September 7th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, with his team-mate Mark Webber second. Nico Hulkenberg delivered a stunning lap to put his Sauber third on the grid, the team's highest qualifying position since 2006.
Q1 proceeded according to expectations. As has become typical this season, both Caterhams and both Marussias were eliminated, along with the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez. Sebastian Vettel set the pace in Q1 without needing to use the medium compound option tyres.
In Q2, Lewis Hamilton's car was seen twitching around on the straight before Parabolica, as though Hamilton was trying to dislodge debris attached to the car. He pitted at the end of that lap without setting a time competitive enough to make it through to Q3. When he rejoined the track, he was impeded on his flying lap by the Force India of Adrian Sutil and failed to set a top ten time. Hamilton will start tomorrow's race from 12th on the grid. The other surprise eliminations in Q2 were the Lotus pair of Raikkonen and Grosjean.
The drivers eliminated in Q2 were Raikkonen, Hamilton, Grosjean, Sutil, Maldonado and Di Resta.
Q3 started with Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso leaving the pitlane together, clearly intending to use Massa's car to give Alonso a tow down the straights. In the end, that strategy backfired, as Massa outqualified Alonso by one hundredth of a second. Alonso could be heard complaining on the radio that Massa was too far ahead at the start of their last flying laps. Massa and Alonso will start fourth and fifth respectively.
At the front, there was no doubting that Vettel had the pace to beat all of the non-Red Bull cars. The only real question was whether or not Mark Webber could find the pace to outqualify his team-mate. In the end, Vettel was a little over two tenths faster than Webber as the Red Bulls locked out the front row.
The biggest surprise of all during qualifying was the performance of Nico Hulkenberg. He managed to make it through Q1 while his team-mate was eliminated. But then he carried on delivering quick laps and made it through to Q3, where he was expected to be at the back end of the top ten. But he clearly had other ideas,and slotted into third place right at the end of Q3. It was his best qualifying performance since taking pole position for Williams in Brazil in 2010 and the highest qualifying position by a Sauber driver since 2006.
Nico Rosberg qualified sixth for Mercedes, the only Silver Arrow in the top ten. Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne both made it through to Q3 for Toro Rosso and qualified seventh and tenth respectively, split by the McLarens of Perez and Button who will line up eighth and ninth for tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix.
Full results of qualifying:
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:24.319||1:23.977||1:23.755||15|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:24.923||1:24.263||1:23.968||18|
|14||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:25.030||1:24.932||19|
|16||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:25.009||1:25.077||18|
|19||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:26.406||9|
|Q1 107% Time||1:30.221|