Saturday, 23 May 2015

Business as usual as Hamilton takes pole leading a Mercedes front row lock out

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix from pole position after setting a fastest time of 1m 15.098s and will begin the race just ahead of Nico Rosberg who is hoping to secure his third consecutive victory around the streets on Monaco. The German who locked up going into T1 was 0.342s behind Hamilton. Speaking following the session, Lewis Hamilton commented by saying:

'My first Monaco pole position; it's felt a long time coming! Today, bringing the tyres in was tricky. We had to do an out-lap, warm up lap then fast lap. We had to do that for both tyres. It's an important day for me, looking back through every year at Monaco generally it's been quite poor. Sometimes I've had the car, sometimes I haven't. I've lived here for the last few years so it makes this pole position even more special. There's still a long way to go, it's only half the job. It's going to be mentally and physically challenging tomorrow but I'm looking forward to it. A big thank you to the team; the performance we have in the car is outstanding and they've been working very hard. I think the last pole position for me here was in GP2 in 2006 so I hope I can take advantage of it tomorrow in the race. 

Nico Rosberg commented by saying:

'I found a good way into qualifying today, had a good Q2, but then I lost the good rhythm at the end, which is a shame. I had to push a lot so I went a bit over the limit. Lewis did a good job today, unfortunately now it's getting really difficult to win this race. But I will dream tonight of my Barcelona start and hope to have another one tomorrow.'

Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff commented by saying:

'Congratulations to both drivers because we have done the first half of the job now, with our cars on the front row in Monaco. It looked like Nico had the edge during Q1 and Q2, then Lewis found another gear in Q3 and nailed the lap when it mattered. To set a lap of 1:15.0 around this circuit is pretty incredible, especially when you consider that this is just 1.5 seconds away from the all-time best here in Monaco. With Nico, he locked up into Turn 1 on his final lap, which meant he couldn’t improve his time – but it was still good enough for the front row. Obviously, from pole position and the front row we can control the race if we make strong starts. But we will need to be on our toes and to extract everything from the car tomorrow, because our rivals are close – and will be pushing us hard tomorrow.'

Mercedes Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe commented by saying:

A front row at Monaco is never easy and this is always the most tense qualifying session of the year because so many things can go wrong. Coming out of third practice this morning, Sebastian looked very quick and we were expecting a very close contest between our drivers and him in qualifying. As it happened, perhaps because of the cooler conditions, we found we had a good margin of performance over Ferrari but it was, of course, very close between Nico and Lewis. They were separated by just over 0.1s on their first run in Q3, then Nico locked up into the first corner on his second lap, leaving Lewis with a safe pole. Nevertheless, we let him complete the lap and he improved with a stunning time of 1:15.0 to claim his first pole position in Monaco. Well done to the drivers for getting this far with the cars intact and to the team for a fantastic job so far this weekend and a great car.'

Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will start the race from third place, ending the session 0.751s behind Hamilton. The German will be hoping that he can challenge the Mercedes duo for the race win on Sunday.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing had a great session as Daniel Ricciardo will start the race from fourth place on the grid while his team mate Daniil Kvyat will start the race from fifth place showing the Milton Keynes based outfit have made a step forward. Speaking following the session Daniel Ricciardo commented saying:

'I’m a bit frustrated because I think we should be P3. There was a miscommunication from the pit wall starting the last lap and it’s a missed opportunity for us. At Monaco, every grid position counts, but we’re in a good place to attack and we’ll go all out to try for a podium finish in tomorrow’s race. I always enjoy this track and having to fight the car over the kerbs; I’ll try to have a bit of fun tomorrow.'

Daniil Kvyat commented by saying:

'It’s a positive qualifying result for the team. But we’re not where we want to be, although we’re making progress and heading in the right direction; we’re in a good position for tomorrow’s race. The rain didn’t affect us too much during quali but we’ll have to wait and see if it’s a factor tomorrow.'

Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner commented by saying:

'It was a great performance by both our drivers to finish fourth and fifth, despite Daniel dropping a couple of tenths due to a miscommunication. I think they got everything out of the cars today and it puts us in a strong position for tomorrow’s race, and hopefully we can make some progress from there.'

It was a disappointing end to the day for Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari as following his accident in practice this morning the Finn could only manage to qualify for the race in sixth place.
The Sahara Force India of Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez did a great job for the team as it was his best qualifying result of the season so far as the Mexican will start the race in seventh place after being unable to complete a second lap in Q3 as he had no new tyres.

Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz continued to impress as the Spaniard will start the race from eighth place ending the session 1.883s behind Hamilton.

The Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado had a great session as the Venezuelan will start the race from ninth place on the grid just ahead of Max Verstappen in the second Toro Rosso.
Romain Grosjean will start the race from eleventh place and was unfortunate to miss out on a place in the top ten shootout. Speaking following the session, Maldonado commented by saying:

'That was not too bad. The car felt better from this morning as we made some beneficial changes. I think we could have done better, but we had to hold the car a while to get some track space for the final lap and that meant that everything cooled a little. P8 is a strong position to start from and I have a feeling that tomorrow will be a good race for us.'

McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button was extremely impressive in practice this morning ending up in in P8 however in qualifying he was unlucky not to make it into Q3. The 2009 world champion had to back off on his final run after Nico Rosberg locked up going into T1. Button will start the race in 11th place following Romain Grosjean's five place grid penalty. Speaking following the session the Frenchman commented stated:

'I made a mistake on what should have been my fastest lap in Q2 and I was aiming for a much better lap time which would have put me in the top ten. Basically I locked a wheel heading into turn fifteen and went straight-on which lost me about four tenths. The car is looking good for the race, even if I have it all to do with my penalty meaning I start from P15 on the grid.'

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Nico Hulkenberg will start the race from 12th place.
It was an extremely disappointing session for the Williams Martini Racing Team as Felipe Massa will start the race from 13th place on the grid just ahead of McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso as the Spaniard stopped out on track as the power unit cut out.

The Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr will start the race from 15th place on the grid just ahead of the Lotus F1 Team's Romain Grosjean who will start the race from 16th place.

Williams Martini Racing Team's Valtteri Bottas will start the race from 17th place following an extremely tough day for the Finn.

Marcus Ericsson will start the race from 18th place in the second Sauber C34 while the Manor Marussia duo of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi rounded out the grid line up.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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