Sebastian Vettel has claimed pole position for the Italian Grand Prix 

Sebastian Vettel has continued Red Bull Racing’s clean sweep of pole positions in 2011 after claiming the 25th pole of his career with another supreme performance at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.

After cruising through the first two phases of qualifying (including a session-topping effort in Q2), the German thumped his rivals in the top-ten shoot-out for pole, enjoying a margin of almost half a second over the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, who completed the top-three, despite aborting their final hot laps.

But Vettel didn’t look like he was going to have it his way. After their first qualifying runs, the McLarens were just a fraction off what was then Vettel’s best effort, forcing the championship leader to bolt on another set of tyres to protect his provisional pole.

And he did so easily, taking a further three-tenths of a second of his quickest time, while Hamilton and Button peeling into the pits after each made a mistake at the final attempt to wrest pole from Vettel.

Fernando Alonso ended the session fourth-fastest after lowering his best time on his final run, while Mark Webber could only manage a disappointing fifth on the grid, electing to have a single shot at posting his qualifying attempt. He finished one-tenth of a second better than sixth-placed Felipe Massa.

Seventh place went to Vitaly Petrov in the Renault, who was hotly pursued by the two Mercedes GP entries of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, while Bruno Senna rounded out the top-ten, electing not to set a time in Q3 after using all of his available tyre sets simply trying to make the final session.

The Renaults of Senna and Petrov had managed to sneak into the final session in the closing seconds of Q2, bumping the Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil into 11th and 12th places on the grid.

Next up was the Williams pairing of Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado, with Maldonado being particularly fortunate to make it into Q2 after he had a spin into the barriers lining the inside of the Parabolica corner in the first phase of qualifying. The Vanazuelan was lucky to escape with minor damage to his front wing, and limped back to the pits for a new nose before setting off again.

Having made the Q2 cut, the two Saubers and Toro Rosso’s Sébastien Buemi did little more than make up the numbers in the session, while the sister Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari was the leading Q1 casualty, joining the Lotus, Virgin and HRT entries, who not surprisingly failed to threaten the midfield in the first phase of qualifying.


2011 Italian Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:

Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault 1:24.002 1:22.914 1:22.275
2. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes 1:23.976 1:23.172 1:22.725
3. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes 1:24.013 1:23.031 1:22.777
4. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari 1:24.134 1:23.342 1:22.841
5. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault 1:24.148 1:23.387 1:22.972
6. Felipe Massa BRZ Ferrari 1:24.523 1:23.681 1:23.188
7. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault 1:24.486 1:23.741 1:23.530
8. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP 1:25.108 1:23.671 1:23.777
9. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP 1:24.550 1:23.335 1:24.477
10. Bruno Senna BRZ Renault 1:24.914 1:24.157 no time
11. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes 1:24.574 1:24.163  
12. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes 1:24.595 1:24.209  
13. Rubens Barrichello BRZ Williams Cosworth 1:24.975 1:24.648  
14. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Cosworth 1:24.798 1:24.726  
15. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari 1:25.113 1:24.845  
16. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:25.164 1:24.932  
17. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari 1:24.879 1:25.065  
18. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:25.334    
19. Jarno Trulli ITA Team Lotus Renault 1:26.647    
20. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Team Lotus Renault 1:27.184    
21. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth 1:27.591    
22. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Virgin Racing Cosworth 1:27.609    
23. Daniel Ricciardo AUS HRT F1 Cosworth 1:28.054    
24. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA HRT F1 Cosworth 1:28.231    

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.