Jubilation at Toro Rosso, despair at McLaren as rain shakes up the pecking order in Monza.
An ecstatic Sebastian Vettel clinched pole position in Monza after heavy showers shook up the running in qualifying and left Lewis Hamilton languishing down in fifteenth place
The German youngster was among those drivers to set a lap in the early part of Q2 before heavy rain claimed the scalp of Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica, all of whom left it too late in the day to set their flying laps.
Vettel’s first career pole position, making him the youngest driver to claim the top spot in the sport’s history, wasn’t all down to good luck though; the Toro Rosso driver’s lap time of 1:37.555 in the spray was enough to out-qualify McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen, who starts second ahead of Mark Webber, as well as Felipe Massa, who lines up in sixth place. Sebastien Bourdais’ fourth place only added to the scenes of jubilation in the Toro Rosso camp.
“Unbelievable, incredible,” said Vettel. “I was joking with my engineers that if it was wet we have to go for pole. The conditions were very difficult today. With water you never knew what to expect. At Ascari there was so much water and I lucky to not lose the car because of aquaplaning.”
“I dreamed of being on pole. There are two Italian teams, most people know of the big one, but now people know of the smaller one – Scuderia Toro Rosso.”
A few garages down at McLaren and it was a considerably less euphoric atmosphere as Lewis Hamilton and his mechanics tried to work out how they managed to get it so wrong.
Hamilton elected to gamble on the intermediate tyres in the early part of Q2, but the conditions quickly worsened and forced him to switch to the extreme wets. By the time he had done so, several drivers had already set fast laps, and with the rain continuing to lash down there was little doubt that the McLaren driver had missed his moment.
A spin from the 23-year-old at the water logged Ascari chicane confirmed as much, and Raikkonen followed suit moments later.
It wasn’t all bad news: the Ferraris hadn’t set quick times either and were both languishing outside the top ten, while McLaren had at least Heikki Kovalainen in the mix. But then Massa pulled out the lap of his life to sneak into the top ten – and crucially the third knock-out session where he would have a shot at pole.
Neither Raikkonen nor Hamilton could match the Brazilian and they were left to lick their wounds in fourteenth and fifteenth respectively.
Nico Rosberg, Jarno Trulli, Fernando Alonso, Timo Glock, and Nick Heidfeld were among those to reach the shoot-out and will line up in 5th-10th, with Felipe Massa taking the sixth spot.