World champion Sebastian Vettel captured pole position Saturday in a Red Bull one-two for the Italian Grand Prix.
Vettel posted a fastest lap of 1 minute 23.755 seconds at Monza for his fourth pole of the season on Sunday’s grid.
Team-mate Mark Webber was 0.213 seconds behind, with Sauber’s Nico Huelkenberg a surprise third ahead of the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso and Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg.
Alonso was seemingly unhappy about failing to get a better result if he had been racing in Massa’s slipstream but later insisted he did not call the team “idiots” (scemi in Italian) but rather a sarcastic “geniuses” (genii) in Italian via team radio.
Vettel’s pole broke a four-race series at the front of the grid by Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, who missed the cut in the second qualifying second and will start from 12th.
“I am very satisfied. It looks good for tomorrow,” Vettel said, “This weekend the car was fantastic. We had a really strong pace yesterday and we were able to take that into qualifying today.
“In the end, it’s a bit of a surprise to have both cars on front row at a place historically we’ve had bad years.
“This year seems to work well and hopefully we’ll have a good race tomorrow. We’re able to match other cars down the straight and we know in corners, we have a strong car.” Hamilton went into the gravel at high speed at the Parabolica to ruin a fast lap, while stewards later determined that he was also impeded by Force India’s Adrian Sutil, the German driver docked three places on the grid for a start from 17th place Sunday.
Other big casualties in the second qualifying session were Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, joining Force India pair Sutil and Paul di Resta, and Pastor Maldonado in a Williams to miss Q3.
Huelkenberg’s performance was a massive boost for the cash-strapped Sauber team, who have picked up a meagre seven points this season. All came from the German whose best finish was eighth in Malaysia.
Asked where the fast lap came from, Huelkenberg replied, “I don’t know either. A really a nice surprise, I didn’t expect it especially after a very difficult Friday. The guys have done a fantastic job to turn the car around.” Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said, “We couldn’t believe it ourselves. This is fantastic. Nico said it himself, it was the perfect lap.
“It’s very important because it gives us the boost we need but we have to keep in mind this is just qualifying.” The top 10 after Rosberg was completed by Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren pair Sergio Perez and Jenson Button, and Jean-Eric Vergne in a Toro Rosso.
Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber), Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Giedo van der Garde (Caterham), Charles Pic (Caterham), Jules Bianchi (Marussia) and Max Chilton (Marussia) went out in the first qualifying.
Vettel has 197 points in the standings, with Alonso on 151 and Hamilton on 139.