Nico Rosberg makes it a hat-trick of pole positions in wet-dry Monaco qualifying
Mercedes
Posted By:   |  25 May 2013   |  4:46 pm GMT  |  262 comments

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

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1

After all… some qualifying stats. Assuming that ROS is – as it seems recently – just a little bit faster than HAM.

WEB vs ROS – 12 : 6

ALO vs HAM – 7 : 10

WEB vs VET – 21 : 60

Looking at these stats only we’d have the following “raw-speed-qualifying-order”:

5. ALO

4. HAM

3. ROS

2. WEB

1. VET

2

Rosberg was a rookie versus Webber, who was likely at his fastest around then (age 29), so would discount the gap then. Unless of course we want to say Liuzzi is the fastest of all, as he beat Vettel in qualifying in 2007?

Likewise Hamilton’s efforts in 2007 as a rookie should be bumped up.

Hell, Grosjean beat Vettel and Schumacher in the RoC. Is it right to take that result as definitive? Of course not, it’s silly. Grosjean is fast, but not as fast as HAM, VET, or ROS. Plus what good is it to be fast, but in the wall?

3

In 2007 VET jumped in mid-season. The first time he was driving the Toro Rosso was in Hungary – at the race. He still managed to win 3 out of 7 qualifiyings against Liuzzi.

You are perfectly right though: Liuzzi beat Vettel this season in terms of raw-qualifying-speed among team mates! No discounts for Vettel.

By the way and in contrast: through intensive testing HAM was well prepared to compete against ALO.

However, my focus here was to provide one of the few… maybe the only really comparable criterion: raw-qualifying-speed among team-mates.

Am I saying this is the best and most conclusive criterion? No. But in my opinion still worthwhile to have a look at… especially if you exclude the crash-kids like Grosjean and narrow down the focus on the drivers considered being among the best.

4

Dear JA

Do you have information the alleged 1000 km Pirelli test?

ST

5

Base on Nico’s performance, I am pretty sure a 43 years old Schumacher could match one of the fastest guy in Lewis..

If you think about it,It’s scary what a 27 years old Schumacher was able to do. I watched Barcelona 96 again, it was insane..

6

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/107671

I though at first it was a late April fool joke or a “mistake” like the one that took the life out of George Soros.

A case of Mercedes making a deal with Pirelli (obviously with the blessing of the money that run F1)? – If (and only if) you help us figuring out what is wrong with our car, we will sign the contract extension with you. The rules do not permit? Fix the rules then!

I think you do not need to be a genius to figure this gives Merc an unfair advantage. The way Ross Brown manages to mention absolutely NOTHING about such an important event, when asked about tyres in the report, tells you everything you need to know about how unfair this advantage is..

James – not a single mention of this until now. Were all journalists covering F1 on vacation for two weeks after Barcellona or have I missed here?

7

It appears merc have brought back in season testing.

8
Bring Back Murray

It’s got to be one of the most important race starts of the whole season. If Merc can get away in 1st and 2nd after the first corner then things are going to be really interesting.

Well it seems to be a little mini-competition between Hamilton and Rosberg at the moment. Hamilton’s going to have to get on top of his new machinery fast as Rosberg’s been running away with things a bit over the last two races.

9

Good luck today Lewis! You are on your own, just go for it! You have a WDC to your name and people act like you didn’t make it to the front row, like you never won in your life…! Do your talking on track, this is a good day to prove them wrong!

10

Fair play to SB for his honesty after quali, it would have been so easy to say the Mercs were the fastest cars today and 3rd was the max because we were all expecting that but he took the responsibility himself and said he had the car for pole but made a mistake. The next person I saw interviewed was Paul Diresta who I thought was classless, blaming the team as if he had nothing to do with the situation, he didn’t insist on stopping and the team got AS into Q2, you wouldn’t see that from FA or SB. I quit like PD so I was disappointed. P.S. by saying “I shouldn’t say something cause I’ll say something I shouldn’t” you are already crossing the line.

11

Polite correction, Mercedes have 4 poles so far this season. This was the Merc’s 4th pole on the bounce.

12

Congrats to Nico very good job. I still don’t think Hamilton should be written off yet P2 is not bad for someone not comfortable in the car all weekend & the season is long too!

I don’t think anyone will 1 stop most will 2 or 3 stop If temps are over 33deg. I think Merc and Red Bull will be marginal at 2 but the Lotus will be stronger than all on 2. Only question is safety cars now.

