For the first time since 2008, Kimi Raikkonen has put his Ferrari on pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix, the race that arguably can be won on Saturdays. The hour-long session was a thrilling battle to be fastest, with Ferrari never really pulling out the advantage they showed in free practice. However, they still held the advantage to take the first Ferrari one-two race start of the season.
The top three were covered by 0.045 seconds when the chequered flag dropped on the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix qualifying, with Valtteri Bottas the only other driver to be on pace with the Ferraris this afternoon, just 0.002 seconds off the time second-placed Sebastian Vettel set. Raikkonen took pole position with a staggering 1:12.178, setting the fastest lap that has been seen around the Monte Carlo street circuit this weekend.
However, Lewis Hamilton had a torrid time today, unable to hook the car up as he wanted to. He struggled to find the speed he needed to keep up with the front runners with apparent set-up issues being the main cause of his woes. Leaving his flying lap to the final moments of Q2, Hamilton was unable to set a time that put him any higher than fourteenth as a crash from Stoffel Vandoorne put a stop to any final improvements in the second qualifying session. It will be a hard day for the British Mercedes driver tomorrow as, after some grid penalties are handed out, he will start thirteenth.
With Hamilton not in the top ten shoot out, McLaren optimised on the fact that Monaco is not dependent on engine power and put both cars into Q3 for the first time this season. However, Vandoorne was unable to participate in his first Q3appearancee as he crashed out in the same style as Ocon did in free practice three at the end of Q2. With his three-place grid drop from crashing into Felipe Massa during the Spanish Grand Prix, Vandoorne starts tomorrow twelfth.
Jenson Button had a strong performance in his one-off qualifying, placing his McLaren ninth on the grid. But the woes have not left McLaren as Button picked up a fifteen-place drop after changing his engine yesterday. He will start his Monaco Grand Prix at the back of the grid.
Three-tenths off the pace of the top three, Max Verstappen ended the session in a competitive fourth, a decent half a second faster than his teammate Daniel Ricciardo in fifth. Carlos Sainz Jr continued to show the impressive performance that Toro Rosso has brought along this weekend and ended sixth, much higher than his teammate who could not make it through to the top ten shoot out. Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean finished seventh and eighth respectively.
Daniil Kvyat, Nico Hulkenberg and Hamilton were three of the drivers unable to improve on their Q2 times due to Vandoorne’s crash in the Swimming Pool Chicane. Kvyat and Hulkenberg get promoted to the bottom two places of the top ten after the McLaren duo take their penalties ahead of tomorrow’s race. Kevin Magnussen will start eleventh, just outside of the top ten.
It was a shame for Esteban Ocon, who was knocked out of Q1 by a last lap improvement from Romain Grosjean. Force India worked tirelessly to get the car back out after it had been crashed this morning and it had looked like the Frenchman would just get through. The session was very messy for Grosjean, who had multiple spins during the session. However, he managed to get what he needed out of the car to get a spot in the top ten.
Williams appear to be having a difficult weekend, as they usually do around the tight streets of the Principality. Massa was unable to set a time any better than fifteenth, now promoted to fourteenth as Button drops to the back of the grid. Lance Stroll fared even worse than his older teammate, unable to get out of Q1. He qualified eighteenth ahead of tomorrow’s race after a hydraulic leak caused his Q1 session to end before the chequered flag.
Jolyon Palmer had another poor qualifying, finishing seventeenth ahead of Stroll. The two Saubers ended at the bottom of the time sheet, with Pascal Wehrlein managing to set a faster lap than his teammate. However, the session ended early for Marcus Ericsson as he touched the barrier at Nouvelle chicane on his final lap of the session. He finished Q1 with his car stationary on the escape road with a broken left-rear wheel.