McLaren lock out front row as Ferrari challenge falters

2012 Italian Grand Prix qualifying

Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Monza, 2012Fernando Alonso headed the times in Q1 and Q2 as Ferrari used slipstreaming to boost their speeds at Monza.

But it all went wrong for Alonso in Q3 as he slumped to tenth place with a problem on his car.

That cleared the way for Lewis Hamilton to lead a McLaren one-two in Ferrari’s backyard.


Nico Hulkenberg’s effort to secure a place in Q2 came to an early end. He came to a stop at the Rettifilio chicane at the beginning of his first flying lap, telling the team he’d “lost everything” on his dashboard.

F1 returnee Jerome D’Ambrosio had fallen into the drop zone as the final minutes of practice began but salvaged his place with a lap more than half a second faster than Heikki Kovalainen could manage.

There was little in it between the two Marussia drivers and behind them Narain Karthikeyan out-qualified Pedro de la Rosa for the first time this year.

The contest for fastest time was between Ferrari and McLaren. This time it was Alonso who held the upper hand. Hamilton set the fastest first and second session with his last effort, but was 0.15s off Alonso in the final sector, leaving him second.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’26.382
19 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’26.887
20 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’27.039
21 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’27.073
22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’27.441
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’27.629
24 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes


Alonso stayed on top in the second part of qualifying, heading Button’s McLaren by 13 thousandths of a second. As in practice the two Ferraris arranged themselves on track to use each other’s slipstream to maximum of effect.

Hamilton took third, complaining he’d been held up by another driver. Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes were sufficiently confident in their lap times not to run again. Massa queried the decision but in the end made it through comfortably.

A second run for Paul di Resta was sufficient to move him up to third place. But the fight for the final places in the top ten were very close.

Sebastian Vettel scraped in by a little more than a tenth of a second while team mate Mark Webber was eliminated.

Pastor Maldonado lost his grip on the top ten and nearly had a nasty crash when he ran wide at Ascari, got onto the grass, and had to make a quick correction to keep out of the barrier.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’24.809
12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’24.820
13 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’24.901
14 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’25.042
15 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’25.312
16 Jerome d’Ambrosio Lotus-Renault 1’25.408
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’25.441


The Ferraris left the pits together as Q1 began and the plan appeared to be for Alonso to give Massa a tow. This he did, and Massa initially went fastest on a 1’24.436.

But Hamilton swiftly beat that with a 1’24.010. Team mate Button fell slightly short of Massa, 0.043s behind.

Di Resta did manage to beat Massa with his lap, but only briefly as the Ferrari driver took the place back.

Hamilton didn’t improve on his final effort but he didn’t need to. His team mate closed to within a tenth of a second of him to make it an all-McLaren front row.

But what happened to Alonso? His final lap left him tenth on a 1’25.678. “A problem on Fernando’s car prevented him to fight for pole,” his team announced on Twitter. “A real shame…”

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’24.010
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’24.133
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’24.247
4 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’24.304
5 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’24.540
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’24.802
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’24.833
8 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’24.855
9 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’25.109
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’25.678

2012 Italian Grand Prix

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136 comments on McLaren lock out front row as Ferrari challenge falters

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  1. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 8th September 2012, 14:14

    Ferrari suspect Alonso had rear anti-roll bar failure:

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 8th September 2012, 14:19

      Domenicali added Alonso’s failure happened on the first lap of Q3.

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 8th September 2012, 14:20

      It makes sense. I saw his traction lost in the first chicane which is what exactly anti-roll bar should deal with. What a horrible weekend for Alonso. Another failure in (almost) every session. Now what? Is it time for Alonso himself fail? Please…

      • zicasso (@zicasso) said on 8th September 2012, 14:36

        Like Horner said, Alonso/Ferrari would have to have problems at some point. He is leading, in some degree, due to problems the others had with cars, slow pit stops, etc.
        DNF last race and now this – good for the championship.

