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.

Q1

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

Q2

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

Q3

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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Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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

  1. William Brierty said on 8th September 2012, 18:11

    I think this whole “pole was easy for us” is just Fernando playing the game. He said that they could “easily” do 1.24.0 in Q2, and that they had an extra “three to four tenths in the pocket going into Q3″. Now anyone that has watched F1 in 2012 will know that generally improvements are a tenth/tenth and a half, in fact a lot of drivers go slower than their Q2 time because of used tyres or an attempt to preserve tyres. So three to four tenths over a relatively short lap is just preposterous. OK, I think Alonso could have got into the 23s, but so to, in my opinion, could Hamilton, because by Hamilton’s own admission, it was not a perfect lap.

    • Kenny (@kenny) said on 8th September 2012, 18:39

      Could Lewis be playing the game, too?

      • William Brierty said on 8th September 2012, 19:02

        Lewis seldom plays the game, he just finds interesting and imaginative ways to get agitated by the media. Pyscological games are more the pass-times of Button, Vettel and particularly Alonso.

        • Kenny (@kenny) said on 9th September 2012, 9:14

          Alonso, yes. Vettel…if he does play the game he’s not very good at it. And Button is probably the straightest shooter out there- he knows all about the game and pretty much ignores it. The we have Lewis, who, I think, has forgotten how not to play the game. Everything he says and does is a (often misguided) PR exercise. If he put as much effort into being the best driver out there as he does into appearing to be the best driver out there he’d be the reincarnation of Fangio. IMHO.

          • William Brierty said on 9th September 2012, 9:34

            Actually I completely agree. Hamilton is the best driver on the grid when he’s thinking about driving. Lately he’s been thinking about his management, Nicole, contracts, family greivances and all manner of things that have a greater importance to the world of rap than the world of F1. Hamilton and Vettel destroy their teamates because of their sheer speed (when I say Hamilton, I mean Kovalainen not Button) not because of Alonso-style games.

  2. been thinking, Mercedes have been having trouble with rear tyre wear, their solution was to reduce rear downforce. Does the loser down force of Monza potentially negate their problem?

    • Mr draw said on 8th September 2012, 19:35

      Reducing rear downforce may have an adverse effect on rear tyre wear, as it increases oversteer. But tyre wear doesn’t seem to be a problem this weekend. Given Mercedes’ high topspeed and their double DRS, their car should be fitted for this track, at least in qualifying. Practice showed otherwise.

  3. Jason (@jason12) said on 8th September 2012, 19:25

    Can’t wait for the Lewis, Ross Brawn pairing!
    Lewis will never win Whitmarsh over, it’s a good he’s leaving sooner rather than later.

  4. Jason (@jason12) said on 8th September 2012, 19:43

    And who could potentially replace Lewis at Mclaren?
    When the car is less than perfect, whilst undergoing development during a season, can they rely on Jenson to pull them through?

  5. Andre (@) said on 8th September 2012, 20:00

    I would put Nico Hulkenburg on McLaren to replace Hamilton, or if they want to go for publicity put Senna there.

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