Sebastian Vettel ended Lewis Hamilton’s run of four straight pole positions yesterday when he secured the prime starting spot for today’s Italian Grand Prix.
Vettel’s Red Bull team swept the front row in qualifying, with the 26-year-old German in awesome form and teammate Mark Webber just behind in second.
Seeking his third win at the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza, the series leader and defending triple world champion Vettel clocked a best lap time of one minute and 23.755 seconds ahead of Webber, who recorded a best of 1:23.968. They were the only two drivers to go below 1:24.
German Nico Huelkenberg delivered a stunning late lap to snatch third place for Sauber ahead of the Ferraris of Brazilian Felipe Massa and Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who were a disappointing fourth and fifth in front of watching Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.
German Nico Rosberg was sixth for Mercedes while his teammate Hamilton qualified only 12th after running off the circuit during Q2.
Daniel Ricciardo, who will succeed Webber at Red Bull next season, was seventh ahead of the two McLarens of Sergio Perez and Jenson Button, with Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne completing the top 10 for Toro Rosso.
Vettel was in dominant form in Q1, setting the pace ahead of the McLaren pair of Rosberg and Hamilton.
A late fast lap from Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado saw him carry his Williams into Q2 and avoid the cut which claimed exits for Mexican Esteban Gutierrez of Sauber, Finn Valtteri Bottas in the second Williams, the two Caterhams of Dutchman Giedo Van Der Garde and Frenchman Charles Pic and the two Marussias of Frenchman Jules Bianchi and Briton Max Chilton.
Alonso showed he and Ferrari were in shape when he clocked 1:24.227 to go top before Vettel responded with 1:23.977 in a busy session that saw Hamilton run off the track at the Parabolica and miss the cut for the top 10 shootout.
He ran wide at the corner and bounced through the gravel at high speed, but managed to retain control and avoid hitting the barriers.
It was enough to wreck his bid for a fifth straight pole, and though he recovered, he could not improve on 12th after finding himself trapped behind Adrian Sutil’s Force India car.