(Reuters) - Fernando Alonso cursed his bad luck after a mechanical failure denied the Formula One championship leader a possible pole position at Ferrari's home Italian Grand Prix on Saturday.
Alonso, who was shunted out of last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at the start, qualified in 10th place after a problem with his car's rear anti-roll bar left him with no chance of a competitive lap.
The Spaniard, 24 points clear of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel with eight races remaining, had no doubt that he would have been on pole otherwise, after setting the fastest times in both the first two parts of qualifying.
"Sometimes you never know, but this time in Q1 (the first phase) we were (one minute) 24.1 with a hard tire, we were 24.0 with a medium tire in Q2 with an easy lap and then in Q3 we know that we have always two or three tenths in the pocket.
"So I think maybe today was an easy pole position. It's never easy but today was a good chance and the car was performing well," he said.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton took pole instead with a fastest lap of 1:24.010.
Ferrari knew they did not have enough time to repair the car, so they sent Alonso out for one timed lap in the hope that others might save tires and not run. In the end, all the rest were faster.
The only consolation for the Spaniard was that it had happened on Saturday and not in Sunday's race, and that he won the European Grand Prix in Valencia from 11th place on the grid.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, watching from the garages, was equally disappointed that Ferrari had let such a chance slip through their fingers.
"Today was maybe one of the easiest situations in my career, which started in 1973, to get a pole position in Monza. Alonso was absolutely the quickest," he told reporters. "The car is extremely competitive. He was very quick yesterday and this morning. To start from 10th instead of first, we have to be disappointed. Especially after what happened in Spa."
Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa qualified third to give the Ferrari fans something to cheer about, although he has scored only 35 points this season and has not appeared on the podium since 2010.