Sebastian Vettel took his first pole position at Monaco and the fifth of the season ahead of Jenson Button and Mark Webber.
It is Vettel’s 20th career pole in just 68 races, equalling the total of Fernando Alonso, who has done 163 races. His time was 3/10ths of a second faster than last year’s pole at Monaco, set by Vettel’s team mate, Mark Webber.
Once again it came about because of a massive step up in performance from Q2 to Q3, where Vettel found 7/10ths of a second from his Red Bull car.
But qualifying was dominated by the accident of Sergio Perez, which brought out the red flags and caused a delay of over half an hour.
Prior to the stoppage Sebastian Vettel had done a good lap, as had Jenson Button and Mark Webber. Fernando Alonso had fourth fastest time but Lewis Hamilton was planning to do just one run – a three lap run – at the end of the session. He believed he had the car for pole. But he was caught out by Perez’ accident and ended up unable to set a time better than seventh in the two minutes which remained at the restart.
Worse still, he cut the chicane on his lap and the stewards deleted his time, so he is effectively 10th, with no Q3 time, but as Perez won’t race tomorrow, Hamilton will start 9th.
Most of the drivers found the track had lost grip in the final run and some found it hard to prepare the brakes and tyres properly for the run. Nico Rosberg managed to improve his time, but he was 8th behind his team mate Michael Schumacher for the first time this year. Schumacher lines up 5th tomorrow.
Afterwards some drivers, including Webber and Button, suggested that some changes need to be made to the circuit to make sure it is safe for F1 for the long term. The barrier at the bottom of the hill which Perez hit – and which Button has hit before – being the first thing to look at.
Jaime Alguersuari was the fall guy from the established teams who joined the new teams in the drop zone at the end of Q1. He was beaten by both the Lotus cars. Meanwhile the two Renaults and the two Mercedes drivers used a set of supersoft tyres to get through to Q2.
Lewis Hamilton set the pace in Q1 and he was fastest again in Q2. Paul di Resta beat his team mate Adrian Sutil on the final run, while Monaco specialist Pastor Maldonado again managed to get into the top ten for Williams, ahead of Rubens Barrichello.
Neither of the Renaults had the pace to get into the top ten and at Sauber Kobayashi struggled in comparison with Perez, he was 4/10ths slower. Pereze got into the top ten for the first time this season.
Nico Rosberg’s car had been badly damaged in the morning practice session but the Mercedes mechanics managed to fix it in time and Rosberg did a fantastic job to get through Q1 and Q2 without any drama. Also through was his team mate Michael Schumacher, although he used up a set of supersoft tyres in Q1.
MONACO GRAND PRIX, Monte Carlo
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m13.556s
2. Jenson Button McLaren 1m13.997s + 0.441
3. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m14.019s + 0.463
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m14.483s + 0.927
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m14.682s + 1.126
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m14.877s + 1.321
7. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m15.280s + 1.724
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m15.766s + 2.210
9. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m16.528s + 2.972
10. Sergio Perez Sauber No time
Q3 cut-off time: 1m15.545s Gap **
11. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m15.815s + 1.540
12. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m15.826s + 1.551
13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m15.973s + 1.698
14. Paul di Resta Force India 1m16.118s + 1.843
15. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m16.121s + 1.846
16. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m16.214s + 1.939
17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m16.300s + 2.025
Q3 cut-off time: 1m16.813s Gap *
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m17.343s + 2.136
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m17.381s + 2.174
20. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m17.820s + 2.613
21. Timo Glock Virgin 1m17.914s + 2.707
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m18.736s + 3.529
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT No time
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT No time