Kimi Räikkönen has broken a pole position drought that has stretched as far back as the 2008 French Grand Prix by qualifying quickest for Sunday’s race in Monaco.

The Finn’s stunning final lap proved enough to cement pole position, with Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel ensuring a front-row lockout for the team despite a small mistake at Mirabeau.

While there would rightfully be celebrations in the Ferrari garage, emotions will be mixed on each side of the Mercedes garage.

Valtteri Bottas almost made it an all-Finnish front row, pulling out all stops on his final flying lap and defying the F1W08’s surprisingly off-the-pace showing in the second and third practice sessions. The Russian Grand Prix winner was just four-hundredths of a second off pole, and just two-thousandths of a second slower than Vettel.

By contrast, qualifying was a disaster for his teammate Lewis Hamilton. The Briton started his weekend well with blistering pace in Thursday’s first practice session, but the team lost its way chasing its set-up and fell off the pace in the subsequent practice sessions. He was clearly struggling with the handling of his car, as evidenced by two near-accidents at Massenet and Casino Square on separate laps in Q2.

He returned to the pits for a fresh set of tyres and a front-wing adjustment, but any hopes of scraping through to Q3 were shattered when McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne crashed at the exit of the Swimming Pool, which forced Hamilton to back off and abort his flying lap.

That would confine him to fourteenth on the timesheets, although he is expected to be promoted to at least twelfth thanks to grid penalties for Vandoorne and series returnee Jenson Button.

Vandoorne’s accident ruined McLaren’s first Q3 appearance for both cars this season. The Belgian’s accident – largely identical to Esteban Ocon’s shunt in FP3 – ensured he would take no part in what should have been his maiden Q3 outing, leaving Button as the sole representative for the Woking squad. The Briton qualified ninth-fastest.

While Mercedes struggled and McLaren was flattered, Red Bull Racing showed it had closed the gap to the frontrunners with the help of the Monte Carlo circuit’s slow speed characteristics. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo claimed fourth and fifth respectively – the latter held up by traffic on his final run – finishing ahead of an impressive Carlos Sainz Jr in the Toro Rosso.

Sergio Pérez put his Force India seventh, while Romain Grosjean delivered a superb performance in his Haas Ferrari which appeared utterly evil in the Frenchman’s hands. His braking struggles appearing to continue, Grosjean had a number of lock-ups and even a wild spin at the exit of Mirabeau earlier on.

On top of Hamilton, Vandoorne’s crash in the final stages of Q2 consigned a number of drivers from having a starring role in Q3. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was a contender on the basis of his practice pace alone and was the first of the drivers to miss out.

The Russian edged out Nico Hülkenberg, who wrestled his Renault into twelfth place ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who complained about being held up by Hamilton.

Williams’ Felipe Massa was slowest of all in Q2, posting a time well off the pace. The Brazilian comfortably had the edge over rookie teammate Lance Stroll as he has all weekend; the Canadian teenager only managed to outpace the Saubers.

His Force India mechanics having worked frantically in the two hours between his FP3 crash and the start of qualifying, Esteban Ocon caught traffic on his final Q1 lap and narrowly missed out on a top-fifteen berth.

He finished half a second quicker than the second Renault of Jolyon Palmer, with the Briton complaining of chronic understeer.

As they have largely done all weekend, the Saubers were perched at the bottom of the timesheets. Pascal Wehrlein managed to outpace teammate Marcus Ericsson in the final reckoning by just one-tenth of a second, although the Swede was forced to park his C36 when he clipped the wall at the Nouvelle Chicane and damaged his left-rear wheel.

Sunday’s 78-lap Monaco Grand Prix will start at 14:00 local time (GMT +2).

Q3 Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap Tyre
1. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:12.178 Pirelli Ultra Soft
2. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:12.221 + 0.043 Pirelli Ultra Soft
3. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:12.223 + 0.045 Pirelli Ultra Soft
4. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:12.496 + 0.318 Pirelli Ultra Soft
5. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:12.998 + 0.820 Pirelli Ultra Soft
6. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:13.162 + 0.984 Pirelli Ultra Soft
7. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:13.329 + 1.151 Pirelli Ultra Soft
8. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:13.349 + 1.171 Pirelli Ultra Soft
9. Jenson Button^ uk McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:13.613 + 1.435 Pirelli Ultra Soft
10. Stoffel Vandoorne^ ca McLaren-Honda MCL32 no time
Q2 Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap** Tyre
11. Daniil Kvyat ru Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:13.516 + 1.285 Pirelli Ultra Soft
12. Nico Hülkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:13.628 + 1.397 Pirelli Ultra Soft
13. Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:13.959 + 1.728 Pirelli Ultra Soft
14. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:14.106 + 1.875 Pirelli Ultra Soft
15. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:20.529 + 8.298 Pirelli Ultra Soft
Q1 Qualifiers Team / Entry Time Gap* Tyre
16. Esteban Ocon fr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:14.101 + 1.023 Pirelli Ultra Soft
17. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:14.696 + 1.618 Pirelli Ultra Soft
18. Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:14.893 + 1.815 Pirelli Ultra Soft
19. Pascal Wehrlein de Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:15.159 + 2.081 Pirelli Ultra Soft
20. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:15.276 + 2.198 Pirelli Ultra Soft

* Denotes gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:13.078 posted by Max Verstappen
** Denotes gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:12.231 posted by Kimi Räikkönen

Post-Qualifying Penalties:

  • Jenson Button will serve a 15-place grid penalty for his car being fitted with its fifth new MGU-H and turbo charge of the season
  • Stoffel Vandoorne will serve a 3-place grid penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Felipe Massa at the Spanish Grand Prix

Image via Scuderia Ferrari

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.