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Alonso heads an all-McLaren front row in Monza 08 Sep 2007

Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 waves to the crowd at the end of qualifying.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 8 September 2007 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 8 September 2007 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Renault R27 waves to the crowd at the end of qualifying.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 8 September 2007 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 8 September 2007 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.07.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 8 September 2007

McLaren achieved the first part of their plan for the weekend by taking the two top qualifying slots for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Saturday.

Fernando Alonso held a small but crucial advantage over team mate Lewis Hamilton throughout the three sessions, and took the pole with a best lap of 1m 21.997s, having earlier set the fastest lap thus far this weekend of 1m 21.356s in the second.

Hamilton’s response was 1m 22.034s, and they were comfortably ahead of Felipe Massa’s Ferrari, which the Brazilian took round in 1m 22.549s. Massa’s team mate Kimi Raikkonen ran a rebuilt F2007 and lapped it in 1m 22.183s, but right at the end he was pipped by Nick Heidfeld, who whirled his BMW Sauber round in 1m 23.174s. His team partner, Robert Kubica, was sixth on 1m 23.446s.

Heikki Kovalainen squeezed his Renault ahead of Nico Rosberg’s Williams, with which the German has been quick all weekend. The two former GP2 competitors lapped in 1m 24.102s and 1m 24.382s respectively. The top 10 was completed by Toyota’s Jarno Trulli on 1m 24.555s and Jenson Button, who gave Honda a fillip with 1m 25.165s.

Mark Webber was the ‘best of the rest’ for Red Bull, posting 1m 23.166s to set the 11th fastest lap of Q2. That beat Rubens Barrichello, who had taken his Honda round in 1m 23.176s before spinning at the second Lesmo trying to improve that. Alex Wurz will start 13th for Williams with 1m 23.209s, with Anthony Davidson for company after the Englishman lapped in 1m 23.274s in his Super Aguri.

It was a disastrous session for Giancarlo Fisichella, who was only 15th on 1m 23.325s for Renault, after complaining of being delayed on his final flying lap by Barrichello's off-track excursion. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel made it through from Q1 for the first time in his tenure at Toro Rosso, with 1m 23.351s.

Q1 weeded out Super Aguri’s Takuma Sato (1m 23.749s), Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher (1m 23.787s), Toro Rosso’s Tonio Liuzzi (1m 23.886s), David Coulthard (who lapped his Red Bull in 1m 24.019s before spinning with a suspected gearbox problem at the first chicane, climbing out of his abandoned car, and bowing ruefully to the crowd), Spyker’s Adrian Sutil (1m 24.699s) and Sakon Yamamoto (who spun his Spyker approaching the first chicane and took off his front wing on the outer wall).

So that’s the starting line-up for Sunday’s race, and McLaren look very strong. But Ferrari have often struggled over the single lap this year and run much better over a race distance, so the outcome is not easy to predict, especially with Heidfeld right in there for BMW Sauber.