13

It is somewhat amusing how people are still so surprised to see Mercedes and Red Bull qualifying in front. They clearly have the fastest cars in qualifying, and because of that they dont need to show their qualifying pace in free practice sessions. Red Bull has 3 poles so far and Mercedes also has 3 poles so far, it is really unsurprising to the point of being predictable to see them qualify ahead of Ferrari and Lotus. I bet they will still qualify ahead of them in the next race as well.

For once Mercedes will actually have a really good chance of winning the race. But it may come down to strategy, if Mercedes and Red Bull’s tyres degrade to fast and they have to do a two stop, then they could lose some places. If Kimi and Alonso are able to do a one stop while the others are doing a two stop strategy, then we could very see them on top of the podium.

14

The biggest problem for Mercedes should be to build a gap that’s big enough to not come back right in the middle of the pack while the Red Bulls, Lotus’ and Ferrari can stay out longer, build an even bigger gap on the mid field and come back in front of it, while the Mercs are still stuck in there.

15

Actually it’s 4 poles for Mercedes vs 2 poles RBR.

16

If the Merc’s are ordered not to race at first corner, it will be interesting to see the how the RBR pair squeezing through. I think somebody will tend to take the short cut to steal a position or two.

17

Did the Mercedes boys actually do a formal debrief after today’s qualifying session or did Ross Brawn simply play them footage of the 1990 Hungarian Grand Prix? “That’s the plan, loud and clear guys!” Try and hold off everyone behind you yet go slowly enough (in this case) to keep the tyres in the operating temperature (and even then they may be doomed if it’s hot tomorrow!). Still, this is one of their best chances to convert their Saturday form on Sunday and I would like to see them do it so good luck to them!

18

I got the sense from Nico’s comments after qualy that he does expect to win. It sure sounded like he expects to struggle in the race the same as the last two. I wonder if we’ll see a Nico train until the first stops.

19

He has a real swagger about him this weekend

20

That sounds seriously detrimental, like arrogant.

I would disagree – there’s a difference between swagger & confidence.

21

Oops, should have been “does NOT”… stupid iPad.

22

Well done to Rosberg, but I’m thinking it will be a race between the Bulls and Alonso…and possibly the safety car 😉

23

And Kimi. How can you underestimate Kimi? Shame on you!

🙂

24

Guess what will happen at the post-race pressconfrence when Vettel wins, nobody will even think about saying the words “Pirreli” or “tyres”

Guess what will happen when we return to Canada and RBR aren’t going to win…

25

Guys – I’m huge Lewis fan, but lets keep this all in perspective about Nico’s performance. At the moment, he’s doing great by out-qualifying Hamilton and outracing him at times. Still I would not place an advantage one over the other yet. Also, I would not go declaring him WDC just yet. He has one career win to his name. Not slagging the guy – I like him, hope he does well. Lets just cool off on the accomplishments until he can wrap up some more wins!

26

Agree completely..hes had only 5 races with Mercedes and at times bettered Nico and already people have started nailing the coffin..Lets see what happens over the latter part of the season..I already know what will happen.I too like Nico hope he goes great both for himself and the resurgence of the Silver Arrows.

27

If Merc have heavier tyre degradation, then vettel should be able to undercut them. As he has less tyre deg he should be able to stop earlier than them. With 2 stops he can pass 1 merc at a time. Especially feasible because of Redbull’s quick pit stops. Only problem might be that red bull guys will not find a clear window for vettel to run or safety car, but chances are they will. It looks very clear to me.

28

The Mercs are great at qualifying and Monaco is the track that is the easiest on the tyres. If the Mercs can win at any track this year, then it’s Monaco, especially if we’re gonna get comparatively low track temperatures.

29

I know the Ferrari isn’t as quick as the Mercedes in qualifying, but to be a second off the pace and languishing in 6th in the second fastest car in qualifying trim and no doubt the fastest car in race trim is awful. He’s put in some bad qualifying performance going back to Abu Dhabi last year but this might take the cake.

On a real drivers circuit too where a driver is able to make up more of a difference on pure talent–unlike Barcelona for instance which is pure aero.

And of course Alonso talking down his chances, so everyone can froth at the mouth about race craft and being a wily veteran when he puts the fastest car on the podium…

30

+1

Good old Alonso and his mind games. Best in the business.

