Monaco is the most awaited GP on the Formula1 calendar. Street circuits separate the men from the boys and driving around the narrow streets of Monaco does need some guts. I missed going to Monaco this year, but there’s always a next time!
Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing clinched their 5th pole of the season. The only GP they missed pole this year was at the Chinese GP.
Here are a few observations from Monaco GP qualifying:
- Qualifying is important in Monaco as a higher starting position can yield a better result than tyre strategy. After all, it is extremely difficult to overtake in Monaco.
- Both HRT drivers didn’t participate in qualifying due to car troubles. Tonio Liuzzi’s FP3 crash meant that his car wasn’t ready on time for qualifying. Narain Karthikeyan’s car was detected with suspension problems post FP3 that kept him away. However, the HRT drivers will be allowed to start the race tomorrow since their practice laptime set was within the 107% target.
- Team Lotus Racing has shown improved pace this season and both drivers qualified ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jamie Alguesuari. Their pace was half a second quicker than the Red Bull B team driver.
- Many teams used the super soft tyres in the Q1 segment of qualifying. This is probably because the soft tyre is the more preferred tyre in the race. Force India, Mercedes, Sauber and Renault were a few teams that experimented with the super soft tyre.
- WilliamsF1 rookie and GP2 winner Pastor Maldonado, who is considered to be a Monaco specialist, out-qualified his much experienced team-mate Rubens Barrichello.
- Paul di Resta managed to out-qualify Adrian Sutil yet again this year. Sutil accused Vitaly Petrov of blocking him during qualifying. The drivers were separated by less than a hundredth of a second.
- Virgin Racing’s Timo Glock was only 6 tenths off the pace of the Team Lotus cars. This is the closest that they have been all season. Jerome d’Ambrosio was 8 tenths slower than Glock and he is yet to impress this season.
- Lotus Renault GP had brought updates to Monaco and believed that they could challenge for top pace. However, both drivers failed to make it through to Q3 of qualifying. Petrov qualified in 11th, 5 slots ahead of Nick Heidfeld.
- F1 rookies Pastor Maldonado, Paul di Resta and Sergio Perez did a commendable job to qualify ahead of their team-mates.
- Sergio Perez made his first ever Q3 appearance, but was short-lived after he suffered from a massive shunt while exiting the tunnel, under braking for the chicane. Perez was hospitalized and he is said to be suffering from concussion and has no fractures.
- This weekend we’ve seen a number of crashes in practice and qualifying. Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Sergio Perez were amongst a few drivers who suffered from crashes.
- Mclarens had the pace to challenge the mighty Red Bulls and Lewis Hamilton showcased that in Q1 and Q2 of qualifying. However in Q3, the team seemed to get it all wrong. Firstly, they planned only one run for Lewis, attempting to save a set of tyres. However, Lewis’ lap was affected by Perez’s crash and hence was unable to set a competitive time. Mclaren’s strategy was fine, just that on a circuit like Monaco, you would rather set your time and wait than plan a last minute qualifying attempt.
- Secondly, both Mclarens, in an attempt to get a clear track, queued up at the pit lane exit over two minutes prior to resuming of the qualifying session. As a result, their tyre temperatures dropped, directly affecting their grip levels, which ultimately affected their lap times. Hamilton clocked the 7th fastest lap time, but will start tomorrow’s race from 9th position as he cut the chicane on his fastest lap, which ultimately led to deletion.
- Jenson Button was only 4 tenths away from Sebastian Vettel and will start tomorrow race from the second position. Button’s last front row start was at the 2010 Italian GP.
- Fernando Alonso will start tomorrow’s race 4th and his qualifying pace was almost a second off Vettel. Massa will start 6th and on the third row alongside Michael Schumacher.
The Monaco GP has seen unexpected results in the past and I am hoping that Button, Webber and Alonso can challenge for victory tomorrow.