Hope vs Glory?
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US Grand Prix
Schumacher fastest in qualifying, but Webber inherits pole after penalty
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 May 2012   |  3:17 pm GMT  |  219 comments

In a surprising and frantic qualifying session in Monaco, 43 year old Michael Schumacher gave Mercedes its second pole position of the season and the 69th of his career. Schumacher is the fourth oldest pole sitter of all-time; only Jack Brabham, Juan-Manuel Fangio and Giuseppe Farina took pole position at a greater age than Schumacher is today. He is the oldest pole position driver since Spanish GP 1970.

But with the 5 place penalty he was handed for the collision with Bruno Senna in Spain, Mark Webber will inherit the pole, his second in Monaco. And that will give him a golden opportunity to become the sixth winner in six races, which would be the first time in F1 history.

Webber won the race from pole here in 2010 and has every chance of a repeat tomorrow, as Monaco has been won from pole all but one occasion in the last seven years. Nico Rosberg was third on the day and will therefore start from the front row tomorrow with his best chance yet of a win in the he grew up in.

The threat from McLaren, Lotus and Ferrari was somewhat blunted. Romain Grosjean saved two new sets of supersofts, but the signs were already there from his team mate’s struggles that the Lotus wasn’t really performing over a single lap. It’s strengths lie in low speed traction and the way that lack of wheelspin leads to better tyre life on long runs. However Grosjean was lying second after the first runs in Q3, but Grosjean’s final run didn’t work out in the middle sector.

“I did a very good lap in the first part of Q3 but then I couldn’t improve on my second set of tyres, ” said the 26 year old Frenchman. “This was a shame because our strategy was perfect for the last part of qualifying. The traffic wasn’t too bad but I missed out in sector two. I think pole position was within reach.”

Nevertheless Grosjean starts fourth, just behind Lewis Hamilton, another pre-race favourite. The McLaren wasn’t at the top of the time sheets at any stage in qualifying, but Hamilton – one of only two drivers to have scored points in every race – is on a consistency programme and will be targetting a podium as a minimum tomorrow.

The Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were much closer then they have been in prior races and they will sandwich Schumacher on the grid tomorrow in fifth and seventh. They looked to be competitive throughout, although Massa was unable to improve on his Q2 lap time and challenge for pole position. Sebastian Vettel used up all his sets of supersofts just to get into Q3 for the second race in a row. He set no time in Q3 again, so has a free choice on starting tyre tomorrow and has hinted he may start on the harder tyre.

Pastor Maldonado will start 19th after being handed a 10 place penalty by stewards for driving into Perez at the end of practice 3.

Mercedes’ threat had been clear from Saturday morning practice; Rosberg had been the pace setter and was on provisional pole after the first runs in Q3. But he did not find enough improvement at the end to hold it and Schumacher and Webber slipped through.

The Mercedes pairing looked like potential pole sitters from the outset of qualifying, as they were both in the top five in each session. A variety of cars were in amongst the front three rows of the grid during the earlier stages, including Felipe Massa, who set the pace in Q2 and, like Schumacher has done no harm to his confidence.

As is often the case in Monaco, track conditions improved significantly during the session and times continued to drop until the dying seconds of each session, causing headaches for teams that did not want to waste a second set of tyres. However, the lack of overtaking in the Principality means that starting position is all the more important. And for those that could get the job done in the earlier sessions on just one set of tyres, they were able to save a set of options for the final shoot-out. This was the case for the front three cars, as well as Hamilton and Grosjean.

Schumacher did not want to compare the pole to others from his first career, “Monaco is so special, it’s more of a driver track than others but it’s super fantastic if you do such a lap. We saw how tight qualifying was. It’s sweet and a good feeling. You come back and hope for results and finally you get it together and are able to prove it. You have to see there are two different chapters of my career,” said Schumacher. “This is the second one. It’s the best position I’ve been in and I can give back a little to the team for all the trust that’s been put in me these last two years.”

Webber was delighted with the way qualifying had turned out, especially after not finding the sweet spot in practice on Thursday, but some changes to the balance on the car since Thursday have given him a car with the feel he was looking for.

