Record-breaking Vettel puts Toro Rosso on pole at Monza 13 Sep 2008
Red Bull teams nearly locked out the front two rows of the grid for the Italian Grand Prix, as Toro Rossos Sebastian Vettel became Formula Ones youngest-ever polesitter in appalling weather conditions at Monza on Saturday.
It began to rain heavily with 15 minutes to go before the start of qualifying, and after the McLarens of Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton set the pace in Q1, 21 year-old Vettel took over in Q2.
That session proved to be Hamiltons undoing. After an exploratory run on inappropriate standard wet tyres - extreme-wets were the way to go throughout the hour - he just didnt get his McLaren up to speed and ended it 15th on 1m 39.265s. He was not alone, however. A spin prevented BMW Saubers Robert Kubica from bettering 1m 36.697s which left him 11th and the first to fall, and behind Force Indias Giancarlo Fisichella (1m 36.698s) and Red Bulls David Coulthard (1m 37.284s), Kimi Raikkonen languished 14th on 1m 37.522s for Ferrari.
Vettel made no mistakes in Q3, consistently outrunning his competition, even though corners such as Ascari were so wet that aquaplaning caught out many. The German pushed his STR3 round in 1m 37.555s, and though Kovalainen managed 1m 37.632s, it was not enough.
Behind them, Mark Webbers final lap for Red Bull jumped him up to third on 1m 38.117s, pushing Red Bull stablemate Sebastien Bourdais down a place to fourth in the second Toro Rosso, on 1m 38.445s. The Frenchman was lucky to get away with a spin exiting Ascari.
Reflecting the highly unusual nature of this grid, Nico Rosberg was fifth for Williams on 1m 38.767s, ahead of Felipe Massas Ferrari, in which the Brazilian could not better 1m 38.894s.
The Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock sandwiched Fernando Alonsos Renault, the Italian lapping in 1m 39.152s, the Spaniard in 1m 39.751s and the German 1m 39.787s. Nick Heidfeld, who spun in Q1, completed the top 10 with 1m 39.906s for BMW Sauber.
Behind Kubica, Fisichella, Coulthard, Raikkonen and Hamilton, Rubens Barrichello was 16th for Honda on 1m 36.510s ahead of Renaults Nelson Piquet (1m 36.630s), Williams Kazuki Nakajima (1m 36.653s), Hondas Jenson Button (1m 37.006s) and Force Indias Adrian Sutil (1m 37.417s).
With more rain possible for Sunday, a fantastic race is in prospect as Vettel and co seek to capitalise on their performances, as Kubica, Raikkonen and Hamilton do everything they can to overcome their tribulations.