Vettel wins pole for Italian GP
Three time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel looks like he is serious about making it four titles in a row. After the recent domination of F1 qualifying by the Mercedes team, Vettel and Red Bull stepped up their game at Monza and took pole with a time of 1m23.755s ahead of his teammate Mark Webber.
Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise third ahead of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.
Vettel was fastest in the 2nd practice on Friday, the third practice on Saturday morning and he was fastest in Q1, Q2, and Q3 in qualifying. Complete domination by the fastest driver in F1 today. Not only does Vettel lead the point standings, if he now also has the fastest car, it could be curtains for everyone else.
Vettel topped Q1 with a time of 1m24.319s to beat the Mercedes duo for Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton by a little over 2/10ths of a second. Fernando Alonso was 4th for Ferrari, another tenth back.
"It's a special track and I have great memories since I won here in 2008," Vettel said. "The weekend has been perfect; the car has been fantastic since the start of the weekend. It's a good surprise to have a lock on the front row, as historically we've struggled here but tomorrow is the day that counts."
Sebastian Vettel (1st, 1:23.755): "We didn't expect to be so strong here, with both cars on the front row. It's due to hard work from everyone in the team working long hours; we've had years where we've had a good car, but not a car that's competitive in low down force trim, so in that regard we did our homework. This circuit has been a bit up and down for us, but this year it's surely been more up so far! The car feels great, but let's see what we can do tomorrow; we don't get any points from today."
Mark Webber (2nd, 1:23.968): "After yesterday we thought we could challenge for the front row, but you never know and as we saw in Belgium and today, the grid can sometimes get a bit mixed up. But overall we stayed strong and have to focus on ourselves. The guys did a very good job; it's not an easy track to pull everything together over one lap. The result is the maximum for the team and it was pretty much the maximum for me today; Seb has always been very strong here and he's a tough nut to crack at this venue. I hope to have a strong race from there tomorrow."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A fantastic team performance to get our 50th and Sebastian's 40th pole position here in Monza. We've had a strong car all weekend, but it's a track that hasn't historically been our strongest, so it's the best possible place to be starting tomorrow's race from to try and convert today's result in to a good points haul. The weather could be a factor tomorrow and there's still a long way to go, but a really satisfying day today."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "We've looked strong all weekend, but you never take anything for granted here: delivering strong top-end power without compromising stability for the chicanes sees you making decisions on a knife-edge. We've worked to consolidate the inherent speed in the car and it seemed to continue to come our way today. Seb and Mark both did a great job to lock out the front row, which we can hopefully convert into the same result tomorrow."
Felipe Massa (4th, 1:24.132):"I am very pleased with this qualifying result because, compared to yesterday, the car has improved and this makes me confident for the race. In Q3, I managed to put together a very good lap, making the most of Webber’s slipstream. It was a great help having him ahead of me by four seconds and even if maybe I lost time at Ascari, I am still satisfied with my performance. We were well aware that at a track like this, it would be very important to have both cars in the top four and that tomorrow’s race will be a tough one. Even if the weather forecast is uncertain, we will be ready for anything and will try our best to get all the potential out of our car. It would be fantastic to give all the fans who are here at our home race to support us with so much affection a reason to be happy."
Fernando Alonso (5th, 1:24.142):"Today went well compared to qualifying at recent races, with the car being competitive, allowing us to fight with the best. Of course, we weren’t at the same level as Red Bull, who yet again here have gone well all weekend, but the race is tomorrow and we start from what is all the same a good position. Here at Monza the slipstreaming strategy is often used: having a car three to four seconds ahead of you allows you to gain a few tenths and for that I must thank Felipe, especially in Q3 when I came up behind Vergne’s Toro Rosso and he waited for me. The radio messages have been misunderstood, as is often the case when you don’t experience something first hand: the word ‘genius’ refers to the fact that we could have got out before Rosberg had gone by on his quick lap, but this should not raise any doubts about the impeccable job from the whole team. Today, we were able to run competitively in all three sessions and get closer than ever before to the rear wings of the Red Bulls: for the first time, there are not so many cars between them and us, apart from Hulkenberg who was very strong in Q3. We will have to try and pass him on the first lap so they don’t get away from us."