“Its Michael’s day, it was a good lap from him,” said Webber. “Quali is the first time you start to pull everything together. I was aiming for the first few rows, I thought I would go for pole, it was a good lap and it’s a good position to start from tomorrow.”

The session started with Sergio Perez crashing heavily in the Sauber after a breakage in the left side of his steering arm. This is the corner of the car that was hit by Pastor Maldonado at the end of FP3, which led to Maldonado being given a 10 place grid penalty by the stewards.

In Q2 Jenson Button was the high profile scalp, failing to make the cut, along with both Force Indias, both Toro Rossos, Senna and Kobayashi. The Briton had set the fastest time in practice on Thursday but couldn’t get the performance when it mattered. He only just scraped through Q1 by a tenth of a second.

[Additional Reporting: Matt Meadows]

1. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m14.301s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m14.381s + 0.080
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m14.448s + 0.147
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m14.583s + 0.282
5. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m14.639s + 0.338
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m14.948s + 0.647
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m15.049s + 0.748
8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m15.199s + 0.898
9. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m15.245s + 0.944
10. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull no time

11. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m15.421s + 0.510
12. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m15.508s + 0.597
13. Jenson Button McLaren 1m15.536s + 0.625
14. Bruno Senna Williams 1m15.709s + 0.798
15. Paul di Resta Force India 1m15.718s + 0.807
16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m15.878s + 0.967
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m16.885s + 1.974

18. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m16.538s + 1.120
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m17.404s + 1.986
20. Timo Glock Marussia 1m17.947s + 2.529
21. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m18.096s + 2.678
22. Charles Pic Marussia 1m18.476s + 3.058
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m19.310s + 3.892
24. Sergio Perez Sauber no time

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

He also said at the start “grosjean gets tagged by Schumacher”

Bias shining through all week-end. I hope Schumi wins Montreal so I can listed to the pain in DC’s voice.


Is David Coulthard the most jaded man in F1? While Ben was excited to see MS’ time stick as #1 he was shortly interrupted by DC saying “let’s hail the pole man” – Webber got pole because of a penalty, why should he be “hailed” for that? Then 10 seconds later Ben says “he has the honor of getting the fastest qualifying lap” and DC again interrupts with “and the dishonor of a 5-place grid penalty for ramming into the back of Senna”

The guy should get over it and get back in the car if he thinks he can do better.

It’s a shame, I actually like Coulthard and I thought the team of Brundle/Coulthard was the bee’s knees but whenever DC talks about MS it’s painful to listen to.

eric weinraub

To his critics, James and hero_was_senna_and_i_no_zero_about_racing, maybe you will all finally shut up! Schuey has been quick every race this seasion. Now, if Mercedes can put a car under him that will finish the race and the nanny stewards can let the drivers race, he’ll win before the season ends. Monaco is my least fav track and the yet again train


Maldonado should be thouroughly ashamed of his behaviour and was very lucky not get a 2-3 race ban for that move on Perez, which would have been fully deserved. The inconsistency of driver penalties is nothing short of outrageous with the likes of Hamilton getting shoved to the back of the grid for a minor technical infringement and this lunatic only getting a 10 place penalty. It’s not like he has no form for this kind of thing. If he keeps getting pathetic penalties for this kind of driving, he will cause a very serious accident one day…Williams should be absolutely furious with him.


Getting really fed up with Qualifying. Two weeks running the fastest man never ends up on pole. The World Champion doesn’t try to set a proper time in Q3 at Monaco. Ferrari’s don’t both going out for 5 minutes in Q3.

The cost of a Saturday ticket at Monaco is Euro 220 +. What a waste of money for fans.


keen to hear about how stewards decisions are made, because Schumi’s penalty seems a little unfair in light of other recent decisions.

schumi was excluded for a whole season, after being found to deliberately drive into J.V in the championship decider in 97, yet Maldonado gets 10 spots grid penalty for doing the same thing. Not even exclusion from the event?

What’s the difference?


Well done Michael.

