Monza 2012 Qualifying – Lewis and McLaren do it!

McLaren look so good; Lewis edges out Jenson for a McLaren lockout on the front row.  In the development race, McLaren is leading.

Surprises:

Massa, in third, out qualifies Alonso, first time of this year!  WTF?!

Second race in a row that Webber doesn’t make it into Q3, and Vettel qualifies 6th in the other Red Bull; SkySports F1 suggests Webber had a KERs issue.

Second race in a row that Paul Di Resta makes it well into Q3, though he’ll take a 5-grid place penalty for a changed gearbox.

Mercedes seem to be clawing their way back, though they may be flattered by the high power long straights; Michael qualifies 5th, (will start 4th with Di Resta penalty), Nico 7th (will start 6th).

Ferrari claim a broken part on Alonso’s car, a broken rear roll bar (reported on SkySportsF1); if true, how fast could Fernando go, using the season-long comparative against Massa, where Alonso has typically made his way to a much higher grid position.  Alonso has been looking good all weekend, just losing out to Hamilton in free practice 3, earlier in the day.  I expect the most excitement in the race, especially in the first few laps, to be around Alonso’s drive for the front.

Lotus, as expected, D’Ambosio fails to make it into Q3, qualifying P16.  Kimi was not at the sharp end of the grid, more or less sneaking into Q3, and then claiming P8, ahead of only Kobayashi (who did a good job getting into Q3) and a supposedly ailing Ferrari of Alonso, in 10th.  Kimi will benefit from the Di Resta penalty, as well, so he’ll start in 7th.  But it doesn’t look like an easy weekend for Kimi; he looks like he did last weekend in Spa, not quite comfortable with the car.  What has happened to the Lotus over the summer break?

Analysis:

In single lap, anyhow, the pecking order has settled to a traditional McLaren/Ferrari dominance; it’s almost welcome after a variable year, with so many different teams and drivers winning races.

Hamilton has indeed been able to put last week behind him, and by taking pole in Monza, minimizes the likelihood of difficulties into the first corner; but if I were driving the Ferrari team, and I was willing to do anything to help Alonso win the title, I would be telling Massa to go ‘balls against the walls’ into the first corner, and see what happens?!  Remember last season with the trend of Massa/Hamilton connections; and regardless of the supposed cordial relations between Hamilton and Alonso despite their war at McLaren (2007), I think Alonso is the kind with a long memory.  Despite the fact that both of the McLaren drivers are down in points on the current leader, Alonso, if their car is as good as it has been since the break, they definitely have a shot at both title and there would be nothing better for both of them, and the team, than a McLaren 1-2 at Monza.

1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m 24.010s
2. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 24.133s
3. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 24.247s
4. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes 1m 24.304s*
5. Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 24.540s
6. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 24.802s
7. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 24.833s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Lotus-Renault 1m 24.855s
9. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Sauber-Ferrari 1m 25.109s
10. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 25.678s

11. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 24.809s

* five grid-place penalty to be applied

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