Fernando Alonso gave the tifosi the result it wanted in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, heading up a Ferrari 1-3 as title rival Red Bull Racing missed the front row for the first time all season.
Alonso led throughout the third and final phase of knock-out qualifying, with McLaren and Red Bull unable to do anything about his 1min 21.962secs lap, the best posted by anyone all weekend. The Spaniard even felt comfortable enough to abort his final effort, pulling back into the pits even as the other contenders remained on track. It proved to be a good decision, for no-one could get within a tenth of his time.
World champion Jenson Button, following a different strategy to McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton by running higher downforce and the F-duct, eventually came closest, posting a 1min 22.084secs lap that not only secured a front row start, but also put him ahead of the three drivers that he is chasing in the title fight.
Felipe Massa claimed third for the home team, setting both Ferraris up on the cleaner side of the grid, while Hamilton will also feel content with an odd-numbered spot, despite being pipped for fourth by Red Bull’s Mark Webber in the closing moments. The Australian is half a second off pole, with Hamilton a similar margin behind his team-mate, but still ahead of RBR’s Sebastian Vettel.
Nico Rosberg, who failed to set an early lap, heads Nico Hulkenberg on row four, with Robert Kubica and Rubens Barrichello rounding out the top ten.
1. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 21.962s
2. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 22.084s
3. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 22.293s
4. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 22.433s
5. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 22.623s
6. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 22.675s
7. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 23.027s
8. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Williams-Cosworth 1m 23.037s
9. Robert Kubica Poland Renault-Renault 1m 23.039s
10. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Williams-Cosworth 1m 23.328s
11. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 23.199s
12. Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 23.388s
13. Kamui Kobayashi Japan BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1m 23.659s
14. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 23.681s
15. Vitaly Petrov Russia Renault-Renault 1m 23.819s
16. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 23.919s
17. Pedro de la Rosa Spain BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1m 24.044s
18. Jarno Trulli Italy Lotus-Cosworth 1m 25.540s
19. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Lotus-Cosworth 1m 25.742s
20. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Force India-Mercedes 1m 25.774s
21. Timo Glock Germany Virgin-Cosworth 1m 25.934s*
22. Lucas di Grassi Brazil Virgin-Cosworth 1m 25.974s
23. Bruno Senna Brazil HRT-Cosworth 1m 26.847s
24. Sakon Yamamoto Japan HRT-Cosworth 1m 27.020s