|Sebastian Vettel celebrates taking the pole position of the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011. (REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito)
MONZA, Italy -- Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel continued his supremacy in Formula One this season by winning Saturday's qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix.
Vettel recorded a lap time of one minute, 22.275 seconds around the 3.6-mile (5.793-kilometer), 11-turn Monza circuit for his 10th pole of the season and the 25th of his F1 career. He also maintained Red Bull Racing's perfect record of pole wins in the first 13 grand prix this year.
His time was nearly a half-second quicker than his closest competitor, Lewis Hamilton from McLaren.
"We thought it would be much closer than that," Vettel said. "I knew I had a bit more time in the car. I did the first lap on my own without anybody [on the track]. On the second run, I had one or two cars ahead of me, which always helps at Monza. We didn't expect to get the pole by that big of a margin. The track has not suit us well the past two years."
Vettel made F1 history at Monza in 2008 when he became the youngest race winner and pole sitter at age 21. The young German drove for Toro Rosso at the time. He moved over to Red Bull the following year.
Hamilton's lap in 1:22.725 earned him the second starting position.
"I didn't have another half a second," he said. "I think we could have run a couple more tenths on the lap. Sebastian was mega quick today."
His teammate, Jenson Button, qualified third (1:22.777).
"I'm looking forward to a good race," Button said. "[Hamilton and I] are both in great positions, and I think we can score some good points. It's not so important to be on pole position here like previous years, because you have DRS [Drag Reduction System], so we'll see."
Fernando Alonso placed his Ferrari fourth on the starting grid. Alonso won last year's race at Ferrari's home track.
Mark Webber from Red Bull qualified fifth, followed by Alonso's teammate Felipe Massa. Renault's Vitaly Petrov took the seventh position.
Mercedes GP drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were eighth and ninth, respectively, while Bruno Senna from Renault completed the top-10.
With seven races remaining on this year's calendar, Vettel holds a very comfortable 92-point lead over Webber. Alonso trails Vettel by 102 points. Button is 110 behind and Hamilton 113 in back of the leader.
Sunday's 53-lap Italian GP is scheduled to start at 8:00 a.m. EDT.