        • xeroxpt (@) said on 8th September 2012, 16:53

          you that’s not true, so much hate in this past days, people are getting super excited for Mclaren, i know that what goes around comes back around, but i’m talking about 2005 and 2006 not this year nor last.

          • xeroxpt (@) said on 8th September 2012, 17:21

            @zicasso you were the one yesterday that posted something about wishing Alonso to fail?

            He is leading, in some degree, due to problems the others had with cars, slow pit stops, etc.
            DNF last race and now this – good for the championship.

            That’s not true and not good for the championship, his point tally is gone and the championship is still very long, you’re just hoping to see the Mclarens run away, you don’t care for the champ, honestly after Melbourne everyone expected to see Mclaren running away with the trophy people got surprised and renew confidence after thinking that the Melbourne result was going to define the season as utterly boring, at least for everyone who doesn’t support Mclaren, but thankfully Williams won a race and some other as well, now they brought back harder tyres and gaps are forming as some teams can’t extract the potential out of some tyres, this are quickly formed theories but Monza qualli could have been tighter.

          • zicasso (@zicasso) said on 8th September 2012, 20:50

            No, it wasn’t me. He is my second favourite driver and I think he has been quite lucky so far. He has also carried that Ferrari on his back going beyond what it was expected of him and the car, on several occasions this year. I still think if the gap closes it will spice things up.

    • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 8th September 2012, 15:48

      Massive congratulations to felipe and narain even if alonso was hampered, first time this year they have beaten their team m8’s. Jerome didn’t do to bad either given the circumstances 0.7 off kimi is a job well especially if you look back to luca badoer vs kimi or giancarlo vs kimi.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 8th September 2012, 16:15

      @keithcollantine Thanks for the info Keith, it was bugging me what it could be.

    • xeroxpt (@) said on 8th September 2012, 16:19

      HAAHAH! it’s the curse, what goes around comes back around, it started at Sunday last weekend and now 1 engine one gearbox and now this, a shame cause the only race where the Ferrari really had genuine pace, but at least we have something to watch tomorrow if he get round the first 2 chicanes.

  2. I’m not sure Alonso had the pace for P1 not matter what happened, he should have been P2 or P3 though. That was a lot faster from the Mclarens in Q3

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 8th September 2012, 14:20


      I’m not sure Alonso had the pace for P1

      He was fastest in Q1 and Q2, and 0.001s off the fastest time in FP3.

      • @keithcollantine I know all that but I believe he was closer to his maximum potential than the Mclarens in those sessions. I got the feeling Mclaren always had enough in hand / they could raise the bar when needed, and they did. Shame about the problem it would have been interesting to see how closed he really is (or even ahead if I’m wrong).

        • As far as I remember the only mechanical failure that was out of the driver’s control was vettel’s . Hamilton was somehow guilty when he crash with Maldonado and the mclaren put stops are their fault. Alonso did the best job and he worked for them. You are just someone who like to see your driver to win a wdc this way . If he wants it he should deserve it something that Hamilton does not if you take into accout that he has had the fastest car almost the entire season. To me this failure has to do with the fact that they rebuilt the car that was crashed in spa., the should have used a brand new chassis. If I was them I would change the engine, gear. I’d start from pit land and work his way up. He was faster than Hamilton by an average of three tenths in q1 and q2 . He deserved the pole but things didn’t work out that way. He still can win the race, the Ferrari is fast and it seems it wil be easy to pass the other cars. When he was passed by massa in his first flying lap it was clearly to see that something was wrong. Even with that problem he still score a decent time something only Alonso can do. He will win the race orbe on the podium . I have that gut feeling.

          • JCost (@jcost) said on 8th September 2012, 17:59

            You don’t have to hate Hamilton in order to love Alonso mate. I think you mention way to much his name just to praise how good Fernando is. Alonso is good on his ow right, I understand we need terms of comparison but really, Fernando is good and Lewis is good. However, we cannot pretend that other people’s problems helped Alonso.

