Monaco Grand Prix pole secured by Daniel Ricciardo.
Daniel Ricciardo contrasted the norm and secured his first pole position in Formula One at the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix. As his team-mate crashed out in Q1 and Hamilton suffered an engine issue in Q3, qualifying was a mesmerising session where Red Bull claimed their first pole since 2013. Breaking the stronghold Mercedes have held, with their drivers claiming all but two poles since the introduction of the V6 hybrids.
When qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix went green, Rio Haryanto led a queue of cars out onto the streets. The immediate start to proceedings however was interrupted as Felipe Nasr’s engine failed on the exit of the tunnel. A splatter of oil and a huge plum of smoke billowed from the Sauber’s exhaust before Nasr came to a halt shortly after the Nouvelle Chicane.
With the Sauber cleared from the circuit, the red flags were swapped for green flags and qualifying was back underway with Gutierrez the new leader of the pack. Esteban’s initial lap time however was half a second down on his Haas team-mates.
Following an extra warm-up lap, as Mercedes have struggled with getting the new ultrasoft tyres into the best operating window, Hamilton was able to blitz Romain’s time by 1.7 seconds. Rosberg followed suit in blitzing the Haas driver’s time, with a slender four hundredths splitting the Silver Arrows.
A few laps on, Vettel was able to edge ahead of Hamilton at the top as Raikkonen edged himself closer to the front. While at the other end of the leaderboard, Sauber’s remaining car was splitting the Renaults as the teams continue with their struggles.
As for the middle of the pack, Force India sat comfortably ahead of the Renault’s and Sauber. Their respectable times coming despite running on the supersoft tyres rather than the favourable ultrasofts. Yet when they exited the pits with the purple walled Pirelli’s, the red flags were back out as Max Verstappen found the barrier.
As the Spanish Grand Prix winner took the entrance of the second part of the swimming pool chicane, he turned in for the apex too early and clipped the barrier with his front-right tyre. The impact snapped his steering rod causing him to straight line the subsequent part of the chicane, sending him initially into the kerb and then the wall to end his qualifying.
With six minutes remaining, the track was alive once more when the pit exit light flicked green. Although the top eight of Ferrari, Mercedes, Toro Rosso, Ricciardo and Button remained in their garages.
Once times began to roll out, Bottas nudged Button down to 10th while Ericsson pushed Magnussen into the drop zone. Kevin however followed the Sauber across the line to regain a Q2 slot, although the race stewards had announced the Renault driver would be investigated following the end of Q1 for exiting the pits after the light had changed to red following Verstappen’s crash.
Come the chequered flag, Ericsson could not find any more time and ended the session in 17th place and out of qualifying. Grosjean for Haas meanwhile pushed on for eighth place. Gutierrez too had a strong Q1 to end the first part of qualifying in 14th place, only four hundredths behind Button and two tenths up on Massa.
As the battle for track position continued, Kvyat led another queue of cars out of the pits as the green light flicked on for the fourth time. Extra warm-up laps were again being carried out, with 13 cars crossing the line far off the out-right pace before Kvyat flew across the line with a 1:14.8.
The suspected pole position fighters though dropped the benchmark even further with Hamilton posting a 1:14.056, with Rosberg, Ricciardo and Vettel all four tenths slower. Not only was Lewis’ lap four tenths faster than his rivals, it was also the fastest of the weekend at that stage.
As for Williams, their two drivers were out of the top-10 as they had the track to themselves. The lower-downforce package Williams run was not helping their drivers as they struggled on the streets.
In contrast, the Red Bull which generally has the best downforce in the field came back out of the pits on the supersoft tyres. The slightly harder compound tyre even failed to prevent Ricciardo from bettering his Q2 benchmark, set on the ultrasofts. And with those being his race tyres, should the Monaco Grand Prix be a dry race despite potential rain, Ricciardo will be starting the race on a contrasting strategy to his rivals.
When the chequered flag dropped over the Principality of Monaco, Gutierrez edged up to 12th place as Button edged into 13th. While Jenson’s McLaren team-mate secured a top-10 place in tenth and at the top of the timesheet, Rosberg dropped Hamilton by one hundredth of a second to set the new fastest lap of the weekend.
But while Rosberg was able to come back out to set the best lap of Q2, earlier in the session he nearly mirrored Verstappen’s crash as he brushed against the barrier at the swimming pool chicane.
The queue at the start of Q3 was headed by Ricciardo, but the drama of qualifying was unfolding before the top-10 could cross the pit exit line as Hamilton reported he had no power. Knowing he could not cross the exit line for his team to be able to move the car, he edged to the side of the pit lane as his mechanics rushed down to his aid.
While Mercedes rushed to find a fix to Hamilton’s woe, Ricciardo was flying around the Monte Carlo harbour on his way to a 1:13.622. Complete faith in his car and belief in himself, Ricciardo was leaving nothing as he set provisional pole with a lap three tenths better than what Rosberg could manage with his first effort.
The cause of Hamilton’s problem was confirmed as being a fuel pressure issue, while Rosberg too suffered a similar issue which caused his car to initially not fire up in the garage.
But while Ricciardo rolled back to the pits, Hamilton was hitting the track for his qualifying run. By the time Lewis began his first flying lap however, he was catching drivers who were exiting the pits for their second runs and opted to not push on that particular lap. Next time round, Hamilton again lifted early on as he left it late before attacking.
With just 30-seconds remaining, Hamilton’s first fighting lap saw him edge Ricciardo’s best time through the first sector. Through sector two, Hamilton too was up on Ricciardo’s time but the gap was just one tenth of a second and across the line, the gap had stretched in Ricciardo’s favour to nearly four tenths.
Rosberg was yet to cross the line though but his final flyer was only enough to secure second on the grid, meaning Red Bull have secured their first pole since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix. Pole in Monaco is also Daniel Ricciardo’s first in Formula One and will lead the field away from the grid with a contrasting strategy to those around him.
Despite qualifying in sixth place, Kimi Raikkonen will also slip down the order due to a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change prior to qualifying.
|7||Carlos Sainz Jr.||1:15.467||1:14.805||1:14.749|