No matter how much some people dislike his style or integrity, still to set the fastest time in Monaco at the age of 43 is just an undeniable achievement.

He might have made more mistakes than before, but at least a few times of retirement was down to the team’s or car’s fault. He has nothing to prove, and I hope he can finish the race today and score some good points.

For Nico he has a great chance today to win.


Well, the 69th pole that won’t be, just as McLaren’s 150th pole was taken away 2 weeks ago

If McLaren stick supersofts on again at the first pitstop, like last year, I’m gonna throw something! Always put softs, gives you more options later.

I hope Grosjean keeps it clean at the start, he’s done a couple of dive-bombs this year.


James – could you do an article on how penalties are decided. I find it amazing that in the last two race weekends, penalties have been handed out for…..

not easing off through yellow flags…..possibly endangering lives…..drive through

driving into the back of a slow driver (probably a misjudgement rather than deliberate, but, possibly endangering lives……5 grid places

ramming another driver….looked deliberate, possibly endangering lives, 10 grid places

running with a couple of pints short on fuel – driver didn’t know. back of the grid

Would be interesting to know if the punishments and penalties are set in stone, or if the stewards have free reign.

I think Maldonardo should be banned fro life before he causes an accident that takes a life…..it isn’t his first offence


Great points BB.

You can also add to that Vettel not getting a penalty for winning in Bahrain then pulling off into pit exit immediately after crossing the line without a slowing down lap. Hamilton put to back of grid for same offence in Spain.


Yes, good idea

Craig @ Manila

Congratulations to Pastor Maldonado, F1’s latest candidate for the “Hero To Zero Award”.

Two weeks ago he was a new star :

– Showing the world that pay-drivers are as good as anyone else.

– Putting Williams back in the winner’s circle.

– Finding himself in the position of being a joint-favourite for a win at Monaco.

Suddenly, he’s using his car as a weapon and deliberately crashing into people. How quickly the world can change in a fortnight.


He’s probably still exhausted from carrying people out of burning buildings…

Stone the crows

So… what happened? Michael takes the pole at Monaco and doesn’t claim to have won the tyre lottery, but rather attributes his position to skill and the execellent work of the team. Sarcasm aside, I’m happy for Michael and I think he will get a very good start and chop right into 3rd place. Vettel will probably get a great start and on fresh primes he will be pushing for the lead early. Its going to be another epic race.



It was nothing short of spectacular that Schumacher put that car on pole. After all that’s been said about his driving since his return, it would have been appropriate to write the first paragraph, or more, about how spectacular it was and not about how he won’t start from there and about the penalty. That could all have been written towards the end in one sentence. Let us revel in the glory and pay his some respect, then write about how he has to give up pole to the penalty. That was simply spectacular! All the skeptics are dead silent!!

Tom in Adelaide

Schumi’s pole was great for F1. The Barcelona penalty not so much. Why ruin the spectacle of this race for something that happened last race? A points penalty would have been far more appropriate. It punishes the driver/team but not the fans who want to see true untarnished competition at each respective race.

The stewards have a former driver representative. I think it’s time there was a fan representative too. Not to make any decisions but to give a fan perspective. F1 is about on track competition, that is the essence. Once again a stewarding decision has taken the spotlight away from a great F1 story.

James Clayton

So how many points would you have liked to deduct? Both of them?


Hi James,

Am I right in thinking that Rosberg is the only one near the front of the grid who has a new set of options left for the race ?

If so, that could get him past Webber at the first stop via the undercut (or keep him ahead if he manages a pass at the start).

Also, do you think Vettel will start on the prime, and one-stop ?


I don’t think so – he had two runs in Q3 and one in Q2.

An undercut in any form could get you ahead – you don’t need brand new tyres, just stopping earlier and a clear track to fall into. The latter part could be hard to find to make the undercut work. An undercut at a second stop would be more likely to work.

Going by the data I have seen, the Red Bull has generally been a faster race car than the Mercedes – even in China the Red Bull performance was noted as pretty good.

