F1 2011 Italian Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton battles for pole at Monza

PUBLISHED: 08:28 10 September 2011 | UPDATED: 14:30 10 September 2011

Lewis Hamilton on track at Monza [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

Lewis Hamilton on track at Monza [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]


FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton bids for pole position in 2011 Italian Grand Prix qualifying this lunchtime at the historic Monza circuit.

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)

The Herts-born Vodafone McLaren Mercedes ace was quickest in first practice in Italy on Friday.

After also running Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel close in P2, Hamilton is looking for a strong grid position in qualifying today (Saturday), with DRS (Drag Reduction System) set to be a major factor.

Former F1 world champion Hamilton said: “I’ve never won at Monza and I’d love to get a good result this year.

“I`m particularly looking forward to qualifying, because I think DRS will make a huge difference to our laptimes, and I really want to get the maximum out of the car in quali – and then look forward to a strong race, of course.

"With unlimited use in quali, and those four long straights, I think qualifying’s going to be pretty intense."

Lewis Hamilton on DRS at Monza

“With unlimited use in quali, and those four long straights, I think qualifying’s going to be pretty intense: we’ll be 20km/h faster at four key points of the circuit, so our quali times are going to be much faster than in the race. That should be pretty exciting.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s grand prix, Hamilton, 26, added: “For the race, you’ll also need the downforce, though, because you’ll want to be quick enough out of the second Lesmo and Parabolica to be in with a chance of challenging for position down the following straight.”

Getting the balance right between drag and downforce is crucial at Monza and the two DRS zones will add to the excitement in the race, as Hamilton’s McLaren colleague Jenson Button was quick to point out.

“For the second time this season, we’ll have two distinct DRS zones, with two potential passing opportunities,” said Button.

“The first zone’s going to be interesting because it’s always been very tough to challenge for position under braking for Ascari – the track’s pretty narrow and it’s a fast entry – so I’ll be really interested to see how well DRS will work into that corner – we might see some pretty spectacular moves!

“I think the more conventional passing opportunity will come from the second DRS zone, getting as close as possible into Parabolica, holding on through the corner – which won’t be straightforward – and then deploying DRS down the start/finish straight before, hopefully, passing into Turn One.

“The DRS is going to be a pretty major asset for a following car, and it might shape the race in some really interesting ways.”

Martin Whitmarsh, the team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, is looking forward to the final European race of the season before the concluding flyaways.

He said: “Despite its age, Monza certainly never gets any easier: selecting gear ratios to cope with the demands of DRS through both qualifying and the race will be tricky.

“At Spa, the DRS ban through Eau Rouge meant that maximum velocity at the top of the hill was pretty much the same through qualifying and the race.

“For Monza, there are no limitations, so it will be very different, and getting it right will require a lot of thought and experimentation.”

Italian Grand Prix qualifying starts at 1pm.

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