’Ambrosio, Ricciardo, and Vergne were in the relegation zone at that point. With four minutes remaining, everyone from Raikkonen down the order had rejoined, as well as Di Resta. Ricciardo moved up only to fifteenth, while Senna stayed eleventh, dropping to twelfth as Maldonado moved up to ninth. Vettel was the next on the bubble, with Webber down in fourteenth. Kobayashi moved up to eight, dropping Vettel to the knockout zone.

In the final moments, Vettel posted a personal best first sector, but Webber did not. Neither looked able to move forward to fight for pole, though Vettel popped up to ninth. Webber was unable to improve to make it to Q3, making only eleventh fastest. D’Ambrosio was the second to last man to cross the line, managing only sixteenth. Maldonado pushed very hard on his lap, but was also unable to move forward. Alonso (1:24.242) led Button, Di Resta, Hamilton, Massa, Rosberg, Schumacher, Koabayshi, Vettel, and Raikkonen all moved on to fight for pole.

Knocked Out in Q2:
11. Mark Webber
12. Pastor Maldonado
13. Sergio Perez
14. Bruno Senna
15. Daniel Ricciardo
16. Jerome D’Ambrosio
17. Jean-Eric Vergne

Ferrari, Vettel, McLaren, and Di Resta were out immediately for the ten minute fight for pole in Q3. The two Ferraris continued their tandem lapping on the first lap, though Alonso backed well off in the final sector, dropping six and a half seconds back form his teammate. Vettel slotted between the Ferraris, as Button next went second fastests, but it was Hamilton (1:24.010) who took the early provisional pole. Both Ferraris pitted at halfway, with five minutes remaining. The McLaren drivers and Vettel soon joined them in the garage as the Mercedes drivers, Raikkonen, and Kobayashi were out on their first runs. Rosberg moved up to fourth, then Schumacher took that position from his teammate.

With just seconds over two minutes remaining, all drivers dove out of their garages. Hamilton led Massa, Button, Schumacher, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Vettel, and Alonso as the men with times set. Di Resta’s first sector was fastest of all on his first lap. The Scot managed second fastest, three tenths off of Hamilton’s time, while pushing hard. Alonso had only one lap to post a decent lap time, but was four tenths off Hamilton’s new fastest first sector. Massa improved his own time to go second, while Alonso managed only tenth fastest. In the end Button, shoved his way through the order to make it a McLaren 1-2 for the Monza starting grid. Immediately following qualifying, Ferrari explained on Twitter that there was “a mechanical failure on the rear of Fernando’s car, possibly the rear anti-roll bar.”

Final Qualifying Times for the 2012 Italian Grand Prix:

1. Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1:24.01015
2. Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:24.13315
3. Felipe MassaFerrari1:24.24716
4. Paul Di Resta*Force India1:24.30417
5. Michael SchumacherMercedes1:24.54014
6. Sebastian VettelRed Bull1:24.80222
7. Nico RosbergMercedes1:24.83315
8. Kimi RaikkonenLotus1:24.85518
9. Kamui KobayashiSauber1:25.10918
10. Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:25.67816
11. Mark WebberRed Bull1:24.80921
12. Pastor Maldonado**Williams1:24.82017
13. Sergio PerezSauber1:24.90114
14. Bruno SennaWilliams1:25.04216
15. Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso1:25.31220
16. Jerome D’AmbrosioLotus1:25.40819
17. Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1:25.44118
18. Heikki KovalainenCaterham1:26.38211
19. Vitaly PetrovCaterham1:26.88711
20. Timo GlockMarussia1:27.03910
21. Charles PicMarussia1:27.0739
22. Narain KarthikeyanHRT1:27.4419
23. Pedro de la RosaHRT1:27.62910
24. Nico HulkenbergForce Indiano time2

*will drop five positions on the starting grid

**will drop ten positions on the starting grid

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