Monaco Qualifying: Rosberg takes pole in tense shootout

Nico Rosberg will start the Monaco GP from pole position

Nico Rosberg will start the Monaco GP from pole position

Nico Rosberg powered to pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix after a tense qualifying session where wet conditions played havoc with strategy and threw up some surprises along the way, but nothing deterred the Mercedes driver who has been unbeatable around the principality this weekend so far.

Having topped the timing sheets in all three free practice sessions, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Rosberg – who grew up and still lives in Monte Carlo – would be the man to beat. Although the scenario did transpire it was by no means straightforward thanks to intermittent drizzle, and a damp patches throughout the hour session.

Everyone started Q1 with intermediate tyres, but as the Q2 and Q3 evolved the red stripe Pirelli soft tyres were unwrapped and would be used to decide the outcome when it mattered.

Monaco pole winner Nico Rosberg celebrates

Monaco pole winner Nico Rosberg celebrates

In the dying moments of Q3 Lewis Hamilton’s final run saw the Englishman top the timing screens, but moments later Rosberg’s best time of 1:13.876 was good enough to claim top spot on the grid, and crucially the most important pole starting slot on the Formula 1 calendar. Fourth pole in a row so far this season for the Silver Arrows…

Rosberg said afterwards, “It definitely could have been easier. The conditions were all over the place, and then it started drizzling again so the lap times got a lot slower. It was changing so much – you have to be on the right tyres at the right time. Everything when to plan and the last lap went OK.”

Hamilton who has played second fiddle to his teammate all weekend revealed, “I’ve been struggling all weekend and my pace has been slacking. I’ve struggled with the car and this is the first time that’s happened since 2005. It’s been a difficult weekend so I’m happy to have been able to lock out the front row for the team. It’s been a massive improvement for me.”

Lewis Hamilton will start second

Lewis Hamilton will start from second on the grid

World championship leader Sebastian Vettel was third fastest in the Red Bull. The top three were separated by less than 0.100 seconds, and the trio were the only ones to dip below the 74 seconds barrier all weekend.

Vettel summed up his afternoon, “It was very close. Mercedes were very quick all weekend. We know they’re quick one lap. I don’t want that to sound like an accuse. There was more than a tenth missing – I think I had that today, but it didn’t come together on the last lap. If anyone is to blame, then it’s me. The car was very good. I’m not entirely happy with my last lap but happy there’s not a Lotus or Ferrari ahead so therefore sitting in third I think is still a good result and should be a good opportunity to win the race.”

Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber is set to line up alongside him in fourth, making it an all Red Bull second row.

Up next in fifth was Kimi Raikkonen, who has appeared uncomfortable all weekend in the Lotus. He was a mere 0.002 seconds quicker than Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. The pair almost a full second down on the top time.

Fernando Alonso eyes rival 'weapons' in parc ferme after qualifying

Fernando Alonso eyes rival ‘weapons’ in parc ferme after qualifying

The Maranello squad compromised with Felipe Massa failing to do a lap in qualifying after a big shunt in FP3 virtually destroyed his F138. He watched proceedings from the pit garage. The Brazilian will line up last on the grid.

Making the most of the conditions were McLaren who made the right calls throughout the session, resulting in seventh place for Sergio Perez and ninth for Jenson Button.

Adrian Sutil recovered well from his FP3 shunt and will start from eighth on the grid, splitting the Mclaren duo.

Jean Eric Vergne made it into Q3 for the first time this season in the Toro Rosso, out qualifying his teammate Daniel Ricciardo (13th) for the first time since Melbourne. He was also best placed Frenchman in the field in what is about as close to a home race they will have this season.

Biggest smile of the day was a toss up between pole winner Rosberg and Caterham’s rookie Giedo van der Garde. The Dutchman was the toast of the paddock as he got the better of the conditions to progress into Q2 for the first time.

Giedo van der Garde had his best showing to date in Monaco qualifying

Giedo van der Garde had his best showing to date in Monaco qualifying

At one stage Van der Garde was sixth on the timing screens, as he was one of the first to bolt on soft tyres. he will start the race from 15th which induced high fives and bouts of back slapping in the Caterham pit garage where team boss Tony Fernandes was in attendance for the first time this season.

After three shunts to his name in the three free practice sessions all eyes were on Romain Grosjean in qualifying. The Lotus driver having to wait as mechanics finished repairs to his car until the last few minutes of Q3 before he was unleashed out on to the track. Quite remarkably his first flying lap put him top of the timing screens at a time when the track was very tricky. He made it into Q2, but fumbled his hot lop and did not progress into the final stanza. He will start from 13th on the grid.

Much was made of Pastor Maldonado being a Monaco ‘specialist’, but when the pressure was on he fluffed his lines and will start from 16th, bettered by his rookie teammate Valtteri Bottas, 14th fatsest, who had never raced at Monaco prior to this weekend.

Considering he at one stage topped the timing screens in Q1, it was big disappointment and early shower for Paul di Resta who failed to make into Q2 in a classic tale of bad timing when the strategy calls were made.