          • Tete if you are replying to me I never mentioned Hamilton, just Mclaren, I don’t believe Ferrari even in Alonso’s hands had the pace for pole… that’s it. Nothing to do with the WDC, don’t understand where you are coming from at all.

        • IsaacTham (@isaactham) said on 8th September 2012, 15:31

          Hamilton was in traffic in Q2, and in Q3 he would have improved on his last run if someone was challenging him for pole.

      • tweedledee said on 8th September 2012, 22:20

        Ferrari’s were slipstreaming…you said it yourself, mclaren is faster

    • xeroxpt (@) said on 8th September 2012, 17:22

      I’m more surprised Hamilton couldnt string up a lap 5 tenths quicker than anyone, but they surely had more.

  3. BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th September 2012, 14:15

    Seems it might be a faulty anti roll bar for Alonso.

    Hm, he will have a bit of an interesting race in front of him tomorrow.

  4. Eggry (@eggry) said on 8th September 2012, 14:16

    Problem on the car…I really hope Alonso would make significant progress in the race. Surely Mclaren has the fastest car and I don’t want to the championship settle down soon. but considering Ferrari is not so fast in the straight, it might be tough call.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 8th September 2012, 14:46

      Which team was the quickest in the speed traps? I thought Ferrar’s top speed would be amongst the top 3 along with Mclaren & Mercedes

      • Xysion said on 8th September 2012, 15:21

        The Lotus was the quickest last time I checked but that was in Practice 2. The Ferrari was 7kph down on the Lotus and 4kph down on the McLaren. I think the Ferrari will have little problem overtaking especially since Alonso will have DRS. Also remember that he will very close coming out of the corners since the Ferrari look like they are running more downforce. He will close up at the start of the straight and then use DRS to overtake at the end.

    • Asif (@) said on 8th September 2012, 14:50

      There is no way that the championship will settle down soon. Lewis or Jenson will have to be very dominant in the last 8 races to have a chance at winning the WDC. We already know how consistent Fernando can be so he can keep accumulating good points and hope the Mclarens falter in some races as we have seen them do. This thing will go down to the wire!

      On the WCC, red bull has a handy lead and although the team struggles in qualifying, they always have good race pace. It will take some performance from Mclaren to overcome that lead.

      I don’t think there will be any changes at the TOP of either the WDC or WCC until the final 3 races.

  5. Nick.UK (@) said on 8th September 2012, 14:16

    Lewis seemed to be pretty down-beat again, like he was in the latter half of 2011. I had hoped we’d seen the back of ‘sulky’ Lewis. I hope he can win tomorrow! I’m starting to think that McLaren will make a quick surge in the constructors championship too, possibly even to the top!

  6. Mallesh Magdum (@malleshmagdum) said on 8th September 2012, 14:17

    Disaster for Ferrari and Force India considering their pace :(

    • Jeanrien (@jeanrien) said on 8th September 2012, 14:28

      Probably even more for Force India than for Ferrari

      • I second that. Such a shame for Force India. Especially as I reckon Hulkenberg could have beaten Di Resta’s fourth on the grid. Still, Di Resta has a good chance at a points finish tomorrow and maybe a one stopper could make up for Hulkenberg’s poor starting position earning him a 9th or a 10th place. It’s not all gone yet.

        One thing’s for sure. That Mercedes engine works like a miracle with Force India’s low downforce aero package.

    • xeroxpt (@) said on 8th September 2012, 17:31

      Yes but if things had gone crash-less in Belgium you could have add 5 more positions to Hulkenberg and he would have finished 9th and even if Di Resta had had a normal race shouldn’t have score much more than Hulk, in the end they got lucky when they were down and terribly unlucky a week after when they had realistic chances, FI tends to shy away from the big results.

