Piquet Pole Spells Game On in Monza
Nelson Piquet Jr has scored his sixth pole position of the season from eleven events. With a belting lap around the Autodromo di Monza, the Brazilian took top spot and with it two valuable points to nibble into Lewis Hamilton's championship lead. Nelson will be joined on the front row by local hero Giorgio Pantano, with Lewis starting from third position.
A lap of 1:30.161 was enough to grab Nelson the top spot in qualifying following a titanic battle with his season-long rival Lewis. The pair matched each other almost lap for lap until, with half the session gone, Nelson set the time that would net him pole.
In the early part of the session, the fight was between Luca Filippi and Franck Perera, with the Italian just edging the Frenchman with ten minutes gone. By now the championship contenders were way down the order, waiting for their chance to make a move in clean air.
With just under half the session gone they were out, with Lewis around 20 seconds up the road from Nelson. The pair were going for an out-and-out battle of nerves. Lewis was naturally the first to set his time and flew straight into P1. Nelson was next through and stole the position from him, but Lewis was straight back on top with his second effort. Nelson was not to be beaten however, and the man who has taken more pole positions than any other driver this season blasted over the line almost seven tenths faster than his rival.
As seems to have become the tradition of late, it was now up to the rest of the field to catch Nelson, and Lewis was straight in for fresh rubber to try his hand. With each lap that passed he took another tenth or two out of the Brazilian's time, but it wasn't enough. Just as it looked as though the grid was perfectly formed for a front-row championship showdown, however, up popped Giorgio Pantano. The Italian was reveling in his local surroundings, on a track he knows and loves, and in the dying minutes he set a lap which would net him second and push Lewis down to third.
With the gap between Lewis and Nelson at just eight points, it really is game on for the championship. Tomorrow promises to be a truly nail-biting affair.
1st Nelson Piquet Jr Piquet Sports.1:30.161
The car was great again, and I was lucky not to get involved in traffic or anything. I really don't know what to say. I'm just really happy. Everything needs to go well in the race and I need not to get involved in any stupid mistakes. I'm sure we can finish at the top.
2nd Giorgio Pantano Petrol Ofisi FMS International. +0.229
I think we've seen in the last four or five races that we've been really there not far away from Nelson or Hamilton. I know the circuit quite well and the car worked very good. The championship is not my problem. I want to win the race. I have nothing to lose, so I'm going to do my race.
3rd Lewis Hamilton ART Grand Prix. +0.327
There was a yellow flag in the last corner, but it was right by the incident. I was already straight, and I didn't even think it was a fast lap. I remain positive. Even if they take my best laps I'll still be third. Tomorrow I won't try any silly moves. It'll be close, but I want to win.