Pirelli have brought the hard and medium compounds to Monza, the orange and white sidewalls respectively. Tyres continue to dominate the conversation, and FOM have picked up on that, providing some rather handy thermal imaging of the rubber during some of the earlier sessions.
Talking of the heat-related imagery, there's a great snap of Paul di Resta as he crashed into the barriers during practice this morning. Not too much damage done to the Force India, but it does put him on the back foot a little.
Lewis Hamilton's conversion rate of pole positions into wins is not so good, five poles and just the one victory. But that's a conversation for tomorrow!
Tweet from @clubforce: "Getting ready for qualifying - the crew are working hard to fix Paul's car in time for the start of the session... When Paul's VJM06 came back, we were able to establish that the cause of the accident was a failure of the right front brake disc."
Mercedes also had a bit of trouble on Nico Rosberg's car, which has put them behind schedule - Ross Brawn explains to the BBC that they had hoped to do some comparisons between the two cars but now have only one half of the data.
The closest inter-team battle for qualifying is between the two Williams boys, with Bottas inching ahead. On the other end of the scale, Vettel has outqualified Webber 11 times to 0, with similar stats favouring Nico Hülkenberg over Gutiérrez at Sauber.
The difficult relationship between Vettel and Webber was given another blow this weekend, as there was a leaving party of sorts for Mark, and Vettel declined to attend, preferring to sit on his own (and reportedly play games on his iPhone). They do say Angry Birds is addictive, but that's no excuse.
Tweet from @OfficialSF1Team: Sunny conditions for#Quali for our 2 boys. So let's push all together. Will need an extra effort to get to Q3!
We've got an official message suggesting "Blue headrest material must be used." Whatever that means.
Jenson Button gets settled in his car, via @McLarenF1.
Qualifying session 1 begins.
Esteban Gutiérrez heads out first, with Nico Rosberg following casually behind. Twenty minutes on the clock to decide the bottom six of the grid.
Felipe Massa sits snugly in his Ferrari, watching the timing screens, as the team wait for the optimum moment to join the fun.
Two Caterhams, two Marussia and Daniel Ricciardo head out. Already we've got a split on tyres, with the backmarkers on the medium compounds.
Nico Rosberg's radio informs him (and us) that he's going to do eight laps, he should push on 2, 6 and 8, and it's up to him if he wants to push on 4.
Rosberg's first time is a 1:27.562, with Gutiérrez knocking a second off that already. Chilton crosses the line three seconds slower.
Ron Dennis stalks the McLaren garage, black-shirted, arms-folded, listening intently to the radio chatter as his drivers wait to go out.
The Ferrari pair are following each other on track, Felipe Massa weaving his way ahead of Fernando Alonso.
Both Chilton and Di Resta have already missed the apex of turn 2. By now you'd hope the drivers were down with the limits of the track.
Times tumbling, with Vergne fastest momentarily before being beaten by Alonso with a 1:24.938.
Just Vettel and Pérez have yet to leave the garage.
Vergne missed the first chicane and had to weave his way through the barriers to get back on track. He's currently fastest at the moment.
Sergio Pérez has joined the action, just as Button crosses the line for a 1:32 time putting him last of those with lap times.
Vettel is still waiting it out.
Webber's reporting it's a bit hot on the left-hand side of the cockpit. It wouldn't be a surprise to find him with a KERS issue this weekend.
Half the session completed, the Toro Rosso duo return to the garages from first and third, with Alonso splitting the pair.
Team radio to Sergio Pérez: "Looks like there's two tenths to find in sector three, and a tenth in sector one."
Vettel finally exits the garage, hard tyres bolted on his car as he goes for his first run of the session.
Button improves his time to jump up to third, with Pérez not far behind in sixth.
Vettel's first lap time sees him third, but it's less then a tenth of a second splitting the top three.
Hamilton goes fastest with a 1:24.589, and Vettel goes even faster. The harder compounds are finally coming in to their own.
Rosberg's eight lap run plan isn't working out so well, he's currently 12th with some work to do.
The drop zone features the usual suspects, as well as both Force India drivers. Both are currently on laps that look set to improve, which will drop the Williams pair down.
Maldonado manages to haul himself out dropping Gutiérrez to 17th, but it's only one place up for Pastor.
