Lewis Hamilton gave McLaren Mercedes pole position in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza with a dramatic late lap to beat Force India’s Adrian Sutil by just two-tenths of a second on Saturday.
Defending world champion Hamilton took the 15th pole of his career after he clocked a last-gasp time of one minute and 24.066 seconds ahead of Sutil, who was 0.195secs behind. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in third and McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen in fourth fill the second row, while championship leader Jenson Button was sixth behind Brawn GP teammate Rubens Barrichello in fifth spot. “It was a very close qualifying session, and I’m very happy to see Adrian up here,” Hamilton told reporters. “Since Formula 3 it’s been a long time since we’ve been in a press conference together, and on the front row. Preview: The magic and misery of Monza. “But it was such a great feeling to put a great lap together. People need to understand, you have one shot at it at the end, so to pull it off is amazing. “I don’t think we anticipated being just as quick as we are this weekend, so it’s a bonus to everyone in the team.” Sutil was happy with his team’s continued good form, after Giancarlo Fisichella took pole in Belgium and then finished second before deciding to join Ferrari as the stand-in for the injured Felipe Massa. “It’s a great moment, a great day,” Sutil said. “The whole weekend has been a big success. The car is amazing. This is a continuation of the work we did at Spa, and the good feeling of being a race driver is back. It’s a great feeling.”
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Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi was seventh on his comeback to F1 racing as he made his debut for Force India after taking over from the departed Fisichella, who could manage only 14th in his debut for Ferrari. It has been a baptism of fire for the veteran Italian, who crashed during final practice. “He has been saying he doesn’t have as strong a car as he did,” Sutil said of his former teammate. “But it’s been his dream to drive a Ferrari in Formula One. Anybody would have made his move. He’s had a difficult weekend so far, but 14th is not so bad.” Renault’s Fernando Alonso was eighth after a difficult week in which his team launched legal proceedings against his former teammate Nelson Piquet Jr, and Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber qualified ninth and 10th. BMW Sauber suffered a wretched time on the track as drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica were both forced to retire with engine trouble. Heidfeld, who had looked strong in practice and was poised for a high grid slot, was the first to exit early in the 15-minute run, with teammate Kubica pulling onto the grass minutes later. Kubica will start 13th and Heidfeld 15th for a struggling team which will not race in F1 next season after its German owners decided to pull out. Toyota’s Jarno Trulli was in 11th place, with Renault driver Romain Grosjean 12th. Williams’ concerns regarding this circuit were certainly realized as both Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Rosberg failed to make it out of Q1, and the pair will start in 17th and 18th. Toyota’s Timo Glock was another unable to find the power required for Monza as he starts 16th, with the Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari at the back of the grid.