Monaco GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
And the winner of the Monaco Grand Prix is..,
And the winner of the Monaco Grand Prix is almost certainly going to be Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton or Daniel Ricciardo. A mere three of the past 31 Monaco Grands Prix have been won by a driver qualifying outside the top three, so it is a good bet that one of this three will win the 2014 edition of the race.
However, race officials decided to investigate Rosberg's rather dubious off track excursion at the end of Q3, and they could strip away his pole.
The ambient temperature at the start of the session was 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Centigrade.)
Nico Rosberg was the first out in his Mercedes in the 18-minute Q1. He also set the first decent time - 1:17.938 - while his Mercedes teammate posted a 1:18.751. Both were on the soft compound Pirellis.
7 minutes into the session, Daniil Kvyat's Toro Rosso got wobbly coming out of the chicane and he spun into the barrier nose first.
10 minutes into the session, every driver had set a time except Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel.
With 8 minutes left in the session, Ricciardo, on softs, moved to third ahead of Romain Grosjean who went fourth quickest in his Lotus on the super soft tires.
With 4 minutes remaining in the session, only Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) was not on the track as Kevin Magnussen ran straight on in Turn 1 in his McLaren.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, Jenson Button moved his McLaren into third place
With 1 minute remaining in the session, Jean-Eric Vergne moved his Toro Rosso into the top spot.
Meanwhile Marcus Ericsson slid his Caterham into Felipe Massa's Williams at Mirabeau. Massa got going but stopped at Turn 8.
Everybody except the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers used super soft tires to set their times.
The top six at the end of Q1 were: Vergne, Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso, Button and Ricciardo.
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q1 were: Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber), Adrian Sutil (Sauber), Jules Bianchi (Marussia), Max Chilton (Marussia), Kamui Kobayashi (Caterham) and Ericsson.
Rosberg, on the super soft Pirellis, was the first out for the 15 minute Q2.
Nico Hulkenberg posted a 1:17.931 in his Force India, but Ricciardo beat that with 1:17.769 which he later lowered to a 1:17.233.
Rosberg and Hamilton responded with times of 1:16.682 and 1:16.717 respectively to drop Ricciardo to third. Ferrari teammates Alonso and Raikkonen were fourth and fifth.
With 8 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel was way down in 15th place. With 6 minutes remaining in the session, he jumped up to fourth with a 1:17.302.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, everybody was on track except for poor Massa whose car was stranded after that Q1 clash.
Hulkenberg was in 10th place and on the bubble, while Jenson Button was 11th.
With less than one minute remaining in the session, Hamilton took first with a 1:16.354 as Alonso moved up to third.
In the final moments, Vergne moved up to eighth, which dropped Hulkenberg to 11th. Vettel, meanwhile, jumped to third.
The top 10 at the end of Q2 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Kvyat, Magnussen, Vergne and Sergio Perez (Force India.)
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Hulkenberg, Button, Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Maldonado (Lotus) and Massa.
This was it. The winner in Monaco rarely comes from beyond third place on the grid, so going well in the Q3 session was vital.
With 11 minutes remaining in the 12 minute session, Perez headed out followed by the Ferrari drivers. Soon all 10 drivers were on the track.
Perez posted a 1:18.327. Raikkonen beat it with a 1:18.132. Then Vergne swooped past with a 1:18.030.
With 7 minutes remaining in the session, Alonso set a 1:16.792. Rosberg responded with a 1:15.989 while Hamilton took second with a 1:16.048. Ricciardo was third with a 1:16.384 and Vettel fourth with a 1:16.547.
Alonso and Raikkonen were fifth and sixth, Vergne seventh, Magnussen eighth, Perez ninth and Kvyat 10th.
That was the order with four minutes to go.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, everybody was on the track.
With 30 seconds to go, Rosberg locked his brakes and slid off at Turn 5. Hamilton had to back off because of the yellow flags, and thus Rosberg kept the pole ahead of Hamilton and Ricciardo.
"Not the way I want it," Rosberg said. "I thought I had ruined it. But I am happy with pole, it's fantastic and I hope for more tomorrow. I definitively disadvantaged Lewis and the others, but it was a genuine mistake. Of course I'm sorry for Lewis I didn't know where he was. Of course it's not great.
"It's not an ideal way to end qualifying. I thought it was over - I thought the track would ramp up and someone else could beat my time. I'm happy it worked out. Pole at home is fantastic - it couldn't be better."
Hamilton was not amused.
"There isn't much to say," he said, "the damage was done. I was a couple of tenths up before the yellow flag. I'll just have a look later. Yes, it's ironic to get pole position by going off..."
Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, Vergne, Magnussen, Kvyat and Perez rounded out the top 10.