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Page last updated at 13:07 GMT, Saturday, 12 September 2009 14:07 UK

Hamilton storms to Italian pole

ITALIAN GRAND PRIX
Venue: Monza Dates: 11-13 September 2009 Coverage: Live coverage of Friday practice, Saturday qualifying and Sunday's race - which starts at 1300 BST - across BBC TV, radio and online platforms. Find full listings here

Lewis Hamilton

Highlights -Italian GP qualifying

By Sam Lyon

Lewis Hamilton produced a stunning late lap to snatch pole position for the Italian Grand Prix in his McLaren.

The world champion stormed to a time of one minute 24.066 seconds to wrestle the position from Force India's Adrian Sutil, who was 0.195secs behind.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen followed in third ahead of Hamilton's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen and the Brawn cars of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button.

Red Bull pair Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber managed only ninth and 10th.

And the title hopefuls, who trail Button by 16 points in the drivers' championship, will not be comforted by the fact their fuel weights - which show the true pace of the cars with the amount of fuel on board taken into account - reveal they were 8th and 10th fastest on the day.

However, with the top 10 appearing to be split between one and two-stop strategies and a mere 0.7seconds separating the fuel-corrected pace of the top four cars, a fascinating encounter looks to be in store on Sunday.

Italian GP qualifying news conference

Interview - top three drivers on grid (UK only)

Hamilton, who is to make two fuel stops compared to the Brawns' one, made the most of his lighter fuel load as he ran a late flying lap to pip Sutil - who himself had only just posted a lap of 1:24.261 - into second spot.

"That was a very close qualifying session, but the team did a great job this weekend. The car was feeling very good this weekend and I was able to put the lap together," said Hamilton.

"It's such a great feeling when you can put one lap together. We have to wait and see what the strategies are for everyone tomorrow, but we needed to be where we are.

"We're in the best position to start the race, and it's great to have Kers (power-boost) so I can boost off the line, be clear of any incident, and try to control it from there."

As expected, the McLarens and Ferrari's leading driver Raikkonen were boosted by their Kers system, with Monza boasting a full-throttle percentage of up to 70%, and the Finn gave the home fans something to cheer in securing a second-row spot ahead of compatriot Kovalainen.

BBC SPORT'S FUEL-ADJUSTED GRID (with projected race first pit stops*)
1 Kovalainen (lap 28 of 53)
2 Barrichello +0.016 (lap 30)
3 Hamilton +0.047 (lap 16)
4 Button +0.073 (lap 29)
5 Sutil +0.200 (lap 17)
6 Raikkonen +0.266 (lap 19)
7 Liuzzi +0.296 (lap 27)
8 Vettel +0.363 (lap 27)
9 Alonso+0.381 (lap 26)
10 Webber +0.469 (lap 28)
* Calculated on the weight of fuel left in cars after qualifying had finished

But the happiest team on the grid could well be Brawn - with Button looking to have found his form again having watched his drivers' championship lead cut from a peak of 26 points in June after five races without a podium finish.

Team boss Ross Brawn said: "We are very happy with our positions, especially because of our strategy. It's a pretty perfect position to be honest."

And Button could barely hide his delight as he revealed: "We are pretty heavy. I don't know how much fuel they can get into the Red Bulls but we will see.

"The car felt good and I am happy. The tyre temperature will not be an issue - we are not having any problems getting heat into them - and all the Kers cars are in front of us as well, so all in all it's been a good session for us."

Barrichello, though, faces an anxious wait to see if his team recommend a gearbox change that would cost him a five-grid penalty.

The Brazilian first encountered the problem in Spa, when he crossed the line with his car emitting smoke, and there are doubts it can last the race on Sunday.

"It felt alright," he said, "but sometimes you are a single person fighting with 50 of them in the factory. If they tell me I cannot race with it then I cannot say no."

JONATHAN LEGARD'S BLOG

Webber, meanwhile, conceded the qualifying result was the best he and Vettel could have hoped for.

"It was probably pretty close to what we expected," said the Australian.

"We can't pass the Kers cars on the grid, we know that, so we will have to try something with the pit stops. That was as good as it could have got."

Elsewhere, Ferrari debutant Giancarlo Fisichella, having crashed out of final practice after locking his front-right tyre round Parabolica, was a high-profile casualty in Q2 as he had to settle for 14th on the grid.

And the contrast with his old team Force India could hardly have been more marked, with India billionaire Vijay Mallya's team getting both drivers into Q3 for the first time in Formula 1.

With Sutil second on the grid, Vitantonio Liuzzi produced an excellent qualifying performance on his Force India debut, beating Renault's Fernando Alonso into eighth with an impressive lap of 1:25.043.

The most surprising casualties of the second qualifying session, though, were the two BMWs, who had been tipped to surprise the front-runners by Red Bull boss Christian Horner on Friday morning.

Ross Brawn

Brawn and team happy with qualifying

Nick Heidfeld suffered engine trouble at the start of Q2, his seventh of the season, and shortly after the same problem struck team-mate Robert Kubica.

That leaves both with just one new engine to last them for the rest of the season given the eight-engine limit imposed upon teams in this campaign.

Williams, aware this weekend was most likely all about damage limitation from the outset given their struggles on the low downforce Monza circuit, lost both Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Rosberg in Q1 - their worst qualifying result of the season - joining Toyota's Timo Glock and the two Toro Rossos at the back of the grid.



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see also
Italian Grand Prix starting grid
10 Sep 09 |  Results
Italian GP qualifying as it happened
12 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Italian GP photos
12 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Renault to launch Piquet lawsuit
11 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Sutil on top as Force India shine
11 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Ferrari put fizz back in Fisichella
11 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Button must relax, warns Mansell
10 Sep 09 |  Formula 1


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