Monaco Grand Prix Qualifying: Hamilton back on top

Hamilton takes Monaco pole, Kettle Mag
Written by F1_Charlie

Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix from pole position after a dramatic turnaround in Q3. It is Hamilton’s first pole position around the streets of Monaco after nine attempts. Hamilton will once again share the front row of the grid with team-mate Nico Rosberg who’s error cost him a shot at knocking off Hamilton, the German took pole position last year in controversial fashion locking up his brakes at Turn One.

With the clouds gathering their cover did not play into the hands of Ferrari, whilst they managed to get Sebastian Vettel on the second row, the Mercedes pace was far superior.

As you would expect with a track like Monaco, the tight and twisty nature of the circuit caused a lot of drivers to drop back to make space to start their lap thus backing up the drivers behind at the final corners. Mercedes looked strong from the off with Rosberg ending Q1 in the driving seat. Whilst it was easy going for Mercedes, Force India did not have it all their own way.

Nico Hulkenberg spun his car at Mirabeau, a corner that has claimed a number of victims over the years on a Saturday. Hulkenberg’s collision with the wall was hard, but fortunately it wasn’t enough to end his session early.

The story of the first phase of qualifying was the performance, or lack of, from the Williams pair. Both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massia struggled yet the team remained confident heading into the session that their fortunes would change, but this wasn’t the case. Bottas was the big name casualty in the first session, joining Felipe Nasr, Marcus Ericsson, Will Stevens and Roberto Mehri.

McLaren have looked to be in much better shape heading into qualifying. Although it was a stronger weekend for the team, Fernando Alonso will be in for a long afternoon come the race. The Spaniard set just one time that was uncompetitive in Q2, at the start of his first hot lap his McLaren went into anti-stall at the entry to Turn One bringing both his car and session to an unexpected hault. 

Despite eventually going onto take pole position later on in the session, Hamilton did struggle in comparison to team-mate Rosberg. Hamilton finished Q2 in 3rd place, setting the exact same time as Vettel who went 2nd fastest in his Ferrari in the second phase of qualifying. The same tyre pressure problems that Hamilton faced in FP3 appeared once again and disrupted his rhythm. 

There was a sense of deja vu at the end of Q2 with Rosberg locking up and bringing out the yellow flags halting the rest of the grids progress, one driver being Jenson Button who was looking to reach Q3 for the first time this season. The 2009 Monaco GP winner qualified 12th but will start in 11th after Romain Grosjean’s gearbox penalty is applied. To add insult to injury, Grosjean was out qualified by Lotus team-mate Pastor Maldonado for the first time this season.

Massa and Williams’ difficult day came to its conclusion at the end of Q2 and they will line up outside the top 10. The Brazilian took pole position in Monaco in 2008 and was a long way off of getting anywhere near that level of performance today in what can only be described as a tough day at the office.

The Williams man joined Grosjean, Button, Hulkenberg and Alonso on the sidelines. 

With a few spots of rain in the air, the Mercedes duo were the first cars to hit the track in Q3. Earlier on in Q2 when the front runners first put on the option tyre, the teams were having to do a warm up lap to get heat into the tyres, something that isn’t usually seen in qualifying. This trend continued into Q3.

Hamilton was the first to set a time of the two and went fastest overal with a time of 1:15.304s, + 0.136s faster than Rosberg who was aiming to join the list of gets such as Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher to take pole position three consectuive times around the streets of Monte-Carlo. 

When it came to the second and final efforts, the pressure was on Rosberg. The pressure seemed to be all to much for him as he blew his lap at the first corner by locking up and handing pole position to Hamilton who has never been on pole around Monaco in F1. His previous pole position on the streets came back in 2006 in his GP2 championship winning year.

Behind the Mercedes, Vettel continued to show just how much Ferrari have improved on last year. Daniel Ricciardo was disappointed with fourth place, the Red Bull man and Vettel’s former team-mate felt as if third was there for the taking but instead he will line up just in front of team-mate Daniil Kvyat. 

With Vettel in 3rd, Kimi Raikkonen will not be happy with 6th on the grid as his qualifying woes continue. Sergio Perez claimed an impressive 7th place in a difficult to drive Force India ahead of Carloz Sainz, Maldonado and Max Verstappen.

Do you think Hamilton has the win in the bag? Leave your comments below.