  7. Jake (@jleigh) said on 8th September 2012, 14:17

    So it appears Ferrari still haven’t learnt the importance of a “banker” lap

    • Nick.UK (@) said on 8th September 2012, 14:44

      I think with the anti-roll bar issue it wouldn’t have made a great deal of difference. They should simply be happy with Massa and frustrated by a mechanical issue. Rather than rue trying to use slip-streaming tactics.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 8th September 2012, 15:03

        I agree with that @nick-uk, unlike most of last year and until now (or Spa) this year, at least Massa is about there to pick up points when Alonso can’t fight for them. If Massa can pick up Ferrari, can at least fight to keep 3rd in the WCC, which they looked set to be losing to Lotus.

    • F1fanNL (@) said on 8th September 2012, 15:10

      The problem was there from the get go in Q3. A banker lap was not possible.

  8. Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 8th September 2012, 14:17

    Whatever the reason, slip streaming intentionally is not in the best interest of the sport. There was no need for Alonso to waist his time on this kind of #$%^!

    • F1fanNL (@) said on 8th September 2012, 15:11

      Does it matter? Massa posted a faster lap without slipstream support.

    • Teamwork is in the best interest of the sport.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 8th September 2012, 16:18

      @maksutov It absolutely is. The teams should use every perceivable angle to improve their performance and slipstreaming is one of the best things about motorsport at large.

      • TED BELL said on 8th September 2012, 16:26

        Then why do you support HRT and Marussia running unknowns in their cars on Fridays. Seems like you are conflicting yourself and the belief that as you said “teams should use every percievable angle to improve performance”…

        • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 9th September 2012, 11:12

          That’s completely different! Those teams at the back have it tough both technically and financially. They need to draft in the occasional unknown for a) money and b) how the hell else are you going to develop new drivers?

          Notice I said ‘teams’, not drivers. If that is for the long term benefit of the team or even just an ideal long term benefit if it doesn’t pay off then it’s a statement of intent to improve their performance both on and off the track.

      • Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 8th September 2012, 16:32

        I think I agree with Andrew Tanner about drafting. But the team have to be convinced it will give them enough of an advantage and they have to get it right. Today I’m not sure their would have been enough of an advantage and they didn’t get it right – even allowing for the mechanical fault.
        I remember seeing the Seat team using slipstreaming here at Monza in the WTCC a couple of years back and they used it to perfection with drivers hauling each other through the Parabolica and onto the straight with a real flying start to the lap.
        But qualifying in WTCC wasn’t a mad ten minute dash, and WTCC cars are rather less slippery than F1 cars, so the ‘hole in the air’ had greater benefit.

  9. Great lap from DiResta shame about the penalty but he should be able to move up if he has the same sort of relative race pace.

  10. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 8th September 2012, 14:18

    Nevermind the antiroll bar problem. Ferrari risked it badly with all the tactics…

  11. Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 8th September 2012, 14:18

    Quite a weird Quali, I thought. I was worried that both Mclaren’s seemed to losing time in S3, but in Q3 they managed to sort it out. The whole tow thing that Ferrari were trying to pull…not sure about that at all. As the commentators said, it smacks of trying to be too clever, plus Massa’s fasted lap was in free air. Alonso will be praying he keeps his nose clean at the start tomorrow!!
    Awesome from DiResta as well, such a shame he’s got the gearbox penalty.

    • Lining up fifth on the grid is a really good result for Vettel and provided his alternator doesn’t pack in he’ll likely close the gap further on Alonso. For a track that really isn’t a “Red Bull track” a 5th pace or higher would be considered an excellent result.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 8th September 2012, 15:05

        Especially if he can keep Alonso behind, indeed @vettel1, he won’t be very sad; I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vettel 4th or even 3rd the way he was driving in Spa.

      • Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 8th September 2012, 16:08

        @vettel1 To be honest I don’t fancy his chances tomorrow. If he gets onto the podium I think that would be the best they could hope for. Their fundamental lack of top speed on the straights is going to be a real weakness, particularly when DRS comes into play. Rosberg and Raikkonen will be licking their lips..! But then Vettel’s race pace in Spa was very good, so it’s difficult to call.

        • Well, if there is a crash at turn 1, then Vettel could even win.

