Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix is everything and while the pole-sitter hasn’t won in the last three years, the odds are still very much in favor of the driver who can secure pole position.
With the softest tire on offer and track temperatures the highest they’ve been all weekend, grip and tire wear was going to be very important. Red Bull seemed to be on top of most fans favorites, but Max Verstappen’s car was out of qualifying as a gearbox issue was discovered just prior to the session. The issue was due to a crash in the final practice session on Saturday morning.
Initial runs left Daniel Ricciardo on top ahead of the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel with a 1:12.769. Kimi Raikkonen was blocked by a Mercedes in the tunnel on his first run according to Sky Sports F1’s commentary team.
As the drivers cycled around the track, the challenge was finding a good lap with no traffic and that’s always tough to do in Monaco. With just three minutes left, Kevin Magnussen was struggling to get a clear lap and Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was down in 16th so he had to find a clear lap. He got that lao and moved up to third.
The track was rubbering in with grip and times were tumbling with just a minute left. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg narrowly made it into Q2 with hometown hero, Charles Leclerc getting his Sauber in the Q2 as well. Ricciardo led the time sheets with a 1:12.013s. Brendon Hartley was impeded in the tunnel by a Force India on his final run and missed out on Q2.
Out in Q1- Hartley, Ericsson, Stroll, Magnussen and Verstappen.
Both Mercedes came out on the Ultrasofts and the team radioed that it would take a couple of laps to get the Ultra’s into the heat window. The thought was that the Hyper was a second per lap quicker but if teams could get through to Q1 using the Ultra’s, then they could start he race on the more durable tire. Ferrari and Red Bull chose to start the session to the Hypersofts.
Daniel Ricciardo came out and set a new track record with a 1:11.353s followed by Vettel and Raikkonen. Both Mercedes gambled on the harder compounds but languishing down in 11th and 14th meant they would have to pit and commit to the Hyper compounds. With five minutes left, both Mercedes went out on the Hypersoft to claw their way up toward the front.
Lewis Hamilton jumped up to third while Bottas moved to fifth putting the Renault of Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg on the bubble. Sainz managed to make it to Q3 but Nico did not. Up until this point, the McLaren’s had the measure of the Renault’s but Vandoorne missing Q3 by a tenth of a second was not optimum.
Out in Q2- Grosjean (“Fudge!”), Leclerc, Sirotkin, Hulkenberg, Vandoorne
Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley may have been impeded in Q2 but his teammate, Pierre Gasly managed to make it to Q3 along with both Force India’s. The cars came out at the start of the session on the Hypersoft tires.
In Q2, only three tenths of a second covered the top four cars so it was all going to be a very close affair for pole position. Ricciardo and Raikkonen came out at the same time for their initial runs. Both Mercedes led the charge with Bottas setting a 1:11.553 and Hamilton with a 1:11.261.
Ricciardo set his first time, a lap record, with a 1:10.810 (eventual pole position time) and Raikkonen in third. Sebastian Vettel did two warmup laps due to traffic and set the third fastest time that was four tenths off pole.
As Vettel trails Hamilton in the championship, it was critical that the German get ahead of Lewis regardless of what Ricciardo did. Up until the mid-point in Q3, the McLaren had the measure of the Renault but Carlos Sainz managed to put his car ahead of Alonso and the two Spaniards battled for position. In the end, it was Alonso beating the Renault.
Vettel moved up to second and Hamilton in third with Raikkonen in fourth but that left Daniel Ricciardo on pole for the Monaco Grand Prix. The Red Bulls were the team to beat for pole position and they telegraphed that all weekend long so perhaps no surprise they claimed top spot but Lewis Hamilton had a mighty effort for 3rd given Mercedes struggled all weekend long and he’s won in Monaco from third before.
|1||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m10.810s||–|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m12.061s||1.251s|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m12.154s||1.344s|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m12.221s||1.411s|
|15||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m13.179s||–|
|20||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||–||–|