Monza, September 8, 2012 – McLaren has claimed its third one-two in qualifying this year, thanks to pole position for Lewis Hamilton, who set a time of 1m24.010s at Monza, just ahead of his team mate Jenson Button. McLaren now equals the record of 61 one-two results in qualifying, held by Williams. Both drivers used the P Zero White medium tyre, which has been nominated along with the P Zero Silver hard tyre this weekend for the fastest circuit of the year.
Once again, conditions were dry and warm for qualifying at Monza, with 43 degrees centigrade track temperature. Most drivers started the first qualifying session on the hard compound: only Marussia and HRT went for the medium compound. Some drivers were completing longer runs than usual during the session, with up to four flying laps as well as an in-lap and an out-lap in order to get the best out of the hard-wearing Silver tyre.
Lotus stand-in Jerome D’Ambrosio was the first of the frontrunners to move onto the medium tyre in qualifying one, taking part in his first qualifying session since last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was quickest in the first session, using the hard tyres.
D’Ambrosio was also the only driver to start the second qualifying session on the hard tyre, while the other 16 competitors began the session on the P Zero White medium. Alonso was again quickest in the second session, having established his benchmark time on his first run with the mediums.
The Ferrari drivers were first out on the track for the top 10 shoot-out with the medium tyre but Hamilton’s time from his first run on the mediums was enough to put him on pole position: the 23rd of his career. Force India driver Paul di Resta completed his best-ever qualifying in fourth, but will take a five-place grid penalty tomorrow.
The final free practice session this morning underlined just how competitive the action will be this weekend, after Lewis Hamilton beat Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso by just one-thousandths of a second, with both drivers using the medium tyre to set their best times.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “Again we’ve seen very good performance and durability from our tyres today, as the closeness of the competition in both free practice and qualifying showed. Degradation is comparatively low, while we have the usual levels of wear on the front-right tyre due to the characteristics of the Parabolica. We’ve reduced the tread gauge for the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix this year, which diminishes heat build-up and reduces blistering but accounts for the tyres taking slightly longer to warm up, particularly at Monza where downforce levels are extremely low. The benefit of that is improved durability and with only about 0.3 seconds per lap time difference between the two compounds, we could be in line to see quite a variety of different strategies tomorrow with both two stops and perhaps even one stop possible. We saw some of the teams using slipstreaming on the straights in order to boost the performance of the car and tyres, which can be worth a tenth of a second or so around here: a clear illustration of the importance of tactics and strategy in every aspect of Formula One. As always the atmosphere in Monza has been amazing, with so much enthusiasm from all the fans: it’s a real privilege to call this our home race.”
Tyres used by the top ten qualifiers:
Hamilton – 1:24.010s Medium
Button – 1:24.133s Medium
Massa – 1:24.247s Medium
Di Resta – 1:24.304s Medium
Schumacher – 1:24.540s Medium
Vettel – 1:24.802s Medium
Rosberg – 1:24.833s Medium
Raikkonen – 1:24.855s Medium
Kobayashi – 1:25.109s Medium
Alonso – 1:25.678s Medium