Italian GP: McLaren Mercedes qualifying report

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Heikki Kovalainen will start Sunday's Santander Italian Grand Prix at Monza from the front row of the grid. In Saturday's wet qualifying session, Heikki battled heavy rain to set second-fastest time of 1m37.631.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Heikki Kovalainen will start Sunday's Santander Italian Grand Prix at Monza from the front row of the grid. In Saturday's wet qualifying session, Heikki battled heavy rain to set second-fastest time of 1m37.631. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton will start 15th on the grid after failing to set a quick lap when the session was at its driest and fastest. His best time in Q2 was a 1m39.265.

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN

"A really close session; I missed pole by just .076 seconds. My first attempt in Q3 wasn't perfect and further rain later in the session made it almost impossible to improve. On my final run, I gave it everything but there wasn't enough grip to beat Sebastian Vettel. But congratulations to him on his first pole. Nevertheless, second on the grid is still a good basis for tomorrow; our car has shown good pace in both the wet and the dry so I'm feeling confident."

LEWIS HAMILTON

"It was a joint decision to go out on wet-weather tyres at the start of Q2 - partly mine and partly my engineers'. We thought it was the right way to go at the time because it was getting dryer but the grip-level was poor so I came in and switched to extremes. By the time I got out, it had begun to rain and I just missed the window when the track was at its fastest; it was also very hard to pick out the braking points. It's the first time this has happened to me in Formula 1, so I can't really complain - tomorrow's another day and we still have a fighting chance to make our way up the grid. I'll be doing the best job I can."

RON DENNIS

"Heikki performed tremendously well this afternoon, and his P2 grid slot for tomorrow is a fully deserved reward. As for Lewis, the weather conditions made things difficult for everyone, not only us, and in addition to that we were caught out by a less-than-fully accurate weather forecast. As things turned out, there was only a narrow window of opportunity in which to cut a quick lap, and things didn't fall kindly for Lewis.

"But the weather may be unsettled tomorrow, too, and if so he should still be in a position to score a good result even though he'll be starting from a lowlier grid position than he would ideally have preferred. Lastly, I want to congratulate Sebastian Vettel and my old friend Gerhard Berger, of the Scuderia Toro Rosso team, on the occasion of their first ever pole position. But Heikki has a very good strategy for tomorrow so let's see what happens."

NORBERT HAUG

"This is exactly what should not have happened to Lewis - but we have to accept it after so many great qualifying results we had. Heikki was great and will start from the front row. Lewis's competitors are not too far away; at least this is positive. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Toro Rosso on their first pole - this was a top performance. Tomorrow is another day and we will fight and be focused to do a better job and this time with both cars than today."

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Gerhard Berger , Lewis Hamilton , Heikki Kovalainen , Sebastian Vettel
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Toro Rosso