What We Learned From Monaco Qualifying
Saturday 24-May-2014 14:54 Current Qualifying scores:
Hamilton 4 - 2 Rosberg
Ricciardo 5 - 1 Vettel
Button 3 - 3 Magnussen
Alonso 3 - 3 Raikkonen
Hulkenberg 4 - 2 Perez
Massa 3 - 3 Bottas
Vergne 4 - 2 Kvyat
Sutil 2 - 4 Gutierrez
Grosjean 6 - 0 Maldonado
Kobyashi 5 - 1 Ericsson
Bianchi 4 - 2 Chilton
There were jokes going round the paddock prior to qualifying that Pirelli's 'SuperSoft' new tyre could be driven on the cars all the way back to London. With the new level of hardness that Pirelli have introduced this year the SuperSofts needed at least one lap (with a 42C track temperature) to get warmed up!
Nico Rosberg missed his braking point into Mirabeau on his final hot lap and got pole by default. His trip down the escape road brought out the yellow flags and ruined Lewis Hamilton's final attempt to get pole off him after the German had come second best in Q2. And you can bet your life that Hamilton and his engineer Pete Bonnington will look at the traces to see exactly where Nico braked compared to his previous laps. In fact half an hour after Qualifying ended, the timing screens reported that the incident with Rosberg was being investigated. Shades of 2006. Daniel Ricciardo continued his stellar qualifying form against his four-times World Champion team-mate, making the season total an incredible 5-1. Daniel's Monaco race record isn't that impressive as he has never finished the race.
Q1 was a busy session for the stewards, at the end of it they had outstanding cases to adjudicate: Perez vs Gutierrez, Maldonado vs Kvyat and Ericsson vs Massa. Felipe Massa left Marcus Ericsson a gap at Mirabeau and the hapless Caterham driver crashed into the Williams driver instead, eliminating him from taking part in Q2.
Daniel Kvyat had another impressive qualifying performance, recovering from a spin down into the tunnel chicane (nouvelle chicane) where he lost his nose during Q1. This didn't faze the young Russian driver and both he and Jean-Eric Vergne made it into Q3. Kvyat's Q2 time of 1:17.594 was almost as fast as team-mate JEV's 1:17.540 in Q3.
Jenson Button got traffic with Jean-Eric Vergne that hindered his fastest lap in Q2, but will still be mightily embarrassed to be outqualified by Kevin Magnussen who hadn't driven an F1 car at Monaco before. Though McLaren do have a very fine simulator.
The stratification of cars that we saw clearly in Barcelona (teams lining up 2 x 2) was even more evident in FP3 in Monaco. At the end of the final practice session it was: Mercedes 1st and 3rd, Red Bull 2nd and 4th, Ferrari 5th and 6th, Force India 7th and 8th, Toro Rosso 9th and 10th, McLaren 11th and 12th, Williams 13th and 14th.
Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, who qualified 6th in Barcelona, and Pastor Maldonado, who's ususally fast around Monaco, showed that the Lotus E22 has yet to crack tight, twisty circuits.
Don't be surprised to see two damaged Mercedes cars at Ste Devote on Lap 1 tomorrow (if the result stays the same). The body language following the post-qualifying press conference was the worst there's been. A strategic move by Mercedes team management might be to instruct Rosberg to hand the lead to Hamilton at Turn 1 as he only took pole by default and Hamilton was up on his final lap.
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