After a poor qualifying session, its usually “we have a slow car” etc “give me a car within 2-3 tenths and i will do the rest” etc, now with what is widely accepted as the fastest race pace with good tyre management, he still plays the “we are not the quickest” so he can play the “im a magician” card.

31
Stone the crows

If it were anyone else but Rosberg I’d say he has a very good chance of winning tomorrow. But I haven’t seen such bad luck with a driver since Kimi Raikkonen was at McLaren. Something always seems to go wrong at Mercedes. But perhaps the stars will align for them in Monaco. Good luck Nico.

32

Button had a fuel pump problem. He was looking good for a possible 5th or 6th until the problem reared its head in Q3. He does look dejected, but I guess that’s because the car is not good enough to fight for wins yet. I do wonder if he plans to leave the team for a swansong at another top team.

33

He didn’t want to commit to Mclaren when they said that they wanted him to be driving for them for as long as possible, saying something about wanting to be flexible, definitely a change from a couple of years ago

He must now look over at hamilton and be thinking I wonder can I get a move to a better team and a big pay rise too

34

Once again DiResta blamed his team for his poor performance. What class act.

35

They did screw it up for him, but it’s not like they consistently do it, so why air the dirty laundry? Di.Resta has to keep that internal. His engineer apologized to him over the radio, said the whole session was a “mess”. It sucks for him, but maybe he can show some good passing out of the tunnel, or with DRS up to St Devote.

Does he really think any big team would like the thought of their driver criticizing the team if things don’t go absolutely perfect? That was a very hard Q1 session.

36

His Team came on the radio & apologised for messing up his qualifying -wrong tyres at wet Q1.

Class team.

37

Everyone keeps saying hamy should back up the pack ? what if his in front of rosberg ? i think he will be off up the road…..

get the feeling a nervous monaco start on rosbergs side will leave vettel following hamy past, alonso and kimi will pick up the pieces and get solid points. unfortunatly for merc they will always hit traffic after a stop at monaco. its guna be a gooden !

38

Nico Rosberg is fast, genuinely fast. His pace against Schumacher was no fluke. And a 43 year Schumacher matching and at times out driving Rosberg goes to prove that Schumacher did really well given his age, and a 3 years sabbatical.

If Mercedes can give Rosberg an equal footing as Hamilton, i expect Nico to give Hamilton a run for his money.

39

On the point of Nico being the first driver to win at the same circuit as his father, though have a particular race in mind, it seems almost inconceivable statistically, the Jacques did NOT win a race that Gilles won before him, non?

The race:

Based on recent trend, and taking into account the peculiarities of Monte Carlo, Vettel passes back Mercedes within first lap,; (unfortunately) Alonso roars past Kimi, possibly passing the trailing Mercedes within the first lap.

Alonso hounding Vettel to the slowing lead Mercedes, then blowing past when he has to pit around lap 12-15. Kimi follows at tire preserving distance, outlasts all in front of him by ten laps or more, Lotus pace improves, compared to others, during the race, but comes under severe attack by two-stopping Alonso and Vettel; can the Lotus really last a one-stopper?

If they can, then Kimi can win.

If not (slightly more likely) I’m going with Vettel, who successfully scored redemption points (from the fall associated with the Webber pass), saying that he reason he didn’t make pole position was because of himself!

Eh? Not bad, eh?

That garners a bit of respect, even grudgingly, where I come from.

I’d bet on a safety car.

There really is more tension on the grid, than the average year.

I’ve been surprised by the low number of ‘incidents’ so far this season.

But that will end tomorrow; (I just can’t really see an alternative path in the crystal ball free from splinters of carbon fibre!)

I have high expectations of a classic Monanco in the making.

Go team with the lowest budget and the coolest driver, go!

40

Hi Dean,

Since you asked Damon Hill won a few races his dad won, the first of them being the 1993 Italian GP, both at Monza. Both won the German and Spanish races, but at different circuits.

Jack and Gill both won the Spanish race too. Gilles won at Jarama (as did Graham), while Jacques won at Barcelona (as did Damon).

If you count Grands Prix prior to the world championship then the 1952 Belgian GP would be an earlier contender as Antonio won in 1925 and Alberto Ascari in 1952, both at Spa. There may be others.

Enjoy the race. I’m doing my best to remove my prejudices and biases when watching. I’m not always succeeding 😉

41

thanx for the great reply

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