Hamilton edges out Sutil for Monza pole


Ahead of today's qualifying session, the air temperature is 27 degrees while the track temperature is 40 degrees. It remains bright and sunny.

After three practice sessions it remains almost impossible to say who's hot and who's not. That said, Force India's Adrian Sutil has topped the timesheets in two of the three sessions.

McLaren have looked for most of the time while Brawn looked particularly good this morning. Ferrari have been disappointing, a situation not helped by Fisichella crashing out this morning, while it is almost impossible to evaluate where Red Bull stands as the team is restricting its running in an attempt to save engines.

BMW have been thereabouts while Toyota look good one minute and poor the next. Williams have failed to convince thus far this weekend while Toro Rosso is highly unlikely not repeat last year's famous result.

While Renault has other things on its mind, the French team has been on the pace for much of the weekend, however, it is Force India which continues to impress, the Silverstone outfit maintaining its amazing Spa form, much to everyone's surprise.

Following the number of incidents whereby drivers have 'cut' the chicanes, the Race Stewards have announced that any lap on which a driver misses a chicane will be omitted from the times.

Tyre option are medium and soft, while McLaren, Ferrari and Renault are all using KERS, which it is thought could be worth up to half-a-second.

Jaime Alguersuari has had a new gearbox fitted, which means the Spaniard incurs a five-place grid penalty.

The crowd cheers as Fisichella heads down the pitlane getting Q1 underway. He is followed by his Ferrari teammate. Grosjean, Trulli, Glock and Liuzzi are also keen to get to work.

Fisichella crosses the line at 25.590, but this is instantly eclipsed by his teammate who posts 24.822. Liuzzi, who appears to be struggling with the Force India for some reason, posts 28.308.

Raikkonen improves with a 24.230, as Glock goes second, ahead of Fisichella, Trulli and Barrichello.

Sutil takes second with a 24.245, having gone quickest in the final sector, as Barrichello makes full use of the wide run off.

Barrichello posts 24.036 to go quickest as Sutil fails to improve. However, Button goes quickest in the middle sector, crossing the line at 24.189 to make it a Brawn 1-2.

Heidfeld splits the Brawns with a 24.122, only to be demoted when Raikkonen takes the top spot with a 23.610. As one about to ask, 'where did that come from?', Barrichello raises the benchmark with a 23.483.

All eyes on Hamilton, who is the only driver yet to post a time. Alonso goes third, ahead of Sutil and Nakajima, only to be demoted when Heidfeld posts 23.970 to take third.

On his first flying lap Hamilton makes a mistake at the first chicane which costs him precious time, meanwhile, Kovalainen goes seventeenth before improving to fifth (23.733).

Hamilton goes quickest in the middle sector, finally crossing the line at 23.384 to take the top spot from Button who has only just posted a 23.403. A 23.956 sees Vettel go eighth. Teammate Webber is still down in nineteenth.

Fisichella improves to fourteenth, but remains 0.4s off his teammate's pace. The Italian is one of the first drivers to run on the soft option tyre.

The order is Hamilton, Button, Barrichello, Liuzzi, Raikkonen, Heidfeld, Kovalainen, Alonso, Fisichella and Vettel, with six minutes remaining. Trulli, Buemi, Glock, Webber and Alguersuari are all in the danger zone.

Fisichella improves to ninth as Rosberg drops into the danger zone.

With just over three minutes remaining, all twenty cars are on track, even Hamilton isn't taking anything for granted.

Kovalainen goes quickest in the first sector, as Webber goes ninth overall. Elsewhere, Buemi trips up over Hamilton, who appears to impede the Toro Rosso, and is forced to miss the first chicane. Kovalainen crosses the line at 23.515 to go fourth.

Raikkonen crosses the line at 23.349 to go quickest, as Nakajima fails to improve on fifteenth.

Trulli goes fourteenth, but has time for one more lap. Fisichella improves and thereby demotes Grosjean to thirteenth.

Both Williams are in the danger zone, can Rosberg and Nakajima pull something out of the hat at this late stage? The answer is no, both are out at the first hurdle, along with Glock, Buemi and Alguersuari.

Quickest was Raikkonen, ahead of Hamilton, Button, Barrichello, Kovalainen, Vettel, Sutil, Liuzzi, Heidfeld and Alonso.

The top nineteen were covered by less than a second, with while the top twelve was covered by less than half-a-second. It is very, very close.