Pat Fry:"After the results obtained in the last five or six races, we can be satisfied with our performance here today at Monza and with the positions from which Fernando and Felipe will start tomorrow’s race. Certainly, our aim is never just the second or third row, but fourth and fifth places on the grid are the result of a great job from the entire team over this weekend, in which we paid maximum attention to choosing the best possible package for this track. We knew it would be a particularly close qualifying, as can be seen from the seven tenths that separate the 16 drivers as they went from Q1 to Q2. We took nothing for granted and even if the pace of the top two today was not within our grasp, we knew we could count on a quick and competitive car. Now, we are already concentrating all our attention on the race, because that’s the only thing that really counts and it will also allow us to analyze the overall performance of our car."
Luca di Montezemolo:"Certainly we were hoping for a better result today, given the results of the morning session and then the first two parts of qualifying, but we are very close to the Red Bulls and I’m sure that with a good start, we can put them under pressure. The race is tough here and our long run pace is very good. Even if I can’t be happy at seeing Hulkenberg’s Sauber ahead of us, I am pleased to see it up there with the best, because it shows we have a great engine. In terms of the World Championship, the aim is to be ahead of Vettel and also get Massa into a position where he scores good points. Felipe has always gone well here, especially in qualifying and I expect him to have a good race tomorrow. Fernando is a great driver, who has done a lot for Ferrari and he is right to be unhappy at not securing better results: from that point of view, I am more unhappy than he is, but in a great family, you win and lose together and now I’m expecting the team to do their very best."
Sergio Perez (8th, 1:24.502): "We had a positive practice session this morning, so we hoped we'd have a good qualifying session, too. It's pleasing for the whole team that we got both cars into Q3. However, we were around three-tenths slower than the guys just in front of us – and I'm not really sure where they found those extra tenths because I think we did the best possible job with what we had today. Now, though, we're only thinking about tomorrow. I'm confident we can recover some of the ground we lost to the guys in front of us today, but that'll require us to pull together a good strategy for the race. Our engineers are a great bunch of guys, though, so I'm confident we can do just that."
Jenson Button (9th, 1:24.515): "I didn't really expect more from the car this afternoon, to be honest, and we showed just what it could do, Checo and I setting very similar times to each other. It's a little bit of a pity, though, because, if we hadn't run at all in Q3, our options would have been a little more open for tomorrow's race. However, sitting out the final session isn't really what any of us are here to do. Anyway, it is what it is, and we'll do our best tomorrow. I don't know exactly where we stand in terms of race pace – it'll be interesting to find out tomorrow – but the good thing is that I'm on the clean side of the grid, which might be an advantage as it's usually a bit chaotic down into the first corner here. All in all, I reckon we can certainly do something from ninth on the grid. Everyone is going to be on pretty similar strategies tomorrow, I'd say, so we'll have to see if we can make our race work for us in another way. The weather forecast for tomorrow looks a bit changeable, too, and things could get very interesting if it rains during the race."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Today we saw very solid performances by both Checo and Jenson, the result being slots on the fourth and fifth rows of tomorrow's starting grid respectively. As we suggested yesterday, however, qualifying may not be as crucial here as it is on most other circuits, especially bearing in mind that we gather that rain is a distinct possibility tomorrow. Moreover, in the recent past our drivers have both proven themselves to be competitive and combative racers who are well able to make good progress from suboptimal grid positions. You may be well sure, therefore, that they'll be doing their utmost to forge their way through the field tomorrow, in what may well be a very tricky race, especially as Monza is a circuit on which overtaking is less difficult than on the more tortuous and less flowing circuits that make up the bulk of the modern Formula 1 calendar."
Kimi Raikkonen (11th, 1:24.610):"We were just not fast enough today. We have been suffering a bit all weekend so far and it was the same today. It just isn't our kind of circuit and layout where we have to run small wings. The car behaved pretty okay but we just didn't have the downforce to go fast through the corners with our low drag package. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit better but I'm not expecting any big surprises. In any case we will do the best we can."
