#F1 Qualifying Review: Ultimate Battle of Teammates at #MonacoGP Qualifying

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55

 

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“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action”

― Ian Fleming Goldfinger

 

The sky glittered above the Principality as Qualifying promised once again to be a Mercedes showcase. In perfect weather, errant drivers with too much torque promised to turn qualifying into a last desperate spin of the roulette wheel, for those drivers who left it too late. After trading blows through the first two sessions, it was Nico Rosberg whose “mistake” set off the yellows that confirmed his provisional pole and brutally denied his teammate the chance to beat him.  The engine dramas of Sebastian Vettel continued and the curse of Webber seemed to grow stronger as he was still unable to upset his teammate – Ricciardo. Normality returned to Ferrari-land as Alonso outpointed Raikkonen and Toro-Rosso surprised all by a double appearance in Q3 after a near disaster for Kvyat in Q1. Magnussen too finally showed a hint of his form from Australia by making Q3 and giving McLaren something to cheer for.

Williams disappointed, though Massa was taken out by Ericsson in Q1 so at least he had an excuse. Disappointed too will be Button. Starting out of the top ten yet again will do his contract negotiations no favors at all.

Q1

The first session kicked off with both Mercedes parked and waiting to go in marked contrast to previous races. Clearly leaving it late would be for amateurs, with desperate back-markers, lots of traffic and hyper torque engines making it likely that laps in the closing seconds would be spoiled by yellow or red flags.

Both Mercedes took their first timed laps in a leisurely fashion, as Magnussen, Maldonado and Massa immediately followed on with better efforts. But Mercedes efforts to improve were spoiled by double yellows as Daniil Kvyat donated his front wing to the cause of improving the show with an impressive loss of traction coming out of the tunnel. Somehow managing to keep rest of the car intact, he limped back to the pits with the opportunity to come back out.

In opposition to Mercedes’ strategy, Red Bull waited until 12 minutes to go to emerge from the garage and as they began their warm ups, Nico Rosberg finally got down to the business of improving his time going 1st, followed by Maldonado. The Ferrari’s slotted into 6th and 7th  but with plenty of time to play those places were by no means guaranteed. As the clocked ticked over 10 minutes Lewis Hamilton found 2nd, followed by Maldonado, Massa, Sutil, Magnussen, Gutierrrez, Alonso and Raikkonen. Still, with the Super Softs to go it was all going to change.

Wasting no time, Grosjean was back out on the Supers and immediately into 3rd.  Ricciardo took his customary P3 as Hulkenberg dropped into 17th, with Perez in 19th and Kvyat bringing up the rear after his thoroughly entertaining ride.

At the 6 minute mark, Ricciardo still held 3rd, 0.4 off of Rosberg’s best time as Hulkenberg began his effort to escape the back of the grid. Unfortunately for Hulkenberg he caught really bad traffic at the Hairpin, including an impressively slow Grosjean and had to back out. Meanwhile his teammate Perez leaped into 8th on the softer tyre as Hulkenberg came round to look for space to have another go.

As time began to run short the back of the field began their last efforts and it was all destined to end in tears. As Vergne took P1 on the softer tyre, Marcus Ericsson completely misjudged a pass on Massa and stuffed both of them into the barrier, ending the session prematurely, much to the delight of Vergne no doubt.  Gutierrez was the big loser, occupying 17th, though the Saubers showed no real signs of being able to do better so it may have been inevitable in any event.

Sutil, Bianchi, Chilton, Kobayashi and Ericsson rounded out the 18th-22nd with Massa being the biggest loser as he was unable to make the pits and would not be able to compete in Q2.

 

Q2

Again wasting no time and taking no chances Mercedes were parked at pit exit as the circuit went green, this time sporting super soft tyres.  As in the previous session, Mercedes’ first timed laps were on the slow side, as they clearly believed lap 2 to be their best bet on these tyres as well. Taking advantage of this, Hulkenberg crosses the line in 1st, temporarily ahead of the Mercedes. Ricciardo and Magnussen both cross and then once again the utterly dominant Mercedes came through with Rosberg again having the advantage, but this time by just 0.35 seconds. As the teams regrouped for their second efforts, Perez, Bottas, Grosjean, Maldonado, Vettel and Massa are on the outside looking in as Vergne is in 10th and clearly in danger.

With 6 minutes left, Vettel finally put in a time and seized 4th, though the lateness of the hour raised the spectre of engine issues. Moments later he confirmed on the radio that the MGU-K is acting out. Kvyat was amazingly into 8th after his previous excursion as Force India began their final efforts at the 2 minute mark.  They take 8th and 9th excluding Button as ERS issues are reported for Grosjean as well.

