Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid for the Monaco Grand Prix for the third year in a row – but this time it’s Lewis Hamilton on pole position.
Nico Rosberg looked likely to make it three pole positions in a row earlier in the session but and on his last run meant he had to settle for second place.
The nearest Mercedes challenger was three-quarters of a second behind in third place. Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari will lead the two Red Bulls on the grid.
The Mercedes drivers led the way in Q1 and unsurprisingly were able to cruise through to the next stage without using a set of the quicker super-soft tyres.
The Ferraris also had that advantage but life was not as comfortable as them. Vettel was the best part of a second slower than pace-setter Rosberg, and Raikkonen fell worryingly close to the drop-zone as the final minutes ticket away.
However the usual Monaco traffic jam made life difficult for those who might have beaten him. The most high-profile victim was Valtteri Bottas, who failed to begin his final lap in time having waved his team mate past. The track temperature had fallen since the end of first practice and the Williams drivers
Marcus Ericsson was also frustrated by traffic, his race engineer blaming Fernando Alonso for holding him up. For the second race running, both McLaren drivers made it beyond the first phase of qualifying.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
The team’s other car was doomed not to make it through as well. Jenson Button was inside the top ten with his first run but had to back off at the start of his second when Rosberg went off at Sainte Devote, bringing out the yellow flags. “That’s painful,” said Button on the radio. “Such a shame, guys. We were on for a reasonable result, there.”
Rosberg ended the session on top of the times while Hamilton, delayed on his first run, improved to second with his last.
Neither Williams reached Q3, Massa also complaining about poor front tyre warm-up as he ended the session in 14th.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1’17.193|
A few spots of rain fell as the final part of qualifying began, so the drivers wasted not time in taking to the track. Among them was Sergio Perez, who was making his first appearance in Q3 this year and had only one fresh set of super-soft tyres remaining. His first effort put him sixth, and he spent the rest of the session looking on from the pits.
Q3 in Monaco last year ended in controversy but there was no repeat this year. Once again the contest for pole position was between the Mercedes drivers but this time Hamilton was the lead car on track and it was he who set the pace initially.
When it came to the second runs another mistake by Rosberg at Sainte Devote settled the contest, earning Hamilton his first ever Formula One pole position at Monaco.
While Vettel took third place again, the Red Bull drivers bumped Raikkonen back to sixth place – the Ferrari driver had been ninth after his first run. Raikkonen’s improvement pushed Perez down to seventh. Behind him Carlos Sainz Jnr, Pastor Maldonado and Max Verstappen were separated by just 0.026s.
Top ten in Q3
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||1’16.041|
|5||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull-Renault||1’16.182|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1’16.808|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’16.931|
|10||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’16.957|
2015 Monaco Grand Prix
- Mercedes urged Hamilton not to skip Monaco podium after losing race
- New audio reveals Hamilton’s Monaco strategy role
- Verstappen rebuffs Massa criticism over Monaco crash
- Hamilton “couldn’t care less” about Monaco
- ‘Moral victor’ Hamilton wins Driver of the Weekend