VF1blog: McLaren lockout the front as Lewis clinch
Saturday means business, the quest to qualify on top of timing screens. The final practice has been a tough session as just one thousandth of a second separated Hamilton and Alonso at top while the top 10 just under a second. The bright skies signalled a thrilling battle for pole. Dive down into the first corner takes a lot of energy from the brakes and locking up is often a scene there. The average speed at Monza is dealt with over 140mph which is more than usual compared to any other track. Daniel Ricciardo has been out on track first followed by D’Ambrosio who stands in for Grosjean along with di Resta of Force India. Resta sets in early pace while D’Ambrosio dropped into second ahead of Ricciardo. Meanwhile, both the Mclarens stayed still at their garages, most of the front running teams has come out onto the track.
Mercedes have been running their innovative DRS system which reduces the drag down will be helpful in a track such of a kind like Monza. Nico Rosberg moves to top ahead of his team-mate Schumacher and Mclarens are making their way out of the pit lane. Nico Hulkenberg parked on the escape roads seen next to the first chicane and ended his qualifying hopes as of a gearbox issue. Loads of expectations rely on Ferrari at Italy and Alonso making no mistake to go quickest of all, a tenth faster than Rosberg and Paul di Resta slotted into third ahead of Massa. Jenson Button found his Mclaren in the drop zone along with the usual suspects. While he improved on his team, D’Ambrosio felt the pressure of elimination from q3 as he needed another lap to book a place in q2.
Alonso found another half second from his F2012 and sat relaxed in the garage gagging for q2. Lewis Hamilton led the Mclaren prospects ahead of Button followed by Nico Rosberg, Paul di Resta, Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel, Bruno Senna and Kimi Raikkonen. At the back, D’Ambrosio relieved himself from the drop zone but only just to knock out Kovaleinen of Caterham. Narain Karthikeyan out qualified his team-mate Pedro de La Rosa for the first time on his 100th race weekend, shame for the Spaniard.
Eliminated: 18) Heikki Kovalainen 19) Vitaly Petrov 20) Timo Glock 21) Charles Pic 22) Narain Karthikeyan 23) Pedro de la Rosa 24) Nico Hulkenberg
The Ferraris are out on the track early on medium tyres. Alonso firmly into 1m 24s and looked fastest to take pole. The only remaining Force India of Paul di Resta has gone six tenths slower in p2. Red Bull having a difficult weekend and both the drivers seemingly out of the pace. The reigning champion Vettel could only manage eight tenths slower than Alonso while Webber over a second. Button lapped a quicker time so close to Alonso, just one hundredth of a second slower while Massa has consistently been there in top 5 of q2, a big turnaround for the struggling Brazilian.
As the last minutes approached, drivers at the back bolted new rubbers to improve their times. The track looked frantic as the laps times have been so close and a little improvement is all that the drivers needed. Mark Webber, an unusual casualty, sat at 13th and under desperation to qualify for next session. Pastor Maldonado is at a vulnerable position in p10, just one tenth up on Webber. Likewise, Vettel has been in a position to drop out when Kobayashi found a tenth or two in his Sauber. But Vettel retaliated and jumped few places up into ninth. Nowhere to go for Webber as he starts the race only at eleventh which will hurt his winning aspirations at Monza. Senna kicked in a lot of dust into the track as he ruined his final lap with a mistake. Alonso fastest again but the Mclarens are up there in contention to snatch pole from the Ferrari.
11) Webber 12) Maldonado 13) Perez 14) Senna 15) Ricciardo 16) D’Ambrosio 17) Vergne
Ten place grid penalty for Maldonado (jump start and impeding Glock at Spa)
Whatever happens it will be a close call for the top teams mainly Ferrari, Mclaren and Mercedes on q3. Ferrari’s aspiration to beat the clock has come on so early as Massa tucked behind Alonso to see himself up in contention for the race than he used to be. Toeing does helps as it cuts down the pressure drag. Alonso let go Massa on the track emptied for almost half of the q3 to set the early pace. With a bit of a help, 1M 24S of Massa set a steady mark, after which, an immediate effect, as Fernando has gone six seconds slower and coasted back to the garage for new set of rubber.
The Mercedes duo got nothing to choose between them as Schumacher led Rosberg in their timed laps. Resta has been impressive all season long and put on a valiant effort to go as high as p2. Mclaren’s invasion on high-speed tracks continued as Hamilton set the tone up scrambling to the top, four tenths quicker than his once fierce rival Massa. The Saubers are pretty sensitive in the bumpy area, Kobayashi has fallen to be the casualty and couldn’t put his car in the mix as like he did at Spa. At the dying moments, Massa, Alonso and Button had the chances in hand to jump Hamilton for pole. Lewis though, gone a little further, to keep it ahead of Massa.
Alonso, on his last run, hasn’t been at his best and consistent lose of pace in all sectors made him to settle with only p10. Button as smooth as silk missed from being on pole but only three tenths down on his team-mate to lockout a Mclaren front row. The best qualifying session for Massa since a long time as he took a step in right direction towards securing his future with Ferrari. Five place grid drop for Resta as he starts along with Alonso in the fifth row of the grid. The German counterparts Vettel and Rosberg will begin tomorrow’s race on third row of the grid. Raikkonen has been quiet all weekend but his car likes the dry race as we know.
Alonso believes it is an easy run to pole if not for a mechanical failure so in front of the adoring tifosi crowd he has to do some heroic effort to take the top step of podium from the Mclarens. It is going to be a fascinating contest down into turn one.
Top 10: 1) Hamilton 2) Button 3) Massa 4) Di Resta 5) Schumacher 6) Vettel 7) Rosberg 8) Raikkonen 9) Kobayashi 10) Alonso
Five place grid drop for Resta (gearbox change)
Author: Suren F1
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