Lewis Hamilton scorched to his fourth pole this year and the 23rd of his career on Saturday when he outpaced all his rivals as McLaren dominated qualifying for Sunday’s Italian GP.
The 27-year-old Briton pushed all the speculation over his future aside as he clocked a best lap of one minute and 24.010 seconds to set the pace before McLaren teammate and compatriot Jenson Button joined him on the front in the closingseconds.
Button’s late flying lap ensured McLaren of their first front row since dominating the opening two races of the season in Australia and Malaysia. For Hamilton, it is his second pole at Monza for a race that he has never won.
“It’s been a tough weekend,” said Hamilton, with some understatement given the ongoing furore surrounding him in the paddock.
“We managed to work on set-up and do a great job. Congratulations to the team. It was a great effort by the lads to do that. I managed to get a half decent lap early in Q3, so I’m pretty happy. It’s great for team to have Jenson up front, too.”
Asked about any distractions he may have experienced, he kept an expressionless face as he said: “I haven’t had any distractions this weekend. It’s been quite positive.
“The support from my family and friends has been incredible, as always. I’ve just been enjoying the weekend. It’s been great so far.”
Button said: “First of all it’s fantastic for the team for us both to be on the front row. The last few races have shown the strength of the team so to qualify at the front at Monza is great.”
Referring to McLaren’s current form in qualifying — they have taken three successive poles — he added: “I don’t think any other team has done that this season, but being on the front row here doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.”
Brazilian Felipe Massa, strongly assisted by his Ferrari teammate Spaniard Fernando Alonso, was third fastest ahead of Briton Paul Di Resta.
Michael Schumacher qualified fifth for Mercedes, while defending champion and fellow-German Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull took sixth place.
Force India penalised
Sahara Force India’s Di Resta however will start from ninth because of a penalty following a gearbox change. Also, there was disappointment for Force India’s German driver Nico Hulkenberg, who was eliminated almost immediately when his car was hit by technical issues and he had to abandon it.