F1 2011 Italian Grand Prix: McLaren Mercedes drivers chasing Monza one-two
PUBLISHED: 21:29 10 September 2011 | UPDATED: 14:22 11 September 2011
VODAFONE McLaren Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button head into Sunday’s 2011 Italian Grand Prix at Monza looking for the Formula 1 team’s first one-two of the season.
Herts-born Hamilton, 26, qualified second on the grid today (Saturday) behind Red Bull’s reigning F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel, who bagged yet another pole position.
Hamilton’s McLaren colleague Button will start one place further back in third spot, raising hopes of a double podium finish for the British team in Italy.
“Clearly, we’re very competitive – Jenson and I both qualified in the top three – but Seb [Vettel] was mega-quick today,” said Hamilton.
“In Q1 and Q2 we were pretty close to him, but he pulled out another half-second in Q3. It was an extremely good lap.
Recent Italian Grand Prix winners
2006: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
2007: Fernando Alonso (McLaren)
2008: Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
2009: Rubens Barrichello (Brawn)
2010: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
“Still, I’m happy to be starting on the front row – after Spa it gives me another opportunity to be right up there in the race and to bag a lot of points.
“Above all, I want to finish, of course; but I reckon I can get a good start from where I am, and, if there’s an chance to get into the lead, I’ll take it.”
As well as challenging for his first Italian victory, Hamilton thinks Button can join him on the Monza podium.
Tewin’s F1 hero added: “We’ve improved all weekend, and second and third is a good result for the team.
“In fact, we have a good chance to get our first one-two of 2011 tomorrow – I’m optimistic.”
Button is also confident of claiming a decent points haul in the final European race of the FIA F1 World Championship.
“Third is usually a pretty good place to start – it’s on the clean side of the track – but around here it can be pretty tough to find a way past the first two cars on the run down to the first corner,” said Button.
“But we’re focused on tomorrow, the team is in a good position, and we can definitely score some good points.
“I think we’ve correctly chosen the appropriate drag and downforce levels, and the right gearing too, so we should be happy with the work we’ve done so far this weekend.
“I don’t think Red Bull will have it all their own way tomorrow. I think we’ll be in the mix, which is what the fans want to see.”
Martin Whitmarsh, the team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, felt one of his drivers perhaps should have claimed pole position, rather than Vettel.
Hamilton’s team boss said: “It probably sounds a bit churlish for me to say that we’re a little disappointed today – because second and third is a pretty decent result when all’s said and done – but our car is performing very well here and it would have been nice if we could have bagged pole position.
“Lewis and Jenson had each posted a good, fast lap in Q3 – but, in their efforts to improve, pushing to the limit, they both made small mistakes in the first half of their laps, losing time in the process. We therefore elected to abort both their laps.
“So second and third it was, and second and third it is.”
Whitmarsh added: “As I say, pole position would have added the icing on the cake, but the reality is that, in P2 and P3, Lewis and Jenson are both very well placed to win tomorrow’s race.
“They’re both great racers, so that’s what they’ll both be aiming to do.”
"I don’t think Red Bull will have it all their own way tomorrow. I think we’ll be in the mix, which is what the fans want to see."
The 2011 Santander Italian Grand Prix starts at 1pm on Sunday.
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