Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 24. toukokuuta 2015

Monaco GP / Qualifying: Long-awaited first-ever pole in Monte Carlo for Hamilton!

I was certainly looking forward to a thrilling qualifying as Mercedes had been beaten to the fastest time by Ferrari in FP3. And qualifying definitely threw up several surprises. Like expected Mercedes and Ferrari didn't have to run on the supersofts in Q1. Still the Mercedes duo were the fastest men on track with Rosberg having the upper hand on his home streets. The Ferrari duo Vettel and Räikkönen sat out the second runs but this time this risky tactics paid off. All the others made their second runs on the supersofts. One of the surprises was to see Toro Rosso's Verstappen making it as high as 3rd in Q1! Toro Rosso's pace had looked good already in the free practice sessions. Both Sauber and Marussia drivers were out of Q2 but the highest profile casualty in Q1 was Valtteri Bottas, who struggled with heavy understeering issues.

Q2 saw everyone out on the red-marked super soft tyres. Alonso in his McLaren was completely out of luck in the second session gliding to a halt on the exit to Sainte Devote when his MP4-30 switched itself off. His team-mate Button on the other hand had promising pace but couldn't quite make it into the final session. Rosberg went wide going into turn one on his second attempt triggering yellow flags, which ruined Button's last flying lap. Rosberg and Hamilton were once again topping the timesheets followed by Vettel and Räikkönen. Grosjean in his E23 was the first man to miss out on Q3. The Frenchman has also been handed a 5-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change so he'll drop down to P16. Button, Hulkenberg and Massa were also dumped out in Q2. Not a very flattering moment for the Williams team: for the first time this year Williams weren't represented in the pole shootout!

By the start of Q3 there was a slight chance of rain so everyone rushed out when the final and decisive session got underway. Everyone else except the Toro Rosso duo were on a new set of super soft tyres. Just as it appeared Rosberg had the upper hand, the Mercedes team-mates' fortunes turned again. Hamilton took the provisional pole. After the first attempts Kimi was only down in 9th place! Kimi hadn't had a problem-free weekend this time, either. The Iceman had walloped the wall at Sainte Devote and punctured a tyre in FP3. In Q3 the Finn had again touched the wall on his first run. Kimi had complained of oversteering. Perez in his Force India had to sit out the second runs because he had run out of tyres. Rosberg blew his final effort by locking up heavily once again at Ste Devote. So Hamilton grabbed the long-awaited first-ever pole in Monte Carlo! Rosberg was three tenths off his team-mate's pace. In spite of the promising pace in FP3 Sebastian had no chance to challenge the Mercedes duo in the qualifying. The German had to settle for third on the grid. Red Bull were back on form on the streets of the Principality and Ricciardo and Kvyat were very evenly matched. Ricciardo qualified 4th and Kvyat 5th ahead of the Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen in P6. Sebastian and Kimi were separated by 6 tenths of a second, which caught me by surprise. Perez qualified 7th, Sainz 8th, Maldonado 9th and Verstappen was left in P10. Sainz, however, has to start to the race from the pit lane because the Spaniard failed to stop at the FIA weighbridge in Q1.

The race will get underway in a few hours' time. I'm afraid the win will be firmly within Hamilton's grasp if only the Briton doesn't fail at the start. Monaco is known for minimal chances for overtaking so strategy plays a decisive role. I'd be absolutely delighted if Sebastian could split the Mercedes at the end of the race! Kimi on the other hand must succeed at the start. The Iceman has to make his way past both Red Bulls if he wants to take part in the battle for the podium places! It has proved to be very difficult for Kimi to put together a problem-free weekend this season but luckily the Iceman tends to be on fire when the race day arrives. I'm sure Kimi will offer us an awesome show also today! I have a hunch that Rosberg will be in trouble with his team-mate and that there will be no stopping Hamilton from winning today.

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