Grosjean is currently sitting sixth, he runs wide off track which won't help the cause. Pic via @Lotus_F1Team.
Gutiérrez improves to 16th place, squeezing Maldonado down by just two thousandths of a second.
Qualifying session 1 ends.
It looks like Rosberg bolted on the medium tyres as he's now popped up to second, only just up on his teammate who set his time on the harder compound.
Maldonado puts in a great lap to haul himself out of the drop zone and way up to 12th.
Our updated Williams table then:
It's supremely close in the first session!
The fastest three in that session were Vettel, Rosberg and Hamilton.
Qualifying session 2 begins.
Paul di Resta and two Toro Rosso drivers head out early, and they're joined by Pastor Maldonado for an early stint.
Tweet from @OfficialSF1Team: the question is how many laps you need to bring the medium tyre to the best possible conditions for the ultimate lap in Q2.
Daniel Ricciardo, the talk of the F1 paddock, is on his first lap of the session. He's looking to get his fifth consecutive top ten grid position.
Ricciardo's early benchmark is a 1:24.746. Di Resta and Vergne slot in behind him for now.
Hülkenberg posts a P2 time as he's informed they have two laps of fuel. That's one down then.
Ricciardo returns to the pitlane as the track starts to get busy. Pérez and the two Red Bulls have yet to leave for this session.
The two Ferraris are following each other on track again, Massa in front, but Alonso sets the faster time to take P1 with a 1:24.227.
As Alonso crossed the line, it was through a plume of dust. Replays show it was Hamilton running massively wide out of the Parabolica that kicked up the spray.
Still no sign of the Red Bulls as many of the runners return to the pits for a tyre change and strategy assessment.
Hamilton is on a cleaner lap this time, but he's weaving around on the straights. He dives into the pit lane, and is still weaving as he pulls to a stop in front of his garage.
The drop zone currently features Pérez, Grosjean, Maldonado and Hamilton. Assuming the Red Bull pair are faster than that, it would also feature the two Force Indias.
Di Resta in tenth, and Pérez in eleventh have set exactly the same time - a 1:25.077 but the Force India is ahead for now.
Vettel and Webber finally head out for their first laps.
Mark Webber is halfway through his flying lap, he's down on the P1 time, but fast enough to climb from his current P16 place.
Round the Parabolica, and he crosses the line for the second fastest time, down 0.036 on Alonso.
Ricciardo posts the third fastest time, and now it's all eyes on Vettel as he crosses the line for P1 - 1:23.977.
All drivers are out on track at the moment except for Alonso, who is presumably happy with his second place time.
Less than 90 seconds of the session to go.
Team radio to Vettel: "Right, Sebastian, that's quick enough."
It's a supremely busy track now, traffic could be a problem as the battle to get into the top ten hots up.
Button has just dropped to 11th with Pérez 14th. Both Force Indias are also in the drop zone.
Qualifying session 2 ends.
Maldonado improves on his time, but it's only good enough for 12th place.
Di Resta doesn't improve, Pérez manages to haul himself to eighth. Grosjean fails to get up, as Button moves up to seventh.
Both Lotus drivers are out of qualifying, as well as Hamilton who clearly wasn't happy with the car after that massive off earlier in the session.
The fastest three in that session were Vettel, Alonso and Webber.
|14||A Sutil||Force India|
|16||P Di Resta||Force India|
It's a surprise to see both Lotus drivers dropping out so early, but makes Grosjean's lack of pace seem a little less worrying.
Both McLaren drivers are into the top ten, as well as both Toro Rossos as well.
Nico Hülkenberg had a great lap in that session, posting the fifth fastest time.
Incident involving Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Sutil under investigation - impeding.
Hamilton walks through the paddock looking very miserable - more so than usual!
Interview with Lewis Hamilton: "I just drove like an idiot, that's the worst I've driven for a long, long time. I messed it up for the team, I'm sorry for the team... I was quick in Q1, then I don't know... [Tomorrow] I'll do whatever I can from where I am but it's going to be tough."
Qualifying session 3 begins.
Nico Rosberg heads out first, and Daniel Ricciardo is close behind. Mark Webber also leaves the garage early.
The Ferrari pair leave the garage, nose to tail again. There's a potential for slip-streaming, but there's also the potential to mess it up.
