2008 Monaco GP qualifying: Ferrari shock McLaren with front row lock-out

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Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Monte-Carlo, 2008, qualifying, 470150

A front-row lockout by Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen gave Ferrari their best chance of breaking their six-year losing streak at Monaco.

The red team seemed just as surprised to be on the front row of the grid as Lewis Hamilton did at being bumped back to third. A mere 0.052s covered the top three drivers.

Part one

Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault, Monte-Carlo, 2008, qualifying, 470313

The anticipated rain failed to materialise but the first part of qualifying saw an exciting scrap between the drivers vying to get through into the second part of qualifying.

Among those visibly struggling was Nelson Piquet Jnr who Renault looked ragged around the Monte-Carlo track. He came within centimetres of hitting the barrier of Portier.

Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen kept their laps to a minimum and were content to let their team mates go out chasing lap times and take over at the top. Felipe Massa led Heikki Kovalainen and Hamilton, the trio covered by a tenth of a second.

It was little surprise to see Piquet eliminated, although his final time was only three tenths of a second off Fernando Alonso’s. Still, he was bumped back to 17th by Sebastien Bourdais in the new Toro Rosso STR3 at the end of the session.

Afterwards the stewards revealed they were looking into an incident between Rubens Barrichello and GIancarlo Fisichella, the Italian driver having been unusually slow compared to his team mate, suggesting he might have been held up.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part one

16. Sebastien Bourdais 1’16.806
17. Nelson Piquet Jnr 1’16.993
18. Sebastian Vettel 1’16.995
19. Adrian Sutil 1’17.225
20. Gincarlo Fisichella 1’17.823

Part two

Nick Heidfeld, BMW, Monte-Carlo, 2008, qualifying, 470313

The McLarens and Ferraris went to battle at the top of the times once again with Hamilton dramatically fast in the first sector of the lap but clearly struggling in the second. On one lap the rear of his MP4/23 slewed wide dramatically at the Grand Hotel hairpin.

The session was within minutes of ending when David Coulthard slammed into the barrier on apporach to the chicane. He wasn’t sure if he’d made a mistake or if something had broken on the RB4, but it brought his qualifying session and everyone else’s to an abrupt end.

That wasn’t too much of a problem for Coulthard as it cemented his place in the top ten. It also suited Fernando Alonso, who had just taken ninth place when Coulthard crashed. But it caught out Nick Heidfeld, who became the first BMW driver not to reach Q3 this year.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part two

11. Timo Glock 1’15.907
12. Jenson Button 1’16.101
13. Nick Heidfeld 1’16.455
14. Kazuki Nakajima 1’16.479
15. Rubens Barrichello 1’16.537

Part three

For the second year in a row the final part of qualifying at Monaco took place without David Coulthard, even though the Red Bull driver had set a top ten time. The nine cars present included his team mate Mark Webber, plus Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica, Jarno Trulli, Nico Rosberg and the Ferrari and McLaren drivers.

On the first round of laps it was Kimi Raikkonen went quickest and Kubica popped up into second place, raising hopes the BMW driver could score another pole position.

It wasn’t to be, though, as he was knocked back into fifth by the quicker Ferraris and McLarens. Raikkonen lowered his time and although Hamilton looked poised to beat it he lost his advantage in the final sector of the lap and crossed the line with a time 0.024s slower than the Finn’s.

But then came the real surprise of the session as Felipe Massa emerged from nowhere to take over the top of the times.

It gave Ferrari their first front row at Monaco since 1979 – and more importantly, gives them all the strategic options ahead of a race that might yet be affected by rain. For within minutes of the qualifying session ending, it began to pour once again…

Top ten drivers’ times for part three

1. Felipe Massa 1’15.787
2. Kimi Raikkonen 1’15.815
3. Lewis Hamilton 1’15.839
4. Heikki Kovalainen 1’16.165
5. Robert Kubica 1’16.171
6. Nico Rosberg 1’16.548
7. Fernando Alonso 1’16.852
8. Jarno Trulli 1’17.203
9. Mark Webber 1’17.343
10. David Coulthard no time

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “2008 Monaco GP qualifying: Ferrari shock McLaren with front row lock-out”

  1. Oh well… So I guess it will be a Ferrarie parade tomorrow, opening up a 10 sec lead over McLaren, and then round and round and round the streets of Monaco until Raikkonen overtake Massa during the pit stop to win the race… What else? A total of three overtakings on the track, and a couple of damaged nose wings. Cant say I’m looking forward to it…

  2. I agre ctm, except if rain comes and brings hell to Monaco. Then anything can happen…..

  3. “It was little surprise to see Piquet eliminated, although his final time was only three tenths of a second off Fernando Alonso’”

    I think the time is irrelevant, as Alonso was slow in Q1 but had done enough to go through (which is the end goal). What happen to him today should be viewed in the context of him being the 4th slowest driver, despite having a car that is a lot more capable. Almost any other driver in the field would have at least matched Alonso’s Q1 effort, as he had a shaky lap. Piquet is just not able to handle the demands and pressures of an F1 race weekend.