        • @bleeps_and_tweaks – indeed, it will be a much harder task than that of Spa: their pack of top speed will really hurt them as it’s unlikely he’ll be able to makeup the difference through the various chicanes, as Monza doesn’t lend itself to overtaking as much as Spa for sure. Provided he can build a gap though (which he constantly does) I think he has the experience to keep threat at bay. Remember Schumacher last year? (albeit he had higher top speed but the principal stands).

          • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 9th September 2012, 11:33

            Well, he’s only 8kph or so slower down the straights, and with his shorter 7th gear, due to the extra mass in the cars, he should be on approximately the same terms as everyone else in the early stages of the race, as it will be easier to accelerate that mass due to the shorter gear ratios.

  12. carbon_fibre (@carbon_fibre) said on 8th September 2012, 14:20

    To be honest I’d be happy if Alonso finishes ahead of Vettel, Raikkonen and Webber.

  13. Girts (@girts) said on 8th September 2012, 14:21

    Schumacher said he was happy to start from the clean side of the gride, obviously noone had informed him about di Resta’s penalty.

    Vettel said that he expected to be more competitive tomorrow and also that everyone should have a more or less similar strategy. (1 pit stop?)

    I expect HAM, BUT, MAS and VET to fight for the victory tomorrow. Perhaps this is a unique chance for Massa to retain his seat at Ferrari.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 8th September 2012, 23:37

      @girts, this performance from Massa is an enigma, obviously the Ferrari is very competitive here and the statistic that keeps coming into my mind is the places gained at the start which is often headed by Massa. Massa 1st. to turn 1 ?

  14. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 8th September 2012, 14:22

    Well, this sets up an interesting situation, doesn’t it?

    Not only does this result work perfectly for both Button and Hamilton’s championship bids, it will also have ramifications for the Constructors’ Championship, what with Vettel and Webber well down the order. Twenty-four hours ago it looked like they could run away with it again, but now I’m beginning to think that Red Bull can be caught this year.

    • Traverse Mark Senior (@) said on 8th September 2012, 14:27

      I don’t think anyone (minus you) thought that Red Bull would “run away with it”.

    • I’m not sure I’d call fifth on the grid “well down the order”…

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 8th September 2012, 14:39

        It’s down the order enough for it to be a problem, given the RB8’s lack of straight-line speed.

        • Nick.UK (@) said on 8th September 2012, 14:47

          Exactly, and it’s not like then can chance a one stop like they did in Spa to get one of their drivers further up the field; as everyone should be doing a one stop. Red Bull are definitley in a spot of bother here at Monza!

        • F1fanNL (@) said on 8th September 2012, 15:14

          Vettel lacked straight line speed last year as well. Still didn’t keep him from overtaking Alonso in a straight line.

          Or look at Spa last weekend.

          • Nick.UK (@) said on 8th September 2012, 15:21

            I won’t say the Red Bull was the fastest car, but they were not THAT bad in a straight line last year. You don’t get pole position in dry conditions with a slow car, end of. Their problems last year were not half so serious as they are this year. I believe, that is.

          • F1fanNL (@) said on 8th September 2012, 15:42

            Vettel was dead last in the speed trap last year.
            Slower top speed =/= slower car.
            Last year, what they lacked in straight line speed they made up for in cornering speed, acceleration out of the corners and braking into the corners.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 8th September 2012, 16:20

      @prisoner-monkeys When I saw the Constructors points table after Spa I did start to think myself that for the first time in a couple of years they could be caught. Looking even more likely now, but Singapore couldn’t be further from Monza from a technical point of view.

    • @prisoner-monkeys – I think Singapore will give a better indication as to how the championship will play out. It has more similarities with ty Ernest of the tracks on the calendar (i.e. outright speed not being such a big issue). Although I doubt anything will decided until at least Abu Dhabi, probably more likely Interalgos such have both championships being played out up until now.

  15. If it is an anti roll bar issue on Alonso’s car can they a) fix it, and b) will he be given a penalty for fixing it?

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