Romain Grosjean (13th, 1:24.848):"Today was difficult for us as we had no grip. I was quite surprised at how it went in free practice yesterday, but today was simply a different story. The aerodynamic configuration for Monza isn't an easy one and it didn't go the way we would have liked it to go. I hope that we find grip levels for tomorrow and are able to deliver as good a race as we can."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer:"How was qualifying for the team? It wasn't great and there's no secret that we couldn't find the pace we needed from the car here at Monza. It was quite a hit not to make it into the top ten, but Monza is such a distinct challenge that there is often a shake-up in the order of which cars perform well here, which is what we've seen today. Eleventh and thirteenth is not where we want to be, and there's no real solace in seeing another race winning car between us on the grid. Why did we have pace yesterday but not today? Where you end on the timesheets on Friday does not mean you'll end up in the same place on Saturday due to the different programs being run by each team and a variety of other factors. We weren't able to unlock more speed out of our car today whereas our rivals did. The lap times are very close here, even with it being a fast track. We simply weren't fast enough. What are the strategic permutations tomorrow? For a dry race we can start on whichever Pirelli compound we choose, as we are not constrained to those we used for our qualifying lap as those in the top ten are constrained. However, the weather forecast does highlight potential for rain which changes everything. We will be looking to the sky tomorrow as eagerly as our rivals."
Nico Rosberg (6th, 1:24.192): "Starting from sixth place is not where we want to be, however considering that I didn't get any running in the final practice session this morning because of an hydraulics problem, it's not too bad. I had to take our set-up from yesterday and I just didn't feel comfortable in the car throughout qualifying, particularly with a lot of understeer. For tomorrow, I hope the set-up will work out better as I had a good long run on Friday. There's also the chance of rain and we know that our car is very quick in the wet, so we can still hope for a good race."
Lewis Hamilton (12th, 1:24.803): "I just didn't get a lap together in Q2 today and it's hugely disappointing, not just for me, but also for the team and I can only apologize to them as we had a quick car today. Qualifying has always been a real strong point for me but it really didn't come together this afternoon. Q1 was fine but I didn't do a good enough job in Q2. I came off at Parabolica on my first run which damaged the car and it was a downward spiral from there really. We will see what we can do from here tomorrow. I'll be pushing like hell to get a decent finish but there are a lot of quick cars ahead."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "Unfortunately, that was our worst qualifying session of the year. With the standards we set ourselves, that makes this result a real disappointment. However, Nico recovered well after losing almost the entire morning practice session with an hydraulic problem. The consequence of that sort of problem is that he missed the opportunity to fine-tune the balance of the car, which was not fully to his liking in qualifying. On Lewis' side of the garage, we simply couldn't get a clear timed lap on the two critical runs and that left him outside the top ten, in spite of showing decent pace on the hard tires in Q1. Looking to tomorrow, it will be a tough race for us if it stays dry. However there is some rain in the forecast. Let's hope it comes!"
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "That was definitely not the qualifying result we had been working for. There's no positive spin we can put on the afternoon; it simply reminds us of the price you pay when preparations don't go smoothly. Nico lost the chance to run in final practice this morning, which had a knock-on effect for the qualifying session. With that in mind, it's to his great credit that he is only a tenth of a second from P3 on the grid. Lewis had quite a frantic second part of qualifying and encountered unhelpful traffic at the key moments, which left him in P12 on the grid."
Nico Hulkenberg (3rd, 1:24.065): "I am happy. This was a nice surprise for all of us. I didn't expect that after a very difficult Friday. Yesterday we struggled a lot with the car and the guys have done a fantastic job turning it around to give me such a competitive car today. It is a highlight for the whole team. Such a result will lift our spirits. During qualifying the car just got better and better and the track improved as well. We made the right decision to go for one timed lap in Q3 and then this happened. I hope the long run pace is good tomorrow. A big thank you to the whole team and everyone in Hinwil, who have been working hard and have never given up in this difficult year."
Esteban Gutierrez (17th, 1:25.226): "It's quite disappointing, because we had a good pace and a good rhythm in practice this morning. It was quite surprising to get a result like that in qualifying. The field is very tight and competitive, and it was quite a tricky session. After FP3 this morning I felt in good shape. Everything was working reasonably and now we have to analyze why we are missing more than four tenths to Nico. It's challenging, but we need to keep pushing."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "We are very happy with a result like that. Of course, there are two sides to it. Step by step we could see the development of the car was going in the right direction. On top of that the engineers did a fantastic job, working all night to turn the car around. In addition the driver has to get the most out of the car, deliver a perfect lap. Esteban drove very well over the last few races, so we hope he will be able to get the most out of the car tomorrow as well."
