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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Vettel becomes youngest F1 pole winner

Youngest ever Formula One driver to drive a Grand Prix. Youngest to lead a race in Formula One history. Youngest driver to score points in a Grand Prix.

Now you can add youngest to take pole, as Sebastian Vettel took advantage of Monza’s best Spa impersonation to hand STR its maiden pole position in a wet, wet, wet qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix.

“Unbelievable, incredible,” he said. “I was joking with my engineers. We were saying if it is wet, then we have to go for pole position and unbelievable.”

Vettel’s time of 1:37.555 was enough to keep McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen at bay. The Finn was the only thing standing in the way of a Red Bull family affair, as Mark Webber put his RB4 in third and Sebastian Bourdais picked up fourth in the second Toro Rosso.

“Obviously it is still a Red Bull team in Toro Rosso, so obviously congratulations to those guys,” Webber said. “It is all the same family if you like, so congratulations to Sebastian on his first pole.”

It was the second day rain disrupted proceedings at the Italian circuit. A wet morning practice session was led by Timo Glock, and rain was forecasted to continue through the day. Indeed, it became heavy just minutes before qualifying.

It was the McLarens who led Q1, as the Hondas were joined by Kazuki Nakjima, Adrian Sutil, and Piquet in the drop zone.

There were spins and aquaplaning a-plenty, but Vettel showed his pace in Q2. Not so lucky were championship contenders Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica all struggled and were eliminated. Veterans David Coulthard and Giancarlo Fisichella found themselves in unusual company at session’s end.

“In Q2 it was very difficult. I set the time quite early,” Vettel explained. “I was lucky to get a clean lap and I put it all together in this lap and then towards the end of the session there was more and more rain, so the people waiting more and more to go out had a bit of bad luck.”

The young German did not let up in Q3, and after the day’s work was done there was much celebrating for the Faenza squad.

“What can I say? I never dreamt of being on pole. Unbelievable,” Vettel said. “This is our home Grand Prix. There are two Italian teams, the bigger one is Scuderia Ferrari but I think now the people know the small one, Scuderia Toro Rosso, so it is unbelievable.”

Another surprise was Nico Rosberg in fifth for Williams, ahead of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso was seventh, between Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock in the Toyotas, and Nick Heidfeld was the best of the BMW Saubers in 10th.

So the grid is well shaken for Sunday’s race. More rain, the great equalizer, is in the forecast. It should make for some interesting strategies.

Provisional starting grid
  1. Vettel, Toro Rosso
  2. Kovalainen, McLaren
  3. Webber, Red Bull
  4. Bourdais, Toro Rosso
  5. Rosberg, Williams
  6. Massa, Ferrari
  7. Trulli, Toyota
  8. Alonso, Renault
  9. Glock, Toyota
  10. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
  11. Kubica, BMW Sauber
  12. Fisichella, Force India
  13. Coulthard, Red Bull
  14. Raikkonen, Ferrari
  15. Hamilton, McLaren
  16. Barrichello, Honda
  17. Piquuet, Renault
  18. Nakajima, Williams
  19. Button, Honda
  20. Sutil, Force India
Pantano wraps up GP2 championship

Jordan driver Giorgio Pantano locked up the GP2 championship, finishing 10th in the penultimate race in front of his home crowd at Monza.

Sunday's sprint race remains, but Pantano's lead is now insurmountable for challenger Bruno Senna.

“I really wanted to get this title as it was my last chance to show what I am really capable of, and in this way find a way back into F1,” F1-Live reports the Racing Engineering driver said.
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