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Italian GP: A walk in the park for McLaren at Monza


By Berthold Bouman

McLaren showed their supremacy today at Monza during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix. Although during the Friday practice sessions the differences were just a few thousandths of a second, this time Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button showed who really rules Monza: McLaren and not Ferrari.

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton

Felipe Massa was third but was a quarter of a second off the time of Hamilton, Michael Schumacher was half-a-second slower and current World Champion Sebastian Vettel was almost 0,8 seconds slower.

Hamilton who was eliminated by Grosjean at Spa last week, while his team mate Button went on to win the race, is this time on pole and he praised the McLaren team, “This is a fabulous day for the whole team — they’ve done a fantastic job to get our car into this position, so I want to say a huge thanks to them. The whole Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team deserves this result.”

At least he doesn’t have to worry about Grosjean pushing him off the track, but it is nevertheless going to be a close battle tomorrow, reckons the 2008 World Champion, “It’s going to be a fast, tough race tomorrow. Jenson and the Ferraris are very quick, but we’ve got a good car and a good set-up, and we’re in the best possible position to score maximum points tomorrow.”

A few statistics: this is McLaren’s 152nd pole position and Hamilton’s 23rd pole, McLaren’s fifth pole of the season and the third consecutive pole as McLaren was also fastest at Hungary and Belgium.

Button just wasn’t fast enough to beat Hamilton, the difference today was 0.123 seconds, and he commented, “It’s been a really good day for us. Congratulations to Lewis and the whole team — they’ve done a fabulous job to get us in this position and we’ve got to build on that tomorrow. Happily, we’re in the best position possible: the past few races have really shown the strength of our car.”

Button thinks McLaren won’t run into problems again tomorrow, and is not too worried about the start, “I don’t think tomorrow’s race will be all about the start — you want to get a good run into Turn One, admittedly, but if you try to plan something too ambitious, it often doesn’t work.

“There haven’t been any first-corner incidents at the front of the grid for the last couple of years here, so Lewis and I will just be focusing on getting our two cars out of the first corner in front of all the others.”

A lot of work in the garage, but it paid off today

Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh was elated with today’s result and also praised his team, “I’m extremely proud of the entire Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, all of whose members have worked incredibly hard to develop our car so well over the year. Today’s front-row lock-out is an appropriate reward for all their efforts.”

“Both Lewis and Jenson drove immaculately, capitalising on our car’s impressive pace in sectors one and two, and optimising its capabilities also in sector three, where it was slightly less competitive relative to our opposition. Doing that may have looked easy for them, but it wasn’t. In fact they both had to keep their nerve towards the end of their fastest laps. Well done, boys.”

About the race on Sunday he was short, “Tomorrow’s race will be fast and hard, too. Bring it on!”

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