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: "A fantastic result after a difficult Friday when we evaluated some new parts getting the most out of the package. The engineers worked very hard throughout all the sessions to improve the cars for qualifying, and, as always, the grid in Monza is very tight. Every lap he did, Nico chipped away finding more and more in himself and the car, and he executed a perfect Q3 lap to clinch P3 on the grid. This is obviously a little bit above our competitiveness from a race performance point of view, but our aim for sure is to improve our points tally. Esteban had been very strong in free practice but was unlucky to miss Q2 by just two tenths of a second. However, I'm sure he will race well tomorrow."
Adrian Sutil (14th, 1:24.932): "A tough qualifying today. We made some changes overnight, but they didn't really show much improvement during final practice, which was strange. So there was not much we could do ahead of qualifying apart from change a few more things to try and help the balance. The car felt a bit better for qualifying, but we are still too far away from where we should be. My lap in Q2 was not too bad and P14 was the maximum today. Scoring points tomorrow is our aim and although it's a difficult task, we will do our best."
Paul di Resta (16th, 1:25.077): "It's been a mixed day with the brake disc failure this morning, which cost us some track time and meant we headed into qualifying with a car set-up that was far from optimized. The guys did a fantastic job to get the car ready in time, but ultimately we didn't have the performance to do any better than P16. It's fair to say that we have struggled more with our one-lap pace here, so hopefully we can be more competitive in race conditions. There's also talk of changeable weather so maybe we can do something with the strategy to move forward in the race."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "Monza has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for Sahara Force India, but we've not been on the pace this weekend. Yesterday we saw both drivers unable to find a good balance and struggling with the car under braking, and despite our best efforts we've not totally solved those issues. I think that showed in today's qualifying session where both cars were missing grip. Starting from P14 and P16 means we've got a bit of a fight on our hands tomorrow, but we never give up and will try our best to come away with some points."
Pastor Maldonado (15th, 1:25.011): "We were penalized when we were stopped at the weighbridge during Q2 which meant we weren't able to complete the extra laps we had planned. Realistically we could have been nearer to the top ten as this more we looked better. Even during qualifying the car still felt quite good but unfortunately that was all we could do today."
Valtteri Bottas (18th, 1:25.291): "On my fastest laps on the option tire in qualifying I had a good clean lap with no mistakes which I really thought would be enough to get through to Q2, but the lap time wasn't there. We need to look at the data tonight because it felt much better than what the time showed. Our race pace looks good for tomorrow and there's plenty of opportunities to overtake so I still think that we can have a good race."
Xevi Pujolar, Chief Race Engineer: "We did some tests with the rear wing level in FP3 and both drivers were happy with the balance of the car going into qualifying. We knew it was important to put everything together in one lap as the times were very close. Valtteri was struggling for grip in Q1, particularly on the option medium tire. Pastor did a good job in Q1 but then after his warm up run in Q2 we were stopped at the weighbridge. We allow a margin for this, but the length of the stop then didn't allow us enough time to get the car back and out in time to do the three lap run we had planned to get the optimum grip in the tire. There is still a chance of rain for the race so even though we are further down on the grid than we would like, it will be about tire management and we still have a chance to get some points tomorrow."
Daniel Ricciardo (7th, 1:24.209): "It's nice to be back in Q3. Maybe at the end, a top five finish might have been on the cards. However, we missed a little something in Q3, doing a two lap run, and with hindsight, maybe a one lap run with a lighter fuel load would have been better, but I am still happy with seventh. I dropped a wheel in the gravel at the second chicane which might have cost me some time. To have both cars in the top ten on merit on a dry track is a very good result. A wet or dry race? I am not too fussed, because I'm sure that if it does rain we will look pretty handy, and we are not too bad in the dry either. But for the fans, let's hope for a dry race. It's great driving here, because the crowd is so passionate about motor racing, even if most of them cheer for the red cars! The atmosphere is fantastic and, as an Italian team, I hope we can come away with some good points tomorrow."
Jean-Eric Vergne (10th, 1:28.050): "I have to thank the team for doing a great job to give me such a competitive car for this afternoon. We were not looking so good yesterday and all their efforts last night have paid off today in FP3 and qualifying. I pushed to the limit on my final run in Q3 and just got out of shape, going off into the gravel at the Parabolica corner. It's a shame, but I am pleased with P10. There is a big risk of rain tomorrow which could make life interesting, but clearly starting tenth, a significant number of points must be our target and it's a realistic one."