Button heads down the long, long Monza pitlane to get Q2 underway, followed by Heidfeld, Webber, Liuzzi, Fisichella and Barrichello.

Button posts 24.623 having backed off for some reason in the Parabolica. Barrichello takes the top spot but is almost instantly eclipsed by his teammate who crosses the line at 23.639.

Kubica goes second (23.866), ahead of Sutil, only to be demoted when Button posts 23.427 to take the top spot. Heidfeld drives down the escape road at the first chicane, his engine appearing to have given up the ghost.

Alonso goes second and Barrichello third as Vettel gets it wrong in the Parabolica and can only manage sixth (23.559).

A 22.976 sees Barrichello go quickest, but Kovalainen and Hamilton are both on hot laps. The Englishman posts 23.251 to go second as his Finnish teammate loses time in the final sector and can only manage fifth (23.528).

Button is told that there is little perceptible difference between the two tyre options as BMW confirms that Heidfeld has suffered an engine problem with what was a new engine.

More misery for BMW as Kubica pulls off to the side of the road, the Pole getting out and walking despondently away. Replay confirms that the 2008 Canada GP winner also suffered an engine problem.

Just over three minutes remain and all thirteen drivers are on track. Fisichella is still in the danger zone, along with Liuzzi and the BMW duo.

Raikkonen fails to improve on ninth but begins another flying lap. Elsewhere, Webber goes quickest in the final sector, thereby moving up to third overall with a 23.342.

As Fisichella improves to thirteenth, Hamilton goes quickest in the first sector. The Englishman posts 22.973 to go quickest ahead of the Brawns.

Fisichella improves but it isn't enough, he won't be going through to Q3.

Button goes quickest with a 22.955 as Liuzzi takes an incredible fifth with a 23.207 right behind his force India teammate. Quite astounding performance from the Silverstone based team, and how galling for Fisichella.

Button is quickest, ahead of Hamilton, Barrichello, Sutil, Liuzzi, Webber, Raikkonen, Alonso, Kovalainen and Vettel. The top fourteen were covered by less than a second, while the top three were covered by just 0.021s.

We lose Trulli, Grosjean, Kubica, Fisichella and Heidfeld.

The lights go green for Q3 and Raikkonen is first out, followed, almost half-a-minute later, by Lewis Hamilton. After a while they are joined by Webber and Alonso.

Raikkonen crosses the line to set the benchmark (25.586), as Alonso goes quickest in the first sector. Hamilton, now on race fuel, posts 26.134.

Alonso aborts his lap and returns to the pits, as Vettel crosses the line at 25.846.

Hamilton takes provisional pole with a 24.605, having gone quickest in all three sectors, watched, impassively, by his father.

With 3:41 on the clock, all but Vettel are on track.

Alonso takes second but is then demoted by Webber and then Sutil, the German crossing the line at 25.142.

Raikkonen goes second with a 24.998, as Kovalainen takes fourth, ahead of Webber, Alonso and Barrichello.

Sutil goes quickest in the middle sector, but then slows, perhaps to give himself some clear space.

Button goes sixth but is leapfrogged by his Brawn teammate, as Sutil loses time in the first Lesmo.

Hamilton goes quickest in the first sector as Sutil crosses the liner to take provisional pole with a 24.261.

All eyes on Hamilton who goes quickest in the middle sector before crossing the line at 24.066 to take pole. Sutil finishes second, ahead of Raikkonen, Kovalainen, Barrichello, Button, Liuzzi, Alonso, Vettel and Webber.

While the plaudits belong to Hamilton and McLaren, let's not forget Adrian Sutil and Force India who almost pulled off the unimaginable. Indeed, had it not been for that minor error at the first Lesmo he might have had a historic pole.

As ever, it will be interesting to see the fuel weights, especially as some of the drivers are going to be running a one-stop strategy. Indeed, Ross Brawn reveals that both is drivers are on a one-stop strategy tomorrow.

Interestingly, three of the top four cars are running KERS which means that Sutil is likely to be swamped on the run to the first chicane tomorrow, while Ross Brawn appears to be extremely content with today's result. That's more than can be said for Red Bull, however, whose drivers are starting ninth and tenth.

What with Alonso in the mix, not to mention a fantastic return to the cockpit from Liuzzi, we could be in for something special tomorrow. Let's hope so.

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    Published: 12/09/2009
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