Italian GP: McLaren Mercedes qualifying report

LEWIS HAMILTON MP4-24-04 P3 programme 1m23.633s (18 laps, 5th) Qualifying Q1 1m23.375s (2nd) Q2 1m22.973s (2nd) Q3 1m24.066s (1st overall) Following on from his strong showing yesterday, Lewis and his engineers began the day with some minor...

LEWIS HAMILTON MP4-24-04

P3 programme
1m23.633s (18 laps, 5th)

Qualifying
Q1 1m23.375s (2nd)
Q2 1m22.973s (2nd)
Q3 1m24.066s (1st overall)

Following on from his strong showing yesterday, Lewis and his engineers began the day with some minor adjustments to the car, finishing P3 fifth fastest with a 1m23.633s.

For qualifying, Lewis was always on the pace, finishing the first two sessions in second spot before opting for two runs in Q3 on Option tyres. On his final run, he used the initial lap to prime his KERS before nailing his final lap when it mattered the most -- setting fastest times in all three sectors and securing pole by two tenths from his former Formula 3 EuroSeries team-mate Adrian Sutil.

"It was a very close session," Lewis said. "The car felt very good, and I was able to really put the lap together. I had a single shot at pole -- and that's the most exhilarating and exciting feeling you can have as a racing driver.

"We didn't anticipate being this quick before the weekend, but I'm now in the best position to make the most of the start and to get out of the first corner cleanly. It's fantastic to have Adrian starting alongside me tomorrow and we both want a clean start and to enjoy the grand prix."

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN
MP4-24-03

P3 programme
1m23.803s (20 laps, 6th)

Qualifying
Q1 1m23.515s (5th)
Q2 1m23.528s (9th)
Q3 1m24.845s (4th overall)

After optmising his car's balance this morning, Heikki attacked this afternoon's qualifying session, completing two runs in Q1 and Q2 before taking a determined gamble to complete a single, decisive run in the final minutes of the Q3 session.

The strategy worked, and Heikki posted an excellent 1m24.845s lap, on the Prime tyre, to line up fourth for tomorrow's Santander Italian Grand Prix.

"Pole position would have been better, but I'm happy with my position," joked Heikki afterwards. "Tomorrow, we'll see what strategies everybody is running: I think we're going to be strong. We're in good shape, have a solid and reliable car and are looking to be very competitive tomorrow.

"I've been quick all weekend and actually felt the car was working better with a heavier fuel load than on lighter tanks, so that's another positive for the race.

"Our KERS Hybrid is going to be very helpful -- it's a boost at the start and will be useful throughout the race, particularly for overtaking and pushing out of the corners. My focus for tomorrow is to win this race -- and I think that's a realistic target."

MARTIN WHITMARSH
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"It may be a Formula 1 cliche, but it's true nonetheless: our whole team did a fantastic job today -- Vodafone, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, everyone. Both our drivers drove excellent laps, aggressive yet controlled, and both of them have good strategies for tomorrow. But, however pleased we are with our overall qualifying performance, the reality is that anything can happen on race day and we never under-estimate our opposition. Nevertheless, we look forward to a great Italian Grand Prix at this majestic circuit, and we confidently expect to be able to play a highly competitive part in it."

NORBERT HAUG
Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"What a final lap from Lewis and a great position for Heikki on the second row. This is Lewis's second pole in the last three races and shows that the team is working in the right direction to get back to the top. Thanks to everybody in the team, particularly the engineers -- it is very easy to get it wrong in terms of qualifying strategy here at Monza, but our guys got it absolutely right.

"Congratulations also to Adrian Sutil and Force India for their second place on the grid -- it is amazing what these guys are doing and proof that a technical partnership and a talented, hard-working staff in an independent low-budget team can achieve everything in Formula 1."

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Adrian Sutil
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Force India