Seven drivers out on track, Ricciardo returned to the garage, Pérez and Hülkenberg yet to appear.
A bit of teamwork, perhaps.
Rosberg's first lap was a 1:28.332 but it's okay he was told "We don't expect anything fantastic from this lap, it's a sighter lap, just one to get your eye in."
Webber shows what should really be happening, with a 1:23.990.
Vettel's first lap time is a 1:23.859 putting him firmly in P1. Meanwhile, Rosberg is being pushed back into the garage for some new tyres and finishing touches.
Just five lap times on the board at the moment, most leaving it for one flying lap.
Ricciardo crosses the line to start his first flying lap of the session. Rosberg also heads out to improve on his first.
Daniel runs a tiny bit wide and puffs up some dust, which will cost him a bit of time.
It's the fourth fastest time for Ricciardo, splitting the two Ferrari drivers.
All ten cars are now out on track as the clock ticks down under two minutes.
Alonso is instructed to keep up with Massa, but at the moment he's dropped back a little.
Team radio from Alonso: "Felipe's too fast."
Qualifying session 3 ends.
As Webber rounds the Parabolica, there's another plume of smoke, this time from Jean-Éric Vergne who runs massively wide.
Massa outqualifies Alonso, so that didn't go to plan. And they're both beaten by Nico Hülkenberg who qualifies third!
It's a Red Bull front row lockout, but the excitement, as always was behind them.
Pole position for Sebastian Vettel with a time of 1:23.755.
|1||S Vettel||Red Bull|
|2||M Webber||Red Bull|
|7||D Ricciardo||Toro Rosso|
|10||JE Vergne||Toro Rosso|
Big smiles from Hülkenberg as he joins the Red Bull pair for the top three photo opportunity.
Interview with Monisha Kaltenborn: "We couldn't believe it ourselves. We were hoping we could fight and get a bit further up than P10, but this was fantastic. He said it himself, it was the perfect lap and I think he did a great job. It's important because it gives us the kind of boost we need. we have to keep in mind this is only qualifying... but I hope we can take this positive and get a good result tomorrow. We know the car isn't as competitive as last year, but seeing what Nico can make of this, I think a lot is in there for us tomorrow."
Press Conference Quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "It's a special track. It's always nice to come back here. The memories of 2008 are great, I had another victory in 2011, but I think the first victory is always special. Generally this weekend the car was fantastic so far, better than we could expect.
"We had a strong pace yesterday that we could take into qualifying today. I had two good runs in the end. It's a bit of a surprise to have both cars on the front row at a place where historically we've had bad years. This year seems to work well and hopefully we'll have a great race from where we start tomorrow."
Press Conference Quotes - Mark Webber: "I said to the boys before the session, looking for a quali PB. It hasn't been the best track for me here, it's a nice step towards a good result tomorrow. I'm happy with qualifying, took the old boy a while to be ready for Q1 but got there in the end in the sessions where it counted...
Little bit of a tricky finish but it wouldn't have been enough to get Seb, he did a very good lap. We've got a few different people up here with us, which is good. It's a bit of a mixed up session, that can happen at Monza, it's not an easy track to get right. Looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Press Conference Quotes - Nico Hülkenberg: "Really a nice surprise to ourselves. Didn't expect it after a difficult Friday, yesterday we struggled trying out a few bits and bobs. The guys have done a great job to turn the car around and give me such a competitive car today. The car just got better and better, with the track improvement and the decision to go with one timed lap was the right call. A burning lap which made this nice surprise happen."
Tweet from @McLarenF1: It's P8 for Checo and P9 for Jenson. Just a hundredth of a second between them in
The top three give us a wave, via @XPBImages
Rumour has it that Fernando Alonso isn't that happy. A flurry of Italian on the radio during the session has possibly been translated as a rant to the team, and the BBC report he walked into the press scrum and turned on his heel and walked straight back out again.
Red Bull have set themselves up for a strong race tomorrow, but there could be some challenges from behind. There's even talk of rain which should spice things up.
There doesn't appear to have been a conclusion to the Hamilton/Sutil impeding investigation, but Lewis didn't sound like he cared one jot.
Thanks for joining me for this fun session, and do come back tomorrow for lap-by-lap action of what should be a brilliant Italian Grand Prix!
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