Mark Webber continued the Red Bull qualifying juggernaut, helping the marque to its sixth successive pole position this season with a scintillating lap to overcome a huge challenge from Renault’s Robert Kubica in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Pole was a sentimental favourite for a surprise pole position, with a strong showing in this morning’s practice session and then good pace in all three phases of qualifying. An early time in Q3 looked set to be unbeatable, but the session came alive in the final minutes with a stunning time of 1:13.826 – the only time below the 1m14s mark all weekend so far.
Sebastian Vettel lines up directly behind Webber on the second row of the grid, which he will share with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who was quickest in Q1. The Brazilian was Ferrari’s sole representative after team-mate Fernando Alonso crashed during the morning session at Massenet, leaving his mechanics with an insurmountable task to have the damaged car repaired in time for qualifying.
However, Massa might not keep his second-row berth with footage showing him badly baulking Jenson Button between La Rascasse and Anthony Noghes while the Briton was on a hot lap.
It was a disappointing session for Button and his McLaren team, with the cars lining up fifth (Hamilton) and eighth (Button), sandwiching the Mercedes GP cars of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
The Williams chassis seemed better suited to the less aero-dependent nature of Monaco, and Rubens Barrichello achieved his first dry-weather Q3 promotion of the season to-date, and will line up in 9th position. Team-mate Nico Hülkenberg starts from 11th place.
After a generally lacklustre weekend so far, Vitantonio Liuzzi made it count when it mattered, out-qualifying team-mate Adrian Sutil and managing an appearance in the top-ten as well.
Despite Kubica’s heroics, team-mate Vitaly Petrov will again be using his sponsorship budget to fund more repair bills to his R30, after crashing out during qualifying with a slide into the Ste Devote tyre barriers. The Russian looked ragged and was clearly overdriving in hiss efforts to keep up with the pace. That he slapped the barriers was hardly a surprise, but having achieved similar results in China, Spain and now here, his mechanics must rather tire of the overtime after a while…
Alonso’s default rear-of-the-grid starting position for tomorrow’s race took away the surprise element as to the identity of the Q1 rejectee who would join the rookie team drivers, but Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli drove their hearts out in the opening 20-minute gambit in the hope of springing a surprise promotion into Q2. Kovalainen, in particular, pushed extremely hard, suffering spins at both Mirabeau and Loews in his efforts! Incredibly, Trulli was out-qualified by his team-mate at Monaco for the first time ever in his 14-year F1 career – and the superstitious among us will have no doubt that the revised helmet design he wore for today will have put a hex on that statistic being broken.
Tomorrow’s race looks set to be a fascinating one!
2010 Monaco GP Qualifying Times:
|1.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1:15.035||1:14.462||1:13.826|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing||1:15.110||1:14.568||1:14.227|
|6.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:15.188||1:14.375||1:14.544|
|7.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:15.649||1:14.691||1:14.590|
|10.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India||1:15.397||1:15.061||1:15.170|
|12.||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:15.445||1:15.318|
|13.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso||1:15.961||1:15.413|
|15.||Pedro de la Rosa||Sauber||1:15.908||1:15.692|
|17.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||1:16.021||1:16.176|
|20.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||1:17.377|
|21.||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing||1:17.864|
|24.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||no time|
[Original image via GP Update]