Vettel grabs pole as rivals falter in Italian GP qualifying

Sebastian Vettel topped all three qualifying sessions on Saturday to grab pole position ahead of Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, with Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber second fastest and Sauber's Nico Hulkenburg grabbing a surprise third place on the starting grid.

Vettel picked up where he left off in Friday's practice sessions by dominating qualifying, and grabbing his fourth pole of the season, his first since June's Canadian Grand Prix.

The German clocked a fastest time of 1:23.755 to secure first on the grid at Monza, with his outgoing Australian team-mate Webber the only other driver to go under 1:24 minutes, an ominous sign that Red Bull could well blitz Sunday's race.

Vettel's title rival Lewis Hamilton floundered in his last lap of Q2, with the Brit sensationally flopping to 12th, the first time he has failed to start in the top 10 in 67 races.

The Mercedes ace was devastated after his failure, but was pensive about his poor performance, blaming himself entirely for crashing out.

He said: "I drove like an idiot. It's the worst I've driven for a long, long time. I'm just sorry for the team.

"I just didn't drive well, I was quick in Q1 but now I'll try and do whatever I can tomorrow but it's gonna be tough."

Hamilton wasn't alone as a title challenger that struggled, with Lotus' 2007 World Drivers' champion Kimi Raikkonen also going out in Q2, only able to muster 11th fastest as he attempts to gain ground on Vettel and Fernando Alonso in the overall standings.

Alonso had troubles of his own, with more angst directed at his Ferrari team over the radio, where the Spaniard appeared to call them "idiots". However, due to the similarity between the words "idiot" and "genius" in Italian, it's unclear just how exasperated he was with his technical crew.

The Ferrari number one driver had looked imperious in Q2, second fastest overall, but was pipped by team-mate Felipe Massa in the final session, with the Brazilian grabbing a fine 4th place, one ahead of his frustrated stable-mate in 5th.

Hulkenburg seemed as surprised as anyone to have nabbed 3rd from the Ferraris, in Sauber's first top 10 start of the season, with the onus now on the German to carry his sensational performance into the race.

Nico Rosberg will start 6th, with Daniel Ricciardo good enough for 7th, his Toro Rosso team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne rounding off the top 10 behing the McLaren's of Sergio Perez and Jenson Button, who mustered 8th and 9th respectively in the week of the team's 50th anniversary.

It was, as is often the case, the Red Bulls that dominated the day and, with many of defending champion Vettel's rivals faltering, it's going to be tough for the chasing pack to do anything but admire the disappearing rear wing of the German as he romps to another victory.

Q1

Out: M Chilton (22), J. Bianchi (21), Pic (20), G. van der Garde (19), V. Bottas (18), E. Gutierrez (17)

Q2

P. Di Resta (16), P. Maldonado (15), A Sutil (14), R. Grosjean (13), L. Hamilton (12), K. Raikkonen (11)

Q3

(1) S. Vettel, (2) M. Webber

(3) N. Hulkenburg, (4) F. Massa

(5) F. Alonso, (6) N. Rosberg

(7) D Ricciardo, (8) S. Perez

(9) J. Button, (10) J-E. Vergne

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