As the last seconds ticked anxiously by, Rosberg improved his time as Vergne took 8th, relegating Hulkenberg. Hamilton edged Rosberg, evening the score and setting the stage for a dramatic battle for pole position. Button was unable to improve, and backed out halfway through his lap, once again failing to make the Q3, in contrast to his teammate Magnussen who had made the final session. Vettel also improved on his last effort, supplanting Ricciardo for 3rd and making the last session the rubber match for the top two teams.

Q3

With the fireworks promised by the previous two sessions awaiting fruition, the start of the last session was languid compared to the previous two. Kvyat was first out and then in a bunch the rest of the runners were off. Again, Mercedes played for the second timed lap as the Force Indias were ordered to go from the off. Taking advantage, Perez claimed provisional pole as Rosberg had to negotiate some traffic. He was rapidly displaced by Raikkonen as Alonso took 3rd. Vergne managed to improve Perez time before the Mercedes came through to take the top 2 spots, with Rosberg having the first touch in Q3, a slim 0.59 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who followed him across the line. Slightly further back, Ricciardo had reclaimed 3rd from Vettel, though both Hamilton and Vettel had better second laps than their teammates.

As the teams circulated through the pits for the last time, those with fresh tyres strapped them on and it was all left to play for – as the track filled back up. With 2:30m left – Raikkonen was on a flyer showing the Ferrari was still a bit of a handful and unable to improve on his 6th position. Rosberg was out with Hamilton behind him and with less than a minute left this would be the last lap for all the top 5.

And then Rosberg took it off track, spoiling the last minute heroics and killing Sector 2 for anyone behind, including Hamilton. Was it a cerebral move akin to Schumacher parking it in Rascasse, or was it an honest mistake from a driver who has made them before on his last efforts? The stewards will issue a decision as the incident is still being investigated, along with multiple incidents of impeding – so the grid is far from set.

One thing is indisputable, whether on purpose or by accident Rosberg holds the upper hand starting the race tomorrow, but Lewis has had the consistently better starts. Will we see Lewis imitating his hero and driving straight into Nico at Saint Devote? Has Nico mastered his clutch issues and will he finally be able to take the advantage into turn 1? Whatever the case, Lewis was certain he had pole locked up and has already promised victory tomorrow. The drama we were robbed of today will be paid with interest tomorrow.

Qualifying Result

# Driver Ctry Team
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
7 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
10 Sergio Perez Force India
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India
12 Jenson Button McLaren
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus
15 Pastor Maldonado Lotus
16 Felipe Massa Williams
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
18 Adrian Sutil Sauber
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia
20 Max Chilton Marussia
21 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham

77 responses to “#F1 Qualifying Review: Ultimate Battle of Teammates at #MonacoGP Qualifying

  1. The stewards have ruled, no further action to be taken against Nico. So gloves are off tomorrow

  2. Positions confirmed.
    The right decision, I believe, but I am unimpressed by Rosberg’s celebratory demeanour having just effectively sabotaged his rival’s quick lap.

    The reversing thing – while clearly now officially permitted – also seems a bit off.

    Not quite Mr Sqeaky Clean anymore.

    Spices up the contest, in any event.

    • Thinking about it the real problem for Nico is that if that was on purpose, he’s not faster than Lewis and if it was a mistake he’s still not faster as Lewis didn’t have a fair shot either way. I think this is the root of all the angst. Of course, it does add a little hot sauce to the first corner tomorrow. 🙂

      • But if he’s first out of that first corner it is possible to be first when the checkered flag drops. After all it is monaco. And he did it last year in the same manner

        • Yes it is. And he had pace over Lewis in Spain. But when they’ve both finished, Lewis holds the advantage. Thus, Drama for tomorow. 😉

          • No drama there. Merc will not risk a fight at Monaco. This isn’t a wide open Bahrain track and the correct driver is now leading the championship. They’ll ‘change’ Rosberg’s strategy like they did in China and the thing will be decided.

          • @ Danilo

            since you get a lot more coverage of the Merc situation compared to in the UK –

            are you saying that Mercedes favour Lewis over Nico ?

            I’m trying to understand the situation and what is your take on it.

            Cheers 🙂

          • lol, if anybody would said something similar last year about webber and vettel, you would have gotten bend out of shape and called them conspiracy theorists. you clearly suffer from german bias desease danilo.

          • @Fortis. Doesn’´t the driver in front at the time of the first pit stop choose the strategy? I believe that was the reason Nico attacked in both Bahrain and Spain at that time. Maybe Lewis didn´t make the tyres last enough in Spain. And also he thought he was pitted too early the second time.

