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Alonso takes pole on Italian GP debut for Ferrari

 Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, center, celebrates after setting the pole position for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix next to teammate F...
 Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, left, celebrates after setting the pole position for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix as  teammate Ferrari...
 Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain gives the thumb-up sign after setting the pole position for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix, flanked by hi...
 McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button of Britain waves after setting the second fastest time in the qualifying session for Sunday's Formula One Grand...
 Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain gives the thumb-up sign after setting the pole position for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Monza r...
 Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain celebrates after setting the pole position for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Monza racetrack, in ...

Italy F1 Gp Auto Racing

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, center, celebrates after setting the pole position for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix next to teammate F...

Italy F1 Gp Auto Racing

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, left, celebrates after setting the pole position for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix as teammate Ferrari...

Italy F1 Gp Auto Racing

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain gives the thumb-up sign after setting the pole position for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix, flanked by hi...

Italy F1 Gp Auto Racing

McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button of Britain waves after setting the second fastest time in the qualifying session for Sunday's Formula One Grand...

Italy F1 Gp Auto Racing

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain gives the thumb-up sign after setting the pole position for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Monza r...

Italy F1 Gp Auto Racing

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain celebrates after setting the pole position for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Monza racetrack, in ...

Fernando Alonso marked his Italian Grand Prix debut for Ferrari on Saturday by taking pole position for the Formula One race.
The two-time world champion from Spain set the pace with a lap of 1 minute, 21.962 seconds for his 19th career pole. It was the Italian team's first qualifying win since the 2008 Brazilian GP _ a span of 30 races _ and its first at Monza since 2004.
"It was a nice surprise," Alonso said. "A much better feeling. This was a great achievement by the team. We proved that we were quick."
Defending world champion Jenson Button of McLaren finished just over one-tenth of a second slower to start on the front row for the first time in 23 races. Alonso and Button need strong showings in Sunday's 53-lap race to stay close in the championship fight.
"Hopefully this race begins a new championship for us," Alonso said.
Felipe Massa of Ferrari and Mark Webber of Red Bull fill out the second row. F1 leader Lewis Hamilton of McLaren starts fifth after opting for a lower downforce package than teammate Button, and the lack of the aerodynamic F-duct part on his car ultimately cost him.
"It was the wrong choice," Hamilton said. "I couldn't pick up the pace, I couldn't find any more time."
Sebastian Vettel was sixth for Red Bull, which had its worst qualifying showing of the season after having taken pole in 12 of the first 13 races this season. The Austrian team expected Monza to be one of the toughest circuits for its cars.
"It wasn't too bad qualifying for us," Webber said. "At least it doesn't take much for somebody to have a challenging afternoon here (tomorrow)."
Alonso, who crashed out of the Belgian GP two weeks ago, has the best shot at moving up the standings after dominating the last qualifying with an electrifying run.
"Tomorrow, we need a podium _ minimum _ to remain in the fight," said Alonso, who won in Monza for McLaren in 2007. "There's not big pressure or stress to win the race but we know we cannot afford another DNF."
Button opted for a high downforce setup that ensured he has a good chance of making up the points gap to Hamilton, who won in Belgium after his McLaren teammate was knocked out at Spa by Vettel.
"It's very important _ I have the trophy at home and I want it to stay there," Button said. "It turned around very quickly for us in Spa (and) I think it can all turn around again very quickly (again)."
Hamilton, the 2008 F1 champion, has 182 points to lead Webber by three. Vettel is third with 151 points, and faces a difficult task Sunday after his worst qualifying performance of the season. Button is next with 147 points, six more than Alonso.
Hamilton hoped his straight-line speed would make up for his slower pace around corners.
"I'm still in a reasonably decent position. I think we can still fight for some points there," the British driver said.
Nico Rosberg of Mercedes was seventh in qualifying ahead of Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg and Robert Kubica of Renault, while 2009 Italian GP winner Rubens Barrichello starts 10th for Williams.
Michael Schumacher will drive from 12th in his first race at Monza since winning his fifth Italian GP title four years ago.
While Monza has been a turning point for Schumacher in winning several of his F1 titles, Alonso was reluctant to compare.
"Trying to do what Michael did for Ferrari would be a mistake," Alonso said. "I try to do my best in this championship and, hopefully, here is a good point to change where this championship goes. Let's try to take our opportunities."


Updated : 2020-12-01 10:37 GMT+08:00