Nico Rosberg secured pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix by just 0.59 seconds to his team-mate Lewis Hamilton after action all the way throughout each of the three qualifying sessions.
As Q1 got underway Mercedes opted for some clean track running after leaving the box early and queued, meaning they left on cold tyres but the clean air could provide them with an advantage as they start their timed laps. This tactic be very useful for the Mercedes drivers as if they can set a fast enough lap time early on they will be able to save a set of tyres and reduce your running in a busy Q1 session. Unlike the Mercedes pair and almost all of the rest of the field, the Red Bull drivers were the only ones not to head to the track as the session got underway.
Where most of the drivers who headed out immediately, Maldonado in his Lotus chose to start the session using the supersoft tyres. This allowed him to get a fast lap in early and set the pace with a 1:20.045 that put him top of the pile. But not for long as the Mercedes drivers weren’t going full throttle straight from their first lap, allowing Maldonado to set the pace. But as you would expect, they went quickest on their second lap with Nico leading Lewis by eight tenths.
Reasonably early on in the session we had the first crash of the day after Kyvat called in to report he had front wing damage on his Toro Rosso. This came after he exited the tunnel and the rear of his car stepped out on him. He was able to fight to regain control and managed to keep it out of the barrier at first. But after a spin he suffered impact with the barrier. Luckily all he suffered was front wing damage after hitting the wall as he could easily have suffered sever impact, similar to what we saw with Perez a few years back.
As Maldonado continued to ensure he makes it into Q2 on the super soft tyres he was never able to improve meaning he was still behind the Mercedes, in terms of position and out right pace. Not a good sign for the Lotus team, who have been improving recently, to have Maldonado in the top 3, but still over half a second behind the Mercedes, when they were running on the weaker compound tyres.
Like the rest of the field, when Vettel set his first fast lap it was clearly not a lap showing the all of his car but it was still able to put him in 6th position. Which he would managed to improve on with his following lap, which was still only able to put him in 5th.
Now as the session began to approach the end, teams began to head out on the super soft tyres. This helped Magnussen as he was then able to put his McLaren in 3rd. But showing how hard he was pushing, at end of lap that put him 3rd, he locked up the front tyres heavily into turn 1, leaving a black spot on the tyre. At Monaco this year you can easily hear the tyres screeching under lock ups with the reduced noise from this years power units.
Now as the session went into the final minuets, Massa allowed Ericsson to go past into Mirabeau, but Ericsson left it too late to break and went straight on into the barrier. This was unfortunate for Massa, after leaving plenty of track for Ericsson to go past, he had already turned into the corner expecting the Caterham to have gone through without crashing. But this meant that both ended up with their front wings in the barrier. Off camera, Massa was able to continue on track, well slightly. Despite continuing from the crash at Mirabeau he ended up stopping down at turn 8 marking an end to his qualifying.
Massa had manage to put in a time that would have got him through to Q2 but as he couldn’t get back to the pits under his own power he was unable to continue in qualie and joined Gutierrez, Sutil, Bianchi, Chilton, Kobayashi and Ericsson out in Q1.
After qualifying had finished it was announced that Marcus Ericsson will start from the pit lane in tomorrow’s race after the collision with Felipe Massa during qualifying.
Now onto Q2 where once again it was the Mercedes hitting the track first. But this time Rosberg was straight out onto the supersoft compound tyres and again using the first timed lap to continue getting temperature into the tyres. And like in Q1, by doing this it allowed someone else to take the early top spot, this time it went to the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg, before he was pipped down the order by Ricciardo and Magnussen.
Moments later the Mercedes set their first flying lap with Rosberg going top by 0.035s. It was in the final sector is where Lewis was loosing the time to Nico after setting similar times in the first two sectors.
As Kimi Raikkonen attacked the track to get up the leaderboard he was almost attacking too much and found his Ferrari millimetres from the barrier on a lap that saw him move up to 4th place. Clearly trying to get every bit he can out of the car and attack the barriers to give him the best line.
In the early stages of Vettel’s Q2 session his laps weren’t going as he would have been liking. Loosing a lot if time of his flying lap found him backing out. But next time round he attacked the track as much as he could, getting out of the drop zone and up to 4th. Still only good enough to be behind the Mercedes and his team-mate.
As the end of Q2 approached the end, Hamilton was out on track pushing to take the top spot away from his team-mate. Of which he was able to do for the first time in qualifying by 0.111s after setting the fastest sector times in the first and second. Rosberg opted top head to the pits and not challenge his team-mate. But who would join Massa in the drop zone at the end of the session?
Grosjean was one of the drivers sat in the drop zone facing an end to his session, along with his team-mate Maldonado, the Williams of Bottas, the McLaren of Button and the Force India of Hulkenberg. But as all of them pushed to get into Q3, none of them where able to improve. Meaning the rookies of Kyvat and Magnussen make it to Q3 at Monaco.
And in Q3 it was more of the same at the start with Mercedes opting to go slow on their first timed laps, allowing the Red Bulls and Ferrari’s to take an early lead. But once the Mercedes had the throttle down, it was Rosberg leading from Hamilton again, this time by 0.059s.
At the start of the session is was Sergio Perez in his Force India first out on track but at the end of the first sets of times it was Rosberg leading from: Hamilton, Ricciardo, Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, Vergne, Magnussen, Perez and Kyvat.
Once the drivers started to leave the pits for their second stint it was once again Perez leaving the pits first. Joint by the Ferrari’s on track and with just three and a half minuets remaining, everyone in the top 10 shoot out was back out on track.
By the end of the first sector, Raikkonen was setting a new personal best but still found himself 0.6s behind the Mercedes. Showing Ferrari still have a lot of work to do to catch the Mercs as he fell to 0.7s behind by the end of the middle sector. On a personal best lap he ended up moving up to 6th, loosing a staggering 0.7s in the final sector, ending his lap 1.4s behind Rosberg.
But for Rosberg, his qualifying was soon over after locking up into Mirabeau. He had gone in too deep, he was left with no space to turn around and with the yellow flags out it meant Hamilton went through not at full speed and backed out of his lap giving Rosberg pole in Monaco.
It may be a hollow pole for Rosberg after securing it via his competitors backing out. But once he pulled his car into the pit lane the joy was clear to be seen with Nico as he did take pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix. Something Lewis would have been hoping to achieve, and the way things ended clearly had got on Lewis’ nerves.
Hopefully the provisional grid that follows remains the same as the race stewards will be investigating some of the action from today’s qualifying now that the sessions have concluded.
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:17.900||1:17.233||1:16.384||22|
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:18.383||1:17.074||1:16.547||25|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:18.108||1:17.755||1:18.327||26|
|11||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:18.432||1:17.846||20|
|16||19||Felipe Massa||Williams-Mercedes||1:18.209||No time||10|
|Q1 107% Time||1:22.985|
Now you have seen the provisional grid for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix, who do you expect to take the win? For me, I personally believe Rosberg is in with a great shout of taking the win. But that is providing he has a better start than Lewis, a clean race, no traffic in the pit lane or any other variable, of which there are many. So clearly it is still all to play for so I’ll see you tomorrow for the Monaco Grand Prix.