Monaco GP 2011
MAY 28, 2011
Qualifying Report - Vettel claims Monaco pole
Sebastian Vettel (1:13.556) will start the Monaco GP from pole position after Sergio Perez's crash meant that the final minutes of the session, usually frenetic, proved an anticlimax.
With Pirelli's Paul Hembery saying on Thursday that the supersoft tyre, surprisingly, was taking two or three laps to get up to temperature, it meant that with just over two minutes of the session remaining after the red flag for Perez's accident, nobody stood a realistic chance of beating Vettel's early session best.
The man who looked most likely to was Lewis Hamilton, who had been two thousandths of a second quicker in Q2. Hamilton though, gambled on using just one set of supersofts in Q3 and paid the price when the interruption for Perez's accident meant that he could not use them. His one lap placed him seventh but he could lose that time after cutting the second chicane.
As has become the norm, Vettel found a huge amount of time in Q3, beating Hamilton's Q2 best by seven tenths to take his 20th career pole and his first at Monte Carlo.
"Qualifying here is tough," he said, "but we had good preparation and in Q3 my lap was spot on and I was really happy. The most important thing was to hear that Sergio was okay and conscious. We were waiting to go out and seeing the images as well. I've waited quite a time for a pole here. It's a bit of a casino at Monaco with a lot going on and, as we've seen with multiple pit stops this year, it can change at the last minute but pole position is very important."
Button (1:13.997) pipped Webber (1:14.019) to second on the grid by a couple of hundredths and confirmed that there was no chance of an improvement later in the session. "There just wasn't any tyre temperature then but the great thing was that I put in a great lap at the start of Q3, much better than my Q2 lap."
Webber, on pole here last year, had been playing catch-up since missing the first session on Thursday to gearbox trouble, and admitted: "If you'd offered me third before the start of the session I'd probably have taken it. Seb did a great lap again and deserves the pole and JB did a good lap as well."
Webber, like Vettel, said that it is never good to look at TV pictures of an injured driver, and brought up earlier crashes at the same place, to Button in 2003, when Jenson was hospitalised, and in 1994 -- an accident that effectively ended the F1 career of Karl Wendlinger. Webber said that it was a good decision from race director Charlie Whiting to remove the 'sleeping policemen' that had launched Rosberg in his accident during FP3, otherwise Perez may have suffered an even more serious impact.
Button added: "We all love racing here but I think we have to look at doing something to improve safety there in the future."
Fernando Alonso (1:14.483) had to be content with fourth on the grid after looking threatening in the Ferrari thus far, while Michael Schumacher, five times a previous winner at Monaco, lines up fifth (1:14.682).
Felipe Massa (1:14.877) qualified sixth with the second Ferrari, ahead of Hamilton (1:15.280) and Nico Rosberg (1:15.766) who did make it out after repairs to his heavily damaged car.
Pastor Maldonado (1:16.528), always an ace around Monaco, starts ninth after a great effort in the Williams, while Perez did a fine job to make it through to Q3 before his accident. The latest bulletin on his condition is that he is conscious and stable with no fractures, but is being kept in hospital under observation overnight.