Monaco GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Jenson Button took pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix and with a decent level of fuel in his car, things were looking very positive for the World Championship leader. Button started practice setting some lacklustre lap times but things improved.
"This car listens to changes," he said "I was really struggling just having no front end on the car. We changed a few things and it has improved the car dramatically especially on the prime tyre. I couldn‚Äö√Ñ√¥t get the prime tyre to work all weekend. I was a second off Rubens on the prime tyre, so we got it to work and the option was the same, so I‚Äö√Ñ√¥m so happy to be on pole here. It is a fantastic feeling because it was really on the edge the whole lap, every single corner. I really feel at home in this car. Even when things are bad you know you can make them better, so I am very happy. Very happy for myself and for the whole team. Rubens has been so bloody quick all weekend which is good for me. Having a team-mate who is not pushing you but is in front of you for the whole weekend does spur you on."
Button said that his pole lap was right on the limit
"I thought I was going to be in the harbour at one point," he said. "It was a good lap and I really did get everything out of the car. It is the best lap I have done this weekend."
He had slightly less fuel onboard that Barrichello but the difference was probably just a lap. He was third, the two men having been split on this occasion by Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari. The Finn looked like the Raikkonen of old and with a fuel load that was perhaps only a lap different to the Brawns he looked to be in a good place, although the tyre degradition on the Ferraris has generally been worse than the Brawns.
"The car is not bad here," he said. "It has been getting better as the circuit has been picking up grip and in qualifying the car was good. I had one more lap and I went off in the first corner, so I don‚Äö√Ñ√¥t know if it would have made any difference but it was a good result for us especially in this kind of place. It is nice to be second but still we lost the first place for a small margin but that‚Äö√Ñ√¥s what we are aiming for and once we get there I will be happy. But especially in this race. In any other race it maybe doesn‚Äö√Ñ√¥t make much difference but here the difference is much bigger between first and second."
Having KERS might be a help in the run to the first corner.
"It can maybe help a little bit but it‚Äö√Ñ√¥s such a short straight to the first corner, it‚Äö√Ñ√¥s very tight, it‚Äö√Ñ√¥s very difficult, you need to really have a jump," he said. "We will try what we can and see what happens. I‚Äö√Ñ√¥m only interested in winning, so I have nothing really to lose. OK, the team needs points but in the end they are happier with a win than just some points. We‚Äö√Ñ√¥re not really in the championship."
That sounded rather ominous.
Barrichello thought (once again) that he had Button beaten but Jenson pipped him again.
"I thought I had the upper hand on Jenson today," he said. "It was going very well and my lap on the end was very good. That‚Äö√Ñ√¥s why I congratulated him as he must have had a fantastic lap as my lap was really good and I am happy with it. There wasn‚Äö√Ñ√¥t anything more I could have done."
It was Rubens's 38th birthday, but Button was not handing out any presents.
"I love this place in qualifying and today my thought was ‚Äö√Ñ√≤Don‚Äö√Ñ√¥t leave anything, don‚Äö√Ñ√¥t leave even a hair for you to think "Oh, I should have done better".' I tell you, round the Swimming Pool I almost went flat through there. It was fantastic, I‚Äö√Ñ√¥m really proud of what I‚Äö√Ñ√¥ve achieved today. Unfortunately, it‚Äö√Ñ√¥s still a tenth away from pole but I‚Äö√Ñ√¥ve got to be happy."
Behind the front three was Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who had a very small fuel load. He was not happy, having been held up by Kazuki Nakajima on his final flying lap.
"If you want to get everything right here in qualifying you have to have a clear lap," he said. "It was a shame today as the car was good and we could have done better."
Things were better for Mark Webber in eighth, with around five laps more fuel than his team-mate.
Felipe Massa was fifth bu did not help his cause by crashing into the barriers in the Swimming Pool in Q1. Fortunately he got the car back to the pits and was able to go on with the session.
" I had new brakes and the harder tyres, which struggled a bit more to get up to temperature, so as soon as I touched the brakes, I locked the wheels and ended up against the guardrail," he explained. "We were in with a chance of getting into the top three, but I never managed to get a clean lap, partly because of traffic and partly through some small slip ups."
Behind Massa was Nico Rosberg, who was running pretty light in his Williams. For the first time both Williamses were in the top 10.
"I had some balance problems in the last run and some traffic, particularly with Barrichello on my fastest lap, so I didn‚Äö√Ñ√¥t manage to make the best of the circumstances," said Rosberg.
Nakajima had a great deal more fuel and so his 10th place on the grid was pretty good.
"Obviously grid position is crucial here and this is not a very easy track. I am confident I can have a good race tomorrow and our start position will certainly give me the chance to improve on our recent results," he said.
It was not a great day for McLaren with Heikki Kovalainen seventh on the grid but Lewis Hamilton down in 16th after a crash in Q1.
"I made a mistake," said Lewis. "I just braked too late - it‚Äö√Ñ√¥s unfortunate, but these things happen. It‚Äö√Ñ√¥s not been a good day: I had been going well all weekend and had the possibility of being on the front row. It‚Äö√Ñ√¥s a shame for the team."
Kovalainen had a smallish fuel load and so seventh was not great.
"Obviously, we wanted to be on pole but didn‚Äö√Ñ√¥t manage that," he said. "I touched the guardrails three times during qualifying and I‚Äö√Ñ√¥m lucky that it didn‚Äö√Ñ√¥t have any negative consequences."
Fernando Alonso was ninth but reckoned that the car would go no quicker.
"Our ninth place reflects where our car is at the moment," he said. "It‚Äö√Ñ√¥s clear that we still need to improve and find more speed."
Of the rest it was a disastrous qualifying for BMW and Toyota and so both will run with huge fuel loads. This will not help much.