McLaren front row as Alonso suffers car failure
8 September 2012 – Lewis Hamilton has clinched his second pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, leading Jenson Button to the third McLaren front row lock-out of 2012. Felipe Massa will start third for Ferrari but team-mate Fernando Alonso suffered an anti-roll bar problem and was left tenth. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will start fifth and eleventh.
Heading into a dry qualifying session under blue skies, thousands of Tifosi flocked to historic Monza hoping for an Alonso pole. After the Spaniard missed out on the top spot in final practice by just one thousandth of a second, levels of optimism rose. At Lotus, Jérôme d’Ambrosio returned to racing as a substitute for the banned Romain Grosjean.
D’Ambrosio fell by the wayside in the second phase, but managed to stay ahead of Jean-Éric Vergne’s Toro Rosso. With Red Bull continuing to lack top speed, Mark Webber could not avoid an early bath and missed the top ten shootout for the fourth time this year, also hindered by a KERS issue. Pastor Maldonado qualified 12th, which becomes 22nd place when his ten-place penalty is applied; this was perhaps the lesser of two evils, as the Williams driver narrowly escaped a large accident after running onto the grass on the exit of Ascari.
Hamilton’s fastest lap was 1:24.010, comfortably the quickest of the weekend as the Englishman stressed that he has not been distracted by talk of moving to Mercedes. Button missed pole by one tenth of a second but it was still a hat-trick for the Woking team. Paul di Resta was on a provisional front row slot before falling to a still impressive fourth; this becomes ninth on Sunday because of a five-place drop for a gearbox change.
The result marks the fifth McLaren pole position of 2012, Lewis Hamilton’s fourth and the 23rd of his career. By locking out the front row, to the dismay of Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, McLaren have repeated a feat last achieved five years ago. They also equal Williams for 61 Formula 1 front row lock-outs.
Sunday’s Grand Prix, the final race in Europe this year, starts at 2pm local time (BST +1) and can be followed through the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report