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September 13, 2009

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Hamilton pips Sutil for Italian GP pole

MCLAREN'S Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton seized a last-gasp pole position for the Italian Grand Prix from Force India's Adrian Sutil yesterday.

"It was a very close qualifying session and I'm very happy to see Adrian up here," said the Briton of his friend and former Formula Three teammate. "I don't think we anticipated being as quick as we are this week, so it's a bonus for all the team."

The pole was Hamilton's second of the season, second in three races and 15th in 48 starts.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen will line up in third place for today's race at the Monza circuit with fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen next to him in a McLaren. Unlike Sutil, both will have the benefit of a boost at the start from their KERS energy recovery systems.

Championship leader Jenson Button qualified sixth, with Brawn GP teammate and closest title rival Rubens Barrichello alongside him in fifth place.

Second session

"The car felt good and that's important. It's not just qualifying, it's the race," said Button, who had been quickest in the second session.

The Red Bulls of Germany's Sebastian Vettel and Australian Mark Webber, respectively third and fourth in the championship, qualified ninth and 10th, respectively.

Britain's Button is 16 points clear of Brazilian Barrichello with five races remaining.

Sutil's grid position was the highest of the German's career, with fast-improving Force India getting both its Mercedes-powered cars into the final session of qualifying for the first time.

Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi, replacing compatriot Giancarlo Fisichella at the team, qualified seventh for his first race since he was at Toro Rosso in 2007.

"This is a great moment, a great day for me," said Sutil. "The car is amazing, really quick, unbelievable."

Fisichella, who handed Force India a stunning pole position in Belgium last month and finished second for the team's first points, will start 14th in his first race for champion Ferrari after crashing in final practice.


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