Nico Rosberg celebrates pole

Nico Rosberg celebrates pole

In closing it is noteworthy that thirty years ago Rosberg’s dad, Keke won the 1983 Monaco GP. When asked about the possibility of being the first son of a former winner, the Mercedes driver said, “It’s always nice to hear statistics like that, but It doesn’t change much for tomorrow. I’m very happy. In Barcelona we were struggling lot in the race and I finished 70 seconds behind the winner. We’re improving step by step, but there are still a lot of questions remaining. It’s still our weakness, but we’ll make the best of it and who knows.”

Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying – Saturday, 25 May 2013

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.620 1:16.135 1:13.876 31
2 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:23.779 1:16.265 1:13.967 31
3 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:24.243 1:15.988 1:13.980 29
4 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:25.352 1:17.322 1:14.181 30
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:25.835 1:16.040 1:14.822 31
6 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:23.712 1:16.510 1:14.824 32
7 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:24.682 1:17.748 1:15.138 31
8 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:25.108 1:17.261 1:15.383 29
9 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.744 1:17.420 1:15.647 29
10 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:23.699 1:17.623 1:15.703 29
11 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:25.547 1:18.331 22
12 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:24.852 1:18.344 23
13 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:23.738 1:18.603 13
14 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:24.681 1:19.077 22
15 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:26.095 1:19.408 21
16 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:23.452 1:21.688 22
17 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:26.322 14
18 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:26.633 13
19 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.917 12
20 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:27.303 13
DNQ 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth No time 1
DNQ 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari No time 0
Q1 107% Time 1:29.293
  • F1 Neutral

    This will be interesting. I wonder if Mercedes will do what McLaren did in Melbourne 1998 and say “whoever makes it to the first corner first, wins the race”. In ’98, Coulthard having to controversially pull aside for Hakkinen to win the race.

    Lewis is coping well in his new team, but Nico is thriving in his 4th Mercedes car, and egos will be high. No doubt one will have to hold the pack up while the other pits, and vice versa.
    The only snag would be if the cars don’t end up 1-2 after turn 1. Then I think a Redbull will take it.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    Alonso cheap driver. 6th on a driver circuit with the best car at hand.

  • Steve

    It doesn’t really matter if a Merc wins this – the important question will be the relative finishing position of Seb, Kimi, and Nando.

    Rosberg qualified second and finished second at Monaco last year, so it’s a good track for Mercedes.

  • F1 Neutral

    Alonso_is_slow with his usual ignorant stupid remarks.

  • Steve

    The good news for Alonso is that his teammate Mark Webber is right in front of him and will let him past!

  • Steve

    It was another poor qualifying run by Alonso. The annoying thing is that the entire sport of F1 is being redesigned to accommodate this one drivers weaknesses.

  • Hawk

    @Steve
    If u say Monaco is a Mercedes circuit, why didn’t they win Shanghai this year? Last year’s Merc also had its merits wc this year’s Merc does not have. Therefore do not compare last year’s Merc performance to this year, otherwise where would McLaren be?

  • Lols

    Hamilton looks more sour with every ass whooping hes getting from Nico, haha.

    Hamilton looks more and more like a black Villeneuve.

    Funny fact: Webber easily beat Rosberg in the same team, which means Vettel would make pasta out of Hammy.

  • Lol.

    @Lols

    Webber destroyed rosberg? Are you retarded?

    Webber scored 7 points all year, rosberg scored 4. It was also Rosberg’s rookie season.

    Your comment combined with steve and the ever-irritating alonso is slow is evidence of the demise of yallaf1

  • hillside

    nice, Mercs in front again… hope it rains hard tomorrow

  • Steve

    “Webber scored 7 points all year, rosberg scored 4″

    Qualifying. In 18 races, Webber out-qualified Rosberg 13 times. I’ve long suspected that Webber is about as quick in qualifying as Hamilton, but maybe he’s actually quicker, based on Nico’s performance.

  • Steve

    At Monaco in 2006 Webber qualified second, front row of the grid. His teammate, Nico Rosberg, qualified 8th.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    @f1_ignorant
    everyone knows Monaco is a driver track. And yet alonso is no more than 6th while having the best car at the moment.

    time to grow up for you. all you do here is trying to say nothing and seem to be wise, which unfortunately does not happen.

  • Hehe

    @Lol, well Button had more points than Hamilton over 3 seasons so clearly Button is the better driver. Following your points argument ;)

    Rosberg was nowhere beside Webber. The same Webber that says he is at its peak and beaing easily beaten by Vettel. WHile Rosberg is matching and beating Hamilton.

    1+1= Vettel better than Hamilton :P

  • JuniorJohnson

    2
    Hi guys its a nice day isint it.I told you guys before how good Rozberg is.He is probly the fastest piloter in f1.I mean yes he beat Shu okay but we know Shu was already old and probly can not move so fast any more or at least move his fingers as fast. It is posibil that Shu could not see so well any more but any ways what im trying to say is that young Shu was blister fast and the very best of the best.Now we have his young protighay blazing through a trail.I told you when he won in china wow this guy is so fast imagine what he can do in a red bull!