Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel seized pole position for the Italian Grand Prix and left his title rivals trailing with Red Bull locking out the front row in qualifying on Saturday. Australian Mark Webber will line up alongside on the front row for his last race in Europe while Germanys Nico Hulkenberg sprung a huge surprise by grabbing third place on the grid for Ferrari-powered Sauber.
Ferraris Fernando Alonso,Vettels closest title rival with a 46 point gap to make up,qualified fifth and behind Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo watching. Lewis Hamilton,last years winner for McLaren who had entered the weekend chasing a fifth successive pole,failed to make the top 10 and starts 12th for Mercedes.
The pole was the 40th of Vettels F1 career and came at a track that Red Bull principal Christian Horner said only last month was something of an Achilles heel for the team along with Belgium. However,Vettel won in Belgium and the 26-year-old German took his first Formula One victory at Monza in 2008 for Toro Rosso while also winning for Red Bull in 2011.
Hamilton was left shaking his head,even if he seemed to be held up by Force Indias Adrian Sutil. Hulkenberg,who has been seen as a possible replacement for Massa at Ferrari at the end of the season,did his chances no harm with a sensational performance for his struggling Swiss team.
The German seemed as surprised as anyone,although Monza is a super-fast track and unlike the others where the Sauber has struggled for downforce this season.
Nico Rosberg qualified sixth for Mercedes with Toro Rossos Daniel Ricciardo,who replaces compatriot Webber next season at Red Bull,seventh. McLarens Sergio Perez and Jenson Button will line up eighth and ninth with the team celebrating their 50th anniversary this weekend. Lotuss Kimi Raikkonen,whose title hopes are fast receding,qualified 11th.