Raikkonen takes pole position as Mercedes struggles

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP Monaco, Monte Carlo Circuitmc

Raikkonen took a narrow pole position, being less than half a tenth faster than both Vettel and Bottas. Hamilton meanwhile could not get into Q2, struggling to find grip and confidence. Red Bull showed relative good form by bringing the fight to Ferrari in Q1 and Q2, but ultimately coming short in Q3.

Q1 starts out with everybody on track. Tyre wear and degradation is traditionally that low on Monaco, and coupled with a high chance on a disrupted session by crashes or risks at having your qualifying effort being destroyed by traffic, everybody tries to get out as soon as possible with enough fuel to drive around for several laps. In the early part of Q1, only a couple of small interruptions were made by mainly Grosjean, who spinned and was forced to drive against the track direction to reach a run-off to get his car pointing back in the right direction. It was clear from the laptimes that Mercedes struggled to find pace as especially Hamilton was rather low on the list.

Meanwhile, Verstappen took the top position, only separated by a few tenths from both Ferrari's.

At the end of Q1, Ericcson clips the barriers with his rear left, lobbing off the tyre from the rim forcing him to retire.

Q2 shows pretty much the same approach: everybody getting out early and trying to gradually improve as fuel loads go down. Hamilton is shown to be struggling a lot, unable to find the grip and believing something to be wrong with the car. He has a huge snap of oversteer at Massanet, but was able to keep the car out of the barriers. Up to this point, he is unable to set a laptime competitive enough for the top 10.

Meanwhile, both the Ferrari's and the Red Bulls confirm their good form as especially Verstappen seems to be able to weight in with Vettel and Raikkonen. Late improvements from the latter 2 puts a larger gap between them and Verstappen than it realistically is. Bottas in the meanwhile has to settle for a distant fourth.

In the latter parts of Q2, Hamilton makes a final series of attempts to progress to Q3. His last attempt looked set to able to do that, but disfortune struck when Vandoorne put his car in the barriers at the exit of the swimming pool, forcing Hamilton to cut the corner to take evasive action and abandon his lap. Replay showed Vandoorne got too agressive over the kerbstones and was flung into the barrier, heavily damaging his car. Ironically, he (and Button) still got to proceed to Q3, although he would not be able to participate.

Q3: Even though the track is much less crowded with only 10 cars remaining, lowering risk at aborting a flying lap, everybody still opted for a series of flying laps, although smaller ones than in Q1 and Q2. Raikkonen immediately showed he meant business by putting his car atleast 7 tenths in front of everybody. He was followed by Ricciardo in second, Vettel in third and suprisingly Bottas in 4th, with the 3 being within a tenth of eachother.

In the final few minutes of qualifying, everybody would put on new tyres and do a final push for the top spot. Raikkonen improved his laptime by a couple of tenths, which would end up being crucial. Both Vettel and Bottas improved to be less than half a tenth away from Raikkonen's laptime. Bottas looked to have switched the stubborn Mercedes car on as the onboard footage clearly showned to have little oversteer moments and Bottas having the confidence behind the wheel.

Verstappen eventually had to settle for 4th, putting half a second between him and his teammate in 5th.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
17Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:13.1171:12.2311:12.17823
25Sebastian VettelFerrari1:13.0901:12.4491:12.22123
377Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:13.3251:12.9011:12.22330
433Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:13.0781:12.6971:12.49624
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:13.2191:13.0111:12.99821
655Carlos SainzToro Rosso1:13.5261:13.3971:13.16230
711Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:13.5301:13.4301:13.32923
88Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:13.7861:13.2031:13.34929
922Jenson ButtonMcLaren Honda1:13.7231:13.4531:13.61327
102Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda1:13.4761:13.249-20
1126Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1:13.8991:13.516-19
1227Nico HulkenbergRenault1:13.7871:13.628-21
1320Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:13.5311:13.959-20
1444Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:13.6401:14.106-18
1519Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:13.7961:20.529-20
1631Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:14.101--7
1730Jolyon PalmerRenault1:14.696--11
1818Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:14.893--7
1994Pascal WehrleinSauber Ferrari1:15.159--11
209Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:15.276--11