Ferrari, Alonso, celebrate pole at Monza

Monza (Italy): Two-time champion Fernando
Alonso delighted Ferrari`s home fans today when he claimed
pole position for tomorrow`s Italian Grand Prix with a
dazzling last-gasp lap.

The 29-year-old, making his first competitive appearance
for Ferrari on the team`s home soil, revelled in the moment as
he delivered a best lap of one minute 21.962 seconds at the
famous old Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.

"It`s a fantastic place, to have pole position in Italy
for Ferrari," said Alonso, who was the only driver to break
the 1:22 barrier in a relatively predictable qualifying
session that saw the trio of leading teams battling for
supremacy with Ferrari edging out McLaren ahead of the Red

It was Alonso`s maiden pole for Ferrari, the team`s first
pole this season and the 19th of Alonso`s career. It was the
scarlet scuderia`s first pole in 30 races since 2008.

The Spaniard added, "It was a nice surprise. When I
stopped in parc ferme and they say on the radio, `you are
first, but Jenson is pink in the second sector`, I thought we
would be second. But today was different."

Defending champion Jenson Button was second fastest for
McLaren in 1:22.084 ahead of Alonso`s Ferrari team-mate Felipe

"I`m happy to be second. It`s the first time on the front
row this season so a step forward. It`s a good start and
hopefully it will be a competitive race," the Briton

Next came Australian Mark Webber of Red Bull, Lewis
Hamilton in the second McLaren and sixth-placed German
Sebastian Vettel in the second Red Bull.

Germans Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg were seventh and
eighth for Mercedes and Williams respectively with Pole Robert
Kubica ninth for Renault and Brazilian Rubens Barrichello 10th
in the second Williams.

On another beautiful day in northern Italy, with the
track temperature at 39 degrees Celsius and the air on 26
degrees, the Ferrari garage was the centre of the
photographers` attention before qualifying began as the film
star Hugh Grant joined Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo
in the team`s garage.

The first mini-session was predictable enough with the
usual suspects topping the times - the two Ferraris and the
two McLarens - and the usual suspects at the other end of the
pit-lane falling out of contention.

Those eliminated were the two Lotus men Italian Jarno
Trulli and Finn Heikki Kovalainen, followed by Force India`s
Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi, German Timo Glock and his Virgin
team-mate Brazilkian Lucas di Grassi and the two Hispania
drivers Brazilian Bruno Senna and Japanese Sakon Yamamoto.

The Q1 was notable, too, for an incident in which Russian
Vitaly Petrov drove out of the pit lane and directly into the
path of Glock, a mistake which was the subject of a stewards`

In Q2, it was much more of the same with, sadly, but
interestingly, the sight of the seven-times champion and
Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher being knocked out in 12th
spot and failing to make the top ten shootout for Mercedes.

Schumacher, 41, was truly put in the shade by the speed
of the dominant Ferrari of Alonso who was more than a second
quicker at the front of the field ahead of Button and Hamilton
with Massa fourth.

Bureau Report