The start has been a problem for Mark. The car’s weight distribution has been mentioned a factor compared to Vettel. The reduced fuel load at Monaco won’t change this, but it will change the weight transfer to the rear wheels for everyone. Mark is on the cleaner side and has the advantage of being on the inside of curve to save some distance too.

If it is wet then there will be another set of variables.


Yes, but the new tyres are around half a second a lap quicker, and will last a few more laps – being able to stop earlier without compromising the next stint and run faster makes the undercut easier.

Don’t know how I missed one of Rosberg’s Q3 runs – thanks for pointing that out.


…”Schumacher is the fourth oldest pole sitter of all-time; only Jack Brabham, Juan-Manuel Fangio and Giuseppe Farina took pole position at a greater age than Schumacher is today. He is the oldest pole position driver since Spanish GP 1970.”…. that is an amazing statistic…. it puts Schumacher’s achievement today into perspective. Whether you like him or not he deserves credit…. but what a shame the record books will state Webber got pole.


Schumacher is NOT the fourth oldest pole sitter of all-time … he was just the fastest driver in Q3 and it was pathetic to see him holding up “Vettel’s Finger” when he knew damn well that he wasn’t on pole. He was just trying to steal some of Webber’s glory (and not for the 1st time).


@ Hendo again…. you do realize that racing drivers like us mere mortals do just have 10 fingers…. so more than likely in your bitter opinion of Schumacher no matter what fingers he was holding up he would have been copying somebody… so again… Chill Dude 😀 lol your beloved Webber won the race… so smile and be happy. 😀


@ Hendo – lol wow some people really do have it in for poor old Schumacher! Chill Dude 🙂


This season continues to astound! Well done Schumi, and Webber as well, I wish them both well for the race. And Maldonado… It was bad enough running Grosjean out in Aus, and now he’s repeated his road-rage tactics of Spa last year. I’m glad Williams is financially stable, but at what cost?


If Schumi had any self doubt it is surely gone now. To set the fastest lap in q3 at Monaco what a result.


On a completely different note – spare a thought for Pedro de la Rosa. Outqualified Pic and only a tenth behind Glock, yet 1.2s ahead of his team-mate.


Hi James

Any clue as to why Ferrari chose to hold their drivers late into Q3 and send them out on one run only? Considering what happened to Lewis last year it was a big gamble and in the end their challenge for pole fell short rather blatantly. Was it because they had only one set of options because i dont remember alonso using options to get into Q2?

A great job by Michael and hope it rains so he can get that elusive win which he truly deserves.


Because they only had one set of supersofts left each


I still struggle to see how Maldonado only has a ten place drop, it should have been an exclusion.

Having been involved in karting (grass roots motorsport) i can say that seeing the supposed ‘greatest drivers in the world’ doing such stupid things, is such a negative influence, which will find its way into the lowest forms of motorsport in this country and in other countries, it needs to be stamped on.

If the FIA really want to get low level motorsport going and continue to push F1 as the thing every young driver aspires to, they need to stamp things like this out ( especially as it has been done before by the same driver..) It spreads the attitude that barging competitors off the track is fair, which is already becoming too commonplace in karting and other motorsport, and it can only get worse with things such as this incident..



I’m dissappointed so little has been made of this. If nothing else the safety aspect should sew him SQ from the race. If Perez’s car had failed elsewhere it could have been so much more serious.

Second time its happened by him also. Disgraceful!


Well said Oliver. Only the second comment on this blog to point out Maldonado’s inexcusable and dangerous behavior.. He should be disqualified. Spending Sunday sitting watching instead of joining in the action might make him realize that he cannot keep getting away with incidents like that.

And from a purely commercial point of view, the Sauber team must be seething seeing one of their cars more or less guaranteed not to score points, even if they manage to get it to the grid, but still starting behind Maldonado.




Wow, well done Schumacher, and Webber too.

Everyone was saying Hamilton or Lotus for pole. You just can’t guess it! Having said that, the gaps are so small (less than a second covering the top 9) that such things hinge on the tiniest of margins.

Also James, Alonso seems to be saying a lot of nice things to Hamilton of late (and just read he’s declared him Championship favourite). I wonder if Ferrari are indeed slightly keen to lure him?! It won’t happen but well, just a thought.


