Fernando Alonso was among the fastest during much of Saturday's qualifying session for the Grand prix of Italy at Monza Sunday but when time ran out, he was the slowest of the ten drivers racing for pole position.
Lewis Hamilton will start from pole, with his McLaren-Mercedes teammate Jenson Button going offf second. Felipe Massa did much to earn himself a job somewhere in F1 in 2013 with a wonderful third-place qualifying position and Paul Di Resta qualified fourth for Force India-Mercedes, although a penalty for a gear-box change will send him off ninth Sunday.
Michael Schumacher outqualified his much younger teammate, Nico Rosberg, when he set fifth fastest time with Rosberg two places behind him in seventh.
World Champion Sebastien Vettel qualified sixth in his Red Bull-Renault but his teammate, Mark Webber, missed out on final qualifying and will start 11th.
Kimi Raikkonen was eighth for Renault and Kamui Kobayashi qualified ninth fastest for Sauber-Ferrari.
And then there was Alonso.
Ferrari reported that there was a problem with the anti-rollbar feature while TV commentator David Coulthard speculated there might have been a problem with Alonso's tires.
Others suspect that Ferrari out-strategized themselves and the planned, last-second, super flyer to snatch pole position didn't materalize because they'd put all their eggs in that one basket and Alonso simply couldn't pull it off.
Pastor Maldonado could only qualify 12th for Williams-Renault but will start 22nd because of penalties.
It was the 63rd front-row sweep for McLaren, a record in Formula One.
Pos Driver Car Time Gap 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.010s 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.133s + 0.123s 3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m24.247s + 0.237s 4. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.304s + 0.294s*** 5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m24.540s + 0.530s 6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m24.802s + 0.792s 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.833s + 0.823s 8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m24.855s + 0.845s 9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.109s + 1.099s 10. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.678s + 1.668s Q2 cut-off time: 1m24.742s Gap * 11. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m24.809s + 0.567s 12. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m24.820s + 0.578s**** 13. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.901s + 0.659s 14. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m25.042s + 0.800s 15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.312s + 1.070s 16. Jerome d'Ambrosio Lotus-Renault 1m25.408s + 1.166s 17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.441s + 1.199s Q1 cut-off time: 1m25.834s Gap ** 18. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m26.382s + 2.207s 19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m26.887s + 2.712s 20. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.039s + 2.864s 21. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.073s + 2.898s 22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m27.441s + 3.266s 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m27.629s + 3.454s 24. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes
Last night at Richmond, Va., Kevin Harvick won the Nationwide Series Race.
In the all-important qualifying for Saturday's night's Sprint Cup race to set the field for the Chase for the Championship, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won pole while Jeff Gordon will start second, the best starting position of the seven drivers vying for the last starting spot in the playoffs.