McLaren Mercedes have dominated the Italian Grand Prix qualifying, with Fernando Alonso pushing his MP4-22 Formula One car to the limit to snatch pole position from his young team mate. The silver cars out-paced the red ones, with Ferrari looking somewhat on their back foot while contending their home race. Felipe Massa managed to keep his third slot, but late in the final qualifying session, Nick Heidfeld propelled his BMW ahead of Kimi Raikkonen to take fourth. With a comfortable margin over Ferrari, it seems as though tomorrow’s race has already been sewn up by McLaren.
David Coulthard was an early casualty in phase one, failing to get ahead of P20 and spinning on his final lap. The Red Bulls have appeared to struggle all weekend, and now David Coulthard will want to get the race over and done with. Conversely, Mark Webber is enjoying a little more luck at the moment, managing to get his Bull into phase two. The straight-talking Aussie managed to get his car into eleventh, missing out on a top ten place by only fractions of a second.
The second part of qualifying saw much of the same from McLaren; Fernando dominating each and every session and setting fastest lap after fastest lap. Lewis Hamilton wasn’t too far behind either, and it soon became clear that Ferrari really had little to answer with. The biggest excitement came from Rubens Barrichello, who while running ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella lost it under braking and spun off. Trundling through the gravel, Rubens was able to rejoin the circuit, but unfortunately for Fisichella who had to take evasive action to avoid the recovering Honda, the Italian lost out out on a chance to run in Q3.
Qualifying three saw Jenson Button in the running, something we haven’t seem too much of this year. The low downforce nature of Monza means that the Honda RA107 isn’t penalised as much for handling as it is at other circuits. Jenson has apparently maximised his chances for tomorrow by filing the car with fuel to hopefully enable him to run long in the first stint of the race. The Honda eventually qualified in tenth, but that didn’t stop a surprised Jenson from beaming with a large smile.
So McLaren have locked out the front row on Ferrari’s home turf, and Nick Heidfeld has managed to put his BMW in between the sacred cars. Things are not loking to good for the Scuderia at the moment, especially as Ferrari president Luca De Montezemolo has instructed the team to get one-twos in the remaining races.
With all the nonsense going on in the background, the success of Monza qualifying for McLaren is quite an achievement. The race will be a different story entirely, and if Ferrari can nab Hamilton and Heidfeld into the first chicane, then they could be in with a fighting chance. But it has to be said that Aonso is looking superbly strong at the moment, and will surely close the gap to Hamilton in the title race even further.
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