Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 28. toukokuuta 2016

Monaco GP / Qualifying: Maiden pole for Red Bull´s Ricciardo!

Today´s qualifying in the streets of the Principality was quite eventful -and not only in a good way, when looking things from my personal point of view. Q1 was only moments old, with drivers still on their out laps, when the Ferrari engine in Nasr´s Sauber blew up exiting the tunnel. Out came the red flag, but the session resumed shortly after the marshals´ rapid clean-up job. Unfortunately this wasn´t the only red flag incident during the first segment. Red Bull´s Verstappen went over the final exit kerb in the swimming pool section and then impacted with the outer wall at Turn 16. Only a moment earlier the Dutchman had hit the inner wall of Turn 15 with his right-front wheel, damaging the track rod and leaving himself a passenger. What a disappointing moment! Verstappen had also hit the barriers in the FP3 in the morning, which shows, how rapidly the glory of winning a GP can disappear. Verstappen crashing out in Q1 was definitely something I wouldn´t have wanted to see! Especially because -in terms of pace- Red Bull seemed to continue where they left off in Spain! In Q1 Sebastian was topping the timesheets with Mercedes´ Hamilton and Rosberg two-tenths down on the German Ferrari ace. Out of Q2 were Sauber´s Ericsson, Renault´s Palmer (his teammate Magnussen made Q2) and the Manors of Haryanto and Wehrlein. However, Magnussen is under investigation for exiting the pits against a red light.

To put it shortly: Mercedes owned Q2. Hamilton put together a stunning lap, being four-tenths faster than his closest rivals Rosberg, Ricciardo and Sebastian. Kimi, on the other hand, seemed to struggle with the new ultra soft tyres especially in the second sector. Worth noting is the fact, that Red Bull´s Ricciardo set his fastest lap time on the red-marked super soft tyres, which means the Australian will start to the race on the very same tyres. At the end of the second segment Rosberg stormed to the lead; only 13 thousandths of a second separating him from his second-placed teammate. Sebastian was third and Kimi 5th. Williams´ Bottas was the first faller in Q2. Out were also his teammate Massa, both Haas drivers, McLaren´s Button and Renault´s Magnussen. The narrow streets of Monte Carlo definitely don´t suit Williams this year, either.

The beginning of Q3 was quite dramatic: Hamilton complained of no power on the pit lane, and his Mercedes was wheeled back to the pits. Once again there were technical gremlins for the reigning world champion - this time thought to be fuel-pressure related. Meantime, Red Bull´s Ricciardo put together a smashing lap and snatched the provisional pole by a one-second gap to the Ferraris! Hamilton was able to come out, when there were still 6 minutes in the clock. However, Daniel Ricciardo was utterly unstoppable today! Although the Australian was unable to improve his lap time on his second run, Rosberg had to settle for being the runner-up today. Finally Hamilton was able to jump from 10th to 3rd after his technical difficulties. Sebastian qualified 4th, being nine-tenths down on pole-setter Ricciardo! Hulkenberg in his Force India made a brilliant job by finishing 5th, and Kimi had to settle for P6 today. Nevertheless, the Iceman will face a 5-place grid drop for tomorrow´s race due to a gearbox change! Sainz was Toro Rosso´s faster runner, and the Spaniard qualified 7th, Force India´s Perez 8th, Kvyat 9th and Alonso 10th.

This was the first pole for Red Bull Racing since the Brazilian GP in 2013, and also the maiden pole for Daniel Ricciardo! Ricciardo´s pace has seemed absolutely impressive this weekend. He´s the one with the new spec Renault engine in his RB12 this weekend, whereas Verstappen has to settle for the old spec engine. Everyone is expecting to see a one-stop race in spite of the ultra soft tyres. However, Ricciardo starting on the super soft tyres, might spice up the race and make it even more interesting. Also, weather forecast says there might rain in Monaco tomorrow! The key point in Monaco is to keep away from the barriers, which is everything but easy, especially if it rains! Overtaking will be extremely difficult, so let´s see, what Sebastian will be capable of starting from P4. Kimi has it even more difficult down in P11... Not to mention Max, who will start from the very back of the grid! Nevertheless, I´m looking forward to a memorable race... hopefully dominated by the red cars with a little twist of blue ;) Forza Ferrari!

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