Qualifying success for Lewis Hamilton at the 2015 Formula One Monaco Grand Prix.
Around the narrow streets of Monte Carlo, pole is always important. And for tomorrow’s Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton will kick the race off from pole position. He will be joined on the front row by Nico Rosberg after the pair locked out the top slots in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, but a lock up in Q3 cost Nico the chance to challenge for pole.
Ahead of qualifying, Sebastian Vettel rocketed his Prancing Horse around the principality to top the final practice session ahead of Rosberg. Nico incidentally could also only come home in second during FP2 after rain prevented running for almost an hour. But his worse session was FP1 where Rosberg struggled to set any pace and slumped down the order.
But come qualifying, the track went green and the session was underway with Will Stevens leading a queue away from the compact pit lane and onto the famous streets. Unfortunately for Will, his pace setting time was shattered by the Toro Rosso duo as the rookie line up proved their car had serious pace around Monaco.
Yet even the pace they’ve shown all weekend was understandably not up to the fight when the Silver Arrows came shooting across the line. As now Hamilton was the man setting the pace as he broke into the 1:16’s on the soft tyres while Vettel lingered one second behind in third.
At the other end of the table, Fernando Alonso remained in the garage as the other cleaned up the track. But after a short run on the soft tyres, his team-mate Jenson Button was only able to hold P15. Jenson then returned to the track alongside his team-mate on the supersoft tyres but by then had fallen into the drop zone.
With just over five minutes left of Q1, Alonso jumped up the order on his first flying lap to move into the top 10. But his position began to slide when Daniil Kvyat came across the line for P5. Worse for Fernando was the improvements Jenson found to go half a second clear of his team-mate.
But the situation was more grim for Williams with both drivers now in the drop zone as the final three minutes began.
Luckily for Massa, he was able to move into eleventh and slot between the McLaren’s, but Max Verstappen was the one really flying now. A young racing driver who has never driven around Monaco was lapping the circuit so quick, he moved within two tenths of the pace setting Rosberg. Even if the Toro Rosso was using the faster, supersoft tyres.
Unfortunately for the other Williams driver, Valtteri Bottas found himself out of qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix in the first knock out round. On what would have been his final flying lap, he had not found enough pace during the first sector before backing out of his lap. However this meant he was out of Q1 in P17, behind Nasr but in front of Ericsson, Stevens and Merhi.
Moving on to the second knock out round, the circuit went from silent to roaring as the field rushed back onto the streets. Most opted for new supersoft tyres at this stage including both Mercedes and Ferrari drivers who kept them in reserve during Q1. However some were using old supersofts including Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat after a strong Q1 outing for the team.
But the early pace setter this time round was Sergio Perez as the Mexican set the benchmark time. His first time was actually one second faster than Vettel, but by the time the Ferrari came back round Ricciardo moved into P1 before Seb slashed the Aussie’s time.
Shortly after Seb posted his improved lap, the first man out of Q2 pulled to the side of the circuit. Unfortunately for McLaren, the man out of Q2 was Fernando Alonso who parked his now grey car after posting his opening timed lap which was only good enough to be the base of the timesheet.
As for the top order, Rosberg had now moved clear of Vettel for P1. But Hamilton struggled with grip and to find a gap on first full Q2 run, before ending his lap seven tenths down on Rosberg with an identical time to Vettel. The championship leader swiftly returned to the garage for a break and to reassess the tyre pressured before hitting the circuit once more.
As the session entered the final three minutes, all 14 drivers were back on track with brand new supersoft tyres. For Kyvat, the fresh boots were certainly worthwhile as he moved into the top four before returning to his garage. As for Hulkenberg, he remained at the bottom with Alonso, while Perez pipped into the top 10.
Come the chequered flag, Rosberg locked up into turn one and brought out the yellow flags. This was the worse timing for Button as he approached the corner for his final lap but was forced to slow down, meaning he was unable to improve and found himself out of qualifying. It was annoying and “painful” for him to fall at this stage as he believed it would be “easy” to get into the top 10 had there not been the yellow flag.
Also out at this stage was Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Massa and Alonso with Romain’s elimination and Maldonado’s progression to Q3 the first time Pastor has had the better of his team mate in qualifying this year.
But come the main event, Q3, rain had started to spit over the principality and Hamilton left the pit lane first. Directly behind him was the pace setter from Q2, Nico Rosberg, while everyone else trickled out behind.
Over the first sector, Nico held a one hundredth of a second advantage to his team mate, but Rosberg lost two tenths to Hamilton in the second. Come the finish line Rosberg lost a few more tenths to end the lap four tenths back.
As for Perez, he went full throttle and set the benchmark time almost three seconds faster than the Mercedes duo who took their time getting heat into the tyres.
But next time round, Hamilton stormed into provisional pole with a 1:15.304 which Rosberg could only get within one tenth of but not faster than. Behind the Silver Arrows came Sebastian Vettel and the Renault powered Red Bull’s and Torro Rosso’s while Raikkonen lingered down in eighth.
Before all had returned to their garages, Perez slotted in between the Red Bull’s and Torro Rosso’s for sixth, but Maldonado and Raikkonen remained far down the order. Frustratingly for Perez, that would be his only Q3 run due to not having anymore fresh supersoft tyres.
As for the others, they rushed back onto the circuit with the final three minutes approaching. This time round, Hamilton was not the first man on track but was the first Mercedes to remain in front of his team-mate on a track that was dropping in temperature.
Over the first sector, Hamilton had a standard sector while Rosberg had a poor sector following a lock up at turn one and aborted the lap. But Lewis kept pushing and went purple in the middle and final sector to secure pole by three tenths to Rosberg.
Vettel also had a poor final lap and lost time across the circuit and was unable to challenge either Mercedes. Raikkonen meanwhile pitted from the track and could only claim sixth place with both Red Bull’s slotting between himself and Seb.
But at the glitz and glamour Grand Prix, F1’s bling man Lewis Hamilton will start the race from pole position and in the best place to take victory in tomorrow’s Grand Prix. On the other hand, and in the other side of the garage, Rosberg will start from second and in the best place to challenge his team-mate for the win in Monaco.
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Q3: 1:15.098|