James Key, Technical Director: "Friday morning showed we could make the car work well at what is a special circuit, requiring a unique set-up. In FP2, we went slightly the wrong way, but we worked hard overnight to recover, so as to capitalize on the positive aspects while also looking to adapt to the hotter conditions for qualifying. FP3 also went well and we got the balance we wanted, especially on Jean-Eric's car. After that, we were reasonably sure our car would perform at its best and then came a fantastic job in qualifying. Some of it came from the team of course, but much of the credit goes to the drivers and their disciplined approach to getting the best out of the tires. The result was that we got both cars into Q3 on merit and it's great to start P7 with Daniel. It was a shame for Jean-Eric who just ran slightly wide at the final Parabolica corner, otherwise he could have been in a similar position to his team-mate. It's good to be running competitively again. Why the 'in' and the 'out' lap on both cars at the start of Q3? Simply to do a balance check on the old tires before doing the final run on a new set, having made some changes after Q2."
Giedo van der Garde (19th, 1:26.406): "FP3 started ok for me. We still had some understeer in sector two and there was too much front locking so we corrected that for run two. The real issue was still managing the front tire warm up which is obviously critical in maximizing performance, but throughout the session we kept working on it and by the performance run we were happier with where we were.. In quali we went for two runs on the mediums, going out early in the session for three timed laps and the car felt pretty good. There was a bit more to come in sector one and we put more front wing on for the second run and on the first flying lap I nailed it. A mid-26 was about as good as we could have hoped for so I'm really pleased with how quali went. It's another session where I'm building my experience and my confidence in the car so I'll go into the race feeling really good."
Charles Pic (20th, 1:26.563): "The team worked very hard last night going through all the data from yesterday and after my first FP3 run it was clear we'd made good progress. The car felt better balanced, particularly in the medium speed corners and it improved again throughout the session. By the time we went for the performance run we'd found a setup that was working pretty well, much closer to what we wanted to see so we went into quali feeling quite positive. Between FP3 and quali the track temps increased and when I went out for the first run in Q1 the car balance wasn't there anymore. It had changed from the morning and I felt like I couldn't really push. We'd opted for two runs on the mediums and my quickest lap on the first run was ok. We added a bit more front wing for the second run and I put in my quickest time on the final lap of run two, but there was definitely more to come if we'd had the same sort of balance we'd had in FP3. Despite that, the main target for the team was to finish ahead of our direct competitors and we clearly did that today."
Jules Bianchi (21st, 1:27.085):"Unfortunately we just ran out of time to keep working on striking a good car balance here. It is clear that I am fighting the car a little and losing time because of this, but I am more hopeful that we will be slightly better off in terms of race pace tomorrow. Quite disappointing, as this is such a fantastic circuit and one I feel is particularly special to me, but all we can do is our best tomorrow and hope that some chances come our way."
Max Chilton (22nd, 1:27.480):"After such a positive start yesterday, I was hoping for a better result today, so it's a little disappointing and frustrating to have fallen back a bit. I do take some comfort though in the fact that much of that can be attributed to a fuelling issue, which we only discovered at the end of qualifying. 19.5kgs will have made all the difference today and it is easy to do the maths and gauge the impact that has had relative to the cars directly ahead on the grid tomorrow. So I will take some encouragement from that and the fact that our race pace yesterday did look slightly more promising. We will have our work cut out tomorrow for sure, given where we are now starting, but we will do everything possible to recover some ground."
John Booth, Team Principal:"This morning with both cars we continued working through various mechanical set-ups in order to try to improve the balance of the car from yesterday. It is fairly clear that the car is quite difficult to drive in these low downforce conditions and despite very different set-up directions on the two cars we haven't been able to arrive at a good compromise set-up overall. Into qualifying it is clear that tire warm-up is a significant factor and this called for slightly longer runs than usual. On the second run we tried something a little different in order to try to gain more temperature but it seems that wasn't quite enough and several laps were still required. Neither driver improved on their second runs and we will spend some time analyzing what went wrong. On Jules' second run, we had an issue with the DRS, which we are currently investigating and at the end of the session we also discovered a fuelling error on Max's car - in the order of 19.5kgs. This will have significantly impacted upon Max's lap time and our overall delta to the cars in front. There's nothing we can do about it now but it does give us some confidence that, going into the race, the gap is not quite as big as we had perhaps feared. Coupled with the question mark over the forecast for tomorrow afternoon's race, we look forward to what will hopefully be a more rewarding day."
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