Nico Rosberg has secured a hat-trick of pole positions in an exciting, weather-affected qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver – who was fastest in each of the event’s practice sessions – posted a rapid lap-time in the dying stages of the session, beating out Lewis Hamilton to give the Silver Arrows back-to-back front-row lockouts.
A rain shower just before qualifying was enough to force the field onto intermediate tyres in Q1, and all signs quickly pointed to it being an unpredictable session, with Jules Bianchi’s Marussia stopping just a few seconds into the session when he suffered an airbox fire. It would mark a disappointing end to the Frenchman’s Saturday, while also ensuring that teammate Max Chilton would outqualify him for the first time this season.
Another driver to have an early bath was Felipe Massa, after the Ferrari team confirmed it had been unable to repair the damage to the Brazilian’s car, which it sustained in Saturday’s earlier practice accident.
Fellow FP3 crashers Romain Grosjean and Adrian Sutil were, however, able to make it out onto the circuit, and both managed to comfortably ease into the second phase of qualifying with their late lap-times as the track dried towards the end of Q1.
Grosjean’s last-minute Q1 effort was enough to demote a surprise Paul di Resta into an early sidelining after his engineers botched his set-up and tyre selection. While his Q1 elimination was a surprise, it was more expected for the likes of Charles Pic and Max Chilton, who were joined – once again – by the underperforming Esteban Gutiérrez in the Sauber.
That result ensured that Giedo van der Garde would give the Caterham team its first Q2 appearance since the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix, much to the Leafield-based team’s delight. The Dutchman performed well in the second phase of qualifying, managing to get the recalcitrant CT03 into fifteenth place on the grid.
While Grosjean may have been one of the pace-setters, his run came to an end in Q2 as he struggled to get his hastily-rebuilt Lotus the balance it needed as track conditions steadily dried enough to warrant a switch to the super soft Pirelli tyres. He was joined by both Williams runners, along with Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg in occupying positions eleven to sixteen on the grid.
The final ten-minute phase of qualifying was an all super soft tyre affair, and while position chopped and changed over the ten minutes, it was ultimately the Mercedes pair that prevailed, edging out the Red Bull Racing duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
Lotus’ Kimi Räikkönen was next up in fifth position, while Fernando Alonso carries Ferrari’s hopes of breaking its twelve-year winless run at Monaco with his sixth-placed starting position.
Sergio Pérez led McLaren’s qualifying charge as the Woking outfit got both its drivers into Q3. The Mexican was seventh-fastest, two spots ahead of teammate Jenson Button, with the pair sandwiching Sutil. Jean-Éric Vergne completed the top ten in his Toro Rosso Ferrari.
2013 Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:13.876|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:13.967||+ 0.091|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:13.980||+ 0.104|
|4.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:14.181||+ 0.305|
|5.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:14.822||+ 0.946|
|6.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:14.824||+ 0.948|
|7.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:15.138||+ 1.262|
|8.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:15.383||+ 1.507|
|9.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:15.647||+ 1.771|
|10.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:15.964||+ 1.827|
|Q3 Cut-Off – 1:17.748||Time||Gap*|
|11.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:18.311||+ 2.343|
|12.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:18.344||+ 2.356|
|13.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:18.603||+ 2.615|
|14.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:19.077||+ 3.089|
|15.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:19.408||+ 3.420|
|16.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:21.688||+ 5.700|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:26.095||Time||Gap**|
|17.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:26.332||+ 2.870|
|18.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:26.633||+ 3.181|
|19.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:26.917||+ 3.465|
|20.||Max Chilton||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:27.303||+ 3.851|
|Outside 107% Cut-Off||Time||Gap**|
|DNQ.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||no time|
|DNQ.||Felipe Massa^||Scuderia Ferrari F138||no time|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:15.988 by Sebastian Vettel
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:23.452 by Pastor Maldonado
^ Massa will incur a 5- place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change
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