  4. I agree CTM, but I’m still looking forward to the race though.

    something about Monaco that makes it exciting to watch, especially in cockpit cam.

  5. i’m sure both ferraris our light on fuel. as they both made errors on there best laps but still got the front row. if hamilton can hang on till the pit stops then he still has a chance.

    but a bit or rain would be most welcome.

  6. I’m not surprised Ferrari is this good on these slow tracks, considering the Mclaren weight distribution, wheel base and various other characteristics was handed over to them freely, via a documentation error.

  7. Fabulous! Kimi’s probably a little heavier with fuel so look for him to head the red one-two. Even better will be a BMW in third. Can’t wait to hear the Italian anthem again.

  8. I think tomorrow we will watch again the first metres of Brazil 2007, one ferrari blocking P3 and the other running safe to the first corner.

    But i have a doubt. What will be Hamilton’s move?. Risky for the race or safe for the championship points?

  9. Surely Hamilton is not stupid enough to risk points, he’ll know the dangers of being a bit too gung-ho around the strrets of Monaco. If it rains, however, all hell will break loose, and I expect Massa to be the most high-profile casualty as he looked shaky early on in qualifying.

  10. theRoswellite
    24th May 2008, 19:13

    Always enjoy seeing Felipe do well, of all the drivers he seems the most unpretentious and direct, and as the underdog at Ferrari he has my support. A victory tomorrow
    would certainly be the feather in his career-cap, and if Ferrari has already made any exit plans for him, the victory would certainly leave a bit of the sweet & sour taste in their mouth.

  11. Roswellite – Ferrari have no plans to replace Massa, who is now, after Kimi, the fastest driver in F1. In equal cars he’d beat Alonso, Kubica and Hamilton. Who else is there?

  12. I hope that rain appears during the GP. If not its gona be a nightmare as usual in Monaco.
    By the way does anyone know who were the faster drivers in the rain during P3?

  13. William Wilgus
    24th May 2008, 20:29

    I fail to understand why some still consider that any good result by Massa had to have been accomplished by some sort of `miracle’.

    Ferrari light on fuel? It would be a first this year. If anyone is light on fuel, it to be I’d suspect McLaren. We’ll see tomorrow! May the best win!

  14. Hey, what about Nico Rosberg, that was a very good Qual for him.

  15. Well said lamag – it was a great qualifier for rosberg and maybe on his home course he might do well especially if it rains – but a ferrari one two may be the result – dont like this race circuit – too much bling especially on lh this week – of too play with me boat – street racing sucks – dreading the night stuff

  16. Until Massa can pass someone for the lead, he’s nothing more than a one lap wonder qualifier.

  17. he’s always out last and on less fuel as well most of the time.

  18. David : What about the spanish GP? the low on fuel one was Lewis not Massa.
    Massa is a very nice chap and he does the job. He’s got 9 poles since 2007 nobody has done better and won 5 races plus one he offered to Kimi for the 2007’s title… So the truth his that he’s won as many races as Kimi (because he gave him one) and Lewis and he’s done more poles than the 2 others… The rest is just hot air ;-)

    For tomorrow I believe Kimi, Lewis and Fernando are low on fuel, not Massa and not Heikki.

  19. Ooops ! As many races as Lewis and one less than Kimi !

  20. I just have a feeling Hamilton went out with about the same level of fuel he had on board last year, knowing fully well they have no way of running away from the Ferraris.

  21. I seems that both Ferrari and Mclaren drivers are in same fuel load.May be Kimi is bit heavier(ie to say 1 or 2 laps) than Massa and Hekki is heavier than Lewis. Except Bharain,Kimi was heavier than Massa in all other races.So i say if Kimi has a clear track tomorrow(dry race i mean)then he’s got a chance to win the race.If it rains then race is wide open,but i hope Kimi&Lewis will come out best of all.

  22. Not that it’s ever a good idea to break equipment on purpose, but is there a penalty for deliberately ending a qualifying session?

    Not accusing, just a thought.

  23. @chunter: What do you mean? Somwbody who will “de facto” make the session come to an end because the track is red flagged? In this case the race director can always call for an extension (I think this happened recently but can’t remember where and when!) Or somebody who because he breaks his car cannot continue the qualification process (DC yesterday?) In this case the punishment is included : You cannot improve your position because you’re out!

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