As a boy Nico Rosberg was driven through the Monaco tunnel on his way to school. Today as he clinched his first Monaco pole position and Mercedes’ fourth straight pole of 2013, pipping team mate Lewis Hamilton in Monaco qualifying on a drying track. World champion Sebastian Vettel completed the top three ahead of Mark Webber, with Kimi Raikkonen fifth and Fernando Alonso a surprised and disappointed sixth.
It was a tough day for Ferrari, with team mate Felipe Massa crashing heavily in Free Practice three and taking no part in qualifying.
Tomorrow Rosberg will attempt to become the first son of a Monaco winner to repeat his father’s success.
It started raining thirty minutes before qualifying and in a session that saw the track move from wet to dry, with slick tyres in use from the latter stages of Q2 onwards, it came down to the latest lap possible and an exciting final shoot out between the Mercedes and Red Bull pairings. And after covering the front-row at the half way stage of final qualifying Red Bull could not match the pace of a very much in form Mercedes, Rosberg having topped every practice session throughout the weekend.
Therefore the result came as little surprise – however Vettel’s pace came unexpectedly. The Red Bull looked ordinary on Thursday in practice, and Vettel had been quiet in the build up to qualifying as it looked set to be Ferrari and Lotus as the main challengers to Mercedes. But the triple World Champion was able to put himself in the best possible position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix should Mercedes’ heavy tyre use issues continue here.
It’s the easiest track of the season on tyres and it’s also very hard to overtake, so Mercedes should be able to hold on for the win. But with an 80% chance of safety car here, anything is possible.
Mercedes sources indicated that the two drivers will be allowed to race each other for the win tomorrow, but not at the first corner. Discipline must be observed there.
Fernando Alonso had a difficult session and compounded a forgettable day for Ferrari. He was unable to make the step in pace as dry tyres became favourable over intermediates and he ended the session in sixth place. Massa, did not complete a lap in qualifying following his crash and he will therefore begin the race from the back of the field.
Kimi Raikkonen – Vettel’s closest title challenger – will be satisfied with his starting position of fifth. He has been off the ultimate pace this weekend so to put himself in the mix for some good points tomorrow will please the Finn. Lotus will be looking to make one stop tomorrow, whereas Mercedes may be forced in to an extra tyre change if it is deemed necessary to push the tyres hard race long.
That much depends on whether or not their is a safety car period and if Hamilton will act as a buffer for Rosberg to take his second career win. After a hat-trick of pole positions it is essential that tomorrow brings a good haul of points for the German, and he could become the first son of a racing driver to win the same race as his father – Keke taking the victory here thirty years ago.
Mark Webber made it an all Red Bull second row and also puts himself in contention on a circuit that he has seen much success.
Behind the top six, Sergio Perez got the better of team mate Jenson Button to take seventh position, whilst the Briton will start in ninth place. The McLaren pair sandwich Adrian Sutil in the Force India. The German crashed at Casino Square in final practice and made a good turn around to take eighth position.
Meanwhile Paul Di Resta dropped out of qualifying at the earliest stage having got his timings wrong as the circuit evolved and became more dry.
Closing out the top ten is Jean-Eric Vergne for Toro Rosso having looked very strong in wet conditions. He ended Q1 in second place and would have been hoping for the conditions to remain unchanged.
MONACO GRAND PRIX, Monte Carlo, Qualifying
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m13.876s
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m13.967s + 0.091s
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m13.980s + 0.104s
4. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m14.181s + 0.305s
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m14.822s + 0.946s
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m14.824s + 0.948s
7. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m15.138s + 1.262s
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m15.383s + 1.507s
9. Jenson Button McLaren 1m15.647s + 1.771s
10. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m15.703s + 1.827s
11. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m18.331s + 2.343s
12. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m18.344s + 2.356s
13. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m18.603s + 2.615s
14. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m19.077s + 3.089s
15. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m19.408s + 3.420s
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m21.688s + 5.700s
17. Paul di Resta Force India 1m26.322s + 2.870s
18. Charles Pic Caterham 1m26.633s + 3.181s
19. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m26.917s + 3.465s
20. Max Chilton Marussia 1m27.303s + 3.851s
21. Jules Bianchi Marussia
22. Felipe Massa Ferrari