Qualilfying has exposed one of the deficiencies in the Mclaren – slow corner traction not as good as their competition. I wonder if they could have done something about it (set-up wise) if practice sessions had run normally.

otherwise they will need to look into fixing it for some of the upcomeing tracks.


No I think Alonso and Hamilton respect each other a lot and have a kind of unspoken agreement to be civil


What do you mean UNSPOKEN agreement?

As far back as 2008 Alonso admitted to having nothing against Lewis -that they respected each other (his issue being with Mclaren/RD of course).

Lewis thinks he is the toughest teammate he has ever hand and acknoweledges him as “one of the best if not the best”.

So they haven’t signed a “tell me sweet nothings and i will reciprocate” pact as fare as I can tell.

Perhaps from Alonso’s side there is a bit of niggling towards the current world champion who is also on 2 championships but who knows.

All i know is that based on talent alone neither one’s praise of the other is an exaggeration or needs to be choreographed.

James Clayton

I think the issue with the current world champions is they all started with one eye on Schumacher’s records. Alonso being the first, had the hardest time dealing with the fact that he wasn’t going to match or beat them. Because, let’s face it, if Hamilton hadn’t come along he’d be well on his way by now, probably with at least 4 in the bag.

Hamilton was the second of these ‘post-Schumacher’ champions* (see below for reasoning!) and he had a hard time facing Vettel making it to 2 before him, which resulted in. Vettel is now seeing how close it has become and maybe his frustrations are beginning to creep in, realizing that he also may not get a crack at those records.

With each new champion, the realisation takes a little less time to sink in as they have seen it happen to others before them. Aloso, being the first, had his paddy at McLaren, Hamilton went virtually into meltdown last year; I think Vettel will be over it and refocused before the end of the year.

*in relation to post-Schumacher champions I am excluding Button because he’s too old to realistically be thinking about beating Michael’s records (and I don’t think it was ever really on his radar), and Kimi is somewhat of a different bread, and I don’t think he ever really worried about stats.


Great to see Sandshoe Fixer take the pole! But the stewards are really confusing me, I would’ve thought Malonerdo’s road rage should have disqualified him from the race completely plus the rest of the season on probation, or at least be relegated to the back of the grid! His misdemeanor was so much more serious than McLaren’s one litre of fuel mistake! AND I also believe they were too harsh on Michael for his mistake with Senna because Senna contributed to incident by moveing unexpectedly.



Awesome qualifying session, Schumacher (or any driver in these circumstances) should be given pole on their stats as they set the fastest time on the day. Starting 6th as a result of a grid-drop applied from a previous session shouldn’t erase what we all saw today.

Is this the first time in F1 history that in two races on the trot the second fastest car in qualifying inherited pole?



Why didn’t Seb set a time in Q3?

Is saving tires more inportant than grid position even in Monaco?


He had no option tyres left and now as a chance to start on new hards


According to Christian Horner which I’ve just seen, he does have a set of new options for the race.

The team figured that they’d gone the wrong way with his car setup, and he would have no chance of pole. They chose not to set a time so he’d have a free choice of which tyres to start on.

One stopper planned ?

James Clayton

Didn’t he go out and put a sector time in? What tyres did he use for that?

Luke Clements

James, does MW have a ”mental” block when it comes to starting? He’s had so many bad starts, is it habitual now? A bit like a batsmen getting to the crease knowing he’s going to get a duck. Been reading Steve Waughs autobiography, and it’s really interesting to hear one of the very best ever batsmen talk about how toughest battles for him were always in the mind.

I so hope he gets away in front and drives a great race!


Some technical points have been raised such as the weight distribution as he has less balast to use than Sebastian and the feel of the clutch – changed last year. KERS capacity/effectiveness has also been mentioned by people outside of the team.

Another part seems to be Mark’s feel an confidence in early corners before the brakes are fully up to temperature. I feel about half of those places lost are due to the moves in the first corners rather than the start itself. Monaco being so tight, provided he gets an okay getaway, then you are almost certain to be in the top two from pole.

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