Sebastian Vettel’s domination of the Italian Grand Prix weekend has continued, with the German posting the fastest time in each qualifying session en route to claiming his fourth pole position of the 2013 season.
The defending champion clocked a time that proved two-tenths of a second quicker than teammate Mark Webber, who ensured a front-row lockout for the team ahead of Sunday’s 53-lap race. But perhaps the story of qualifying was Nico Hülkenberg’s remarkable third-fastest effort in the Sauber.
Qualifying produced a few surprise results, not least of which the early elimination of two of Vettel’s main championship challengers – Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen both failed to make it beyond Q2.
Räikkönen failed to get enough pace together as he and teammate Romain Grosjean both struggled for speed in their Lotus E21 challengers, meaning neither driver made it into the final shootout.
Hamilton’s final Q2 run was compromised by his ex-friend Adrian Sutil, who was also on his own flying lap trying to scramble out of the Q2 dropzone. The unfortunate German was penalised for impeding the Mercedes driver, and docked three grid spots for his troubles.
The troubles for Hamilton and Räikkönen all but ensured Vettel would enjoy an unchallenged run to top spot. His fortieth career pole position was cemented when Webber had to lift off exiting the Parabolica after Jean-Éric Vergne had a wild moment through the gravel ahead of him,
Despite Verge’s off-track antics, it was an excellent Saturday for the Toro Rosso team, which managed to get not one, but both, of its Ferrari-powered cars into Q3 at Monza for the first time since the team’s one and only pole position and race win at the hands of Vettel in 2008. Vergne’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo was seventh-fastest, but could have qualified on the second row were it not for a brief moment of oversteer at the second chicane.
Both Ferraris eased into the top-ten, and once again tried – and failed – at the rather ridiculous tactic of slipstreaming each other around the circuit. Alonso remained too far behind Massa on his final flying lap, which meant that the little Brazilian outqualified his teammate for the first time since the Chinese Grand Prix. The pair line up ahead of Nico Rosberg, while McLaren duo Sergio Pérez and Jenson Button landed eighth and ninth respectively.
Hülkenberg was the fifth Ferrari-powered entrant in the final ten, and he became the darling of the Saturday activity with a truly brilliant lap en route to the third-fastest time. The German and his Swiss team looked truly bewildered by the result, particularly given the team’s very ordinary season to-date.
2013 Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:23.755|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:23.968||+ 0.213|
|3.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:24.065||+ 0.310|
|4.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:24.132||+ 0.377|
|5.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:24.142||+ 0.387|
|6.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:24.192||+ 0.437|
|7.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:24.209||+ 0.454|
|8.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:24.502||+ 0.747|
|9.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:24.515||+ 0.760|
|10.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:28.050||+ 4.295|
|Q3 Cut-Off – 1:24.776||Time||Gap*|
|11.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:24.610||+ 0.633|
|12.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:24.803||+ 0.826|
|13.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:24.848||+ 0.871|
|14.||Adrian Sutil#||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:24.932||+ 0.955|
|15.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:25.011||+ 1.034|
|16.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:25.077||+ 1.100|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:25.030||Time||Gap**|
|17.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:25.226||+ 0.907|
|18.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:25.291||+ 0.972|
|19.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:26.406||+ 2.087|
|20.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:26.563||+ 2.244|
|21.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:27.085||+ 2.766|
|22.||Max Chilton||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:27.480||+ 3.161|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:23.977 by Sebastian Vettel
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:24.319 by Sebastian Vettel
# Adrian Sutil was issued with a post-qualifying three-place grid penalty for impeding Lewis Hamilton