Another Grand Prix, another pole for Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and what better place to do it than Monaco.
The reigning World Champion set a best of 1:13.556, nearly half-a-second quicker than McLaren’s Jenson Button (2nd) and the other Red Bull, driven by Mark Webber (3rd).
It was a final session punctured by a long red flag session, brought out when Sauber rookie Sergio Perez lost his C30 at the exit of the tunnel, crashing into Armco lining the short straight leading into the Nouvelle Chicane.
Perez continued out if control, before pummelling side-on into the barrier at the chicane, signalling a thirty minute stoppage, while the barrier itself was repaired.
Prior to the Perez incident, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso set the 4th quickest time ahead of Michael Schumacher (5th, Mercedes) and Felipe Massa (6th, Ferrari).
Nico Rosberg (7th, Mercedes) and Pastor Maldonado (8th, Williams) also set their peak runs after the red flag, but neither could dent the top positions. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton had to settle for an indifferent lap once qualifying restarted, but later had his time deleted for jumping the chicane – he starts from 9th place.
Despite the ferocity of the accident, Perez suffered only a concussion and a thigh strain; however it means the Sauber man will not be able to race tomorrow.
As the season ages, Renault continue to fall back into the midfield pack, with Vitaly Petrov leading their charge from a disappointing 11th place, three-tenths shy of Maldonado’s Q2 cut-off time.
The Russian has Rubens Barrichello for company on the sixth row, with Kamui Kobayashi (13th, Sauber) and Paul di Resta (14th, Force India) just behind.
It’s another solid qualifying result for di Resta, who once again out-qualifies his far more experienced teammate, Adrian Sutil (15th). Nick Heidfeld will start from 16th – his best lap was nearly half-a-second shy of Petrov, while Sebastien Buemi will take the 17th starting spot in his Toro Rosso.
Heikki Kovalainen led the group that fell out of the first stint of qualifying. The Lotus driver fell just over 0.5 shy of the cut-off point. Kovalainen (18th) only just pipped teammate Jarno Trulli, with the Italian lagging behind by four-hundredths.
Both Lotus’ were half-a-second quicker than Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari. The Spaniard struggled through Q1 on soft tyres, before nudging the rear of Kobayashi, damaging his front wing in the process.
The Virgin Racing pair of Timo Glock and Jerome d’Ambrosio assumed the eleventh row of the grid, while neither Hispania even set a time Narain Karthikeyan with a “suspension problem” that developed in the morning practice. Vitantonio Liuzzi’s F111 was too damaged to run after his accident this morning; however both Hispania’s will still be allowed to race, having run on or near the verges of the 107% gap during the free practice session.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m13.556s 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m13.997s + 0.441 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m14.019s + 0.463 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m14.483s + 0.927 5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m14.682s + 1.126 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m14.877s + 1.321 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m15.766s + 2.210 8. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m16.528s + 2.972 9. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes No time 10. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari No time Q3 cut-off time: 1m15.545s Gap ** 11. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m15.815s + 1.540 12. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m15.826s + 1.551 13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m15.973s + 1.698 14. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m16.118s + 1.843 15. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m16.121s + 1.846 16. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m16.214s + 1.939 17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m16.300s + 2.025 Q3 cut-off time: 1m16.813s Gap * 18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m17.343s + 2.136 19. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m17.381s + 2.174 20. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m17.820s + 2.613 21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m17.914s + 2.707 22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m18.736s + 3.529 23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth No time 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth No time 107% time: 1m20.471s