At the end of a very closely contested qualifying session for the 2012 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton took pole position while his teammate Jenson Button took second on the grid. Hamilton’s fastest time was a blistering 1:24.010, just ahead of Button’s 1:24.133.

A surprise strong performance came from Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who rounded off the top three with a fastest lap around the 3.6-mile Autodromo Nazionale Monza in 1:24.247. Sadly, current points leader Fernando Alonso, also of Ferrari, was unlucky: having been at the top of the times in the first and second qualifying sessions, the Spaniard was unable to do a quick enough lap in third session because of a fault with his car. He will start at 10th on the grid tomorrow.

Rounding out the rest of the top ten grid positions are Force India’s Paul di Resta on fourth, followed by Mercedes-AMG’s Michael Schumacher, Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel, Mercedes-AMG’s other driver Nico Rosberg, Lotus’ Kimi Räikkönen and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi.

Note, neither McLaren drivers have won at Monza, a track where six of the last ten races have been won from pole, so this year could be the one to change the record for either driver.

Going into tomorrow’s race, Fernando Alonso leads the Drivers’ Championship with a tally of 164 points. He is followed by Sebastian Vettel in second place with 140 points and fellow Red Bull Racing’s other driver Mark Webber in third with 132 points.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing remains the clear leader with 272 points, followed by McLaren on 218 points and Lotus in third with 207 points.

Currently, the weather forecast for the Italian Grand Prix is warm temps, partially cloudy skies and just a slight chance of rain late in the day, but things could certainly change come tomorrow.