      • Except for the fact that Rosberg drove the overall fastest first sector on just before he missed the breaking point. Lewis’ first sector on that try was slower. Both went below 20s for the first time, but Nico was a few thousands of a second faster, so saying that he wasn’t faster than Lewis is conjecture at best.

        • Not saying who would’ve been faster, talking about the impression because the session ended before Lewis had his last try.

          • The session also ended before Rosberg had his last attempt, because he botched it. And I doubt he’s so doubtful about his own skills that he deliberately ruins a lap that is more than 1/10 quicker than his last attempt after the first sector.

        • Good point to notice that quick sector by Nico.

          But… the first sector ends just before the Mirabeau corner. If you overcook it and are too quick to make the corner the last thing you do before locking it up and taking to the escape road is pass the sector 1 timing point.

          It’s more of a quirk of the circuit and confirmation that Nico was on the brakes too late to make that corner rather than a sign that Nico was on a super fast lap.

          • Slightly over-cooking a corner isn’t going to shave more than a tenth off a sector time. To shave that much off he would have embedded his car in the barrier… It may have saved a hundredth or two but he was still quicker than previously.

            The question is whether it would have been fast enough. Anyone can say that Lewis would have taken pole if he’d had a clean lap but aside from the fact that Nico seems to have been quicker in general this weekend, there is also no guarantee that Lewis wouldn’t have messed up at some point on his lap as well.

        • But if Lewis was 2/10th up on his own time, then surely he was up on Nico’s as well

          • Lewis’s time was fractionally (thousands) slower in the first sector on this lap, but Lewis was faster in the second sector generally, and nico faster in the third, generally this weekend anyway. How they optimised their own weak sectors was the key, and why its a shame we were robbed of that final lap. As long as the first sector was within a tenth, it was all still to play for really, presumably Lewis didn’t carry on due to the fact that mirabeau, and the imediate approach are actually in the start of sector 2, just after the timing beam as j said, which meant if Lewis set his best time in sector 2, as he would have done if it was his fastest lap, he would likely have got done for ignoring yellows.

            That said, I don’t think it was deliberate on Nicos part, just unfortunate timing, but I was not impressed by manner of celebration out of the car, you think he’d have had a bit more sense, even if he was secretly pleased, as it was evident he’d defaulted to pole, rather than outright beaten everyone, due to a mistake he’d made, which is subtly distinct from someone else making a mistake and spoiling someone your oppositions laps, you’d think he’d have been slightly embarrassed if nothing else.

            It will be interesting to see how tomorrow goes, whether Lewis can do something, or perhaps something he might find harder, which is keeping his head, taking it on the chin, accepting the 7 point hit knowing its a long season, and he has a few strong races to come to claw it back.

          • If all you look at is sector 1 then Nico was faster by 8/100ths.

            Ham was up by a 10th in sector 2. In sector 3 they were pretty much even, Nico was 1/100th quicker.

            All in all you can see why they were so close in the end.

            The track was rubbering in, all the drivers (except Button) setting their fastest times near the end.

            If Ham got to finish that last lap he would have been quicker, but then again if Nico hadn’t made the mistake maybe he would have picked up some time in the middle, who knows.

          • …. And this is why Monaco would not be accepted as a new entry to the f1 calendar…

            Also…!As I’ve written before… Nico needs to get under Hamilton’s skin….and he sure did so today…

    • Don’t think Rosberg will care to be honest. All that matters at Monaco is track position, which he got. In any case, Rosberg shows he can be “aggressive” though it’s not the kind of aggressive most people were expecting.

      So, if Rosberg was cleared of any wrongdoing in qualifying, does that mean it is legal to just reverse the car back on the track, especially if cars are arriving ? Aren’t there precedents for such cases where the driver gets slammed for unsafely rejoining the track ? Or maybe qualifying has a different set of rules…

      Either way, Turn 1 tomorrow is going to be very fiery. Rosberg better get a lightning start.

      • Seems that Rosberg learnt a few extra tricks of the trade (pun intended) from his time with Schumacher as his team mate. It also seems that German drivers can do no wrong (again) in the eyes of a Hippo. But it must be galling for him to see Vettel being trounced by the new boy from Australia.
        It is entirely possible that the two Mercedes will collide at some stage, probably the first corner. In which case Ricciardo could well be on for his first win. Unless Red Bull interfere in the running order. Looks like it will be a lively race for once.

      • He might, Lewis fixed his clutch problems in the rest after the Barcelona race.

        …first he had to sort out jenson’s setup for him, now it’s Nico’s clutch….I thought both those drivers were smart, intelligent and adaptable guys?….mmmmmm

    • @ Nigel

      what do you mean by ” reversing thing ” ?

      and

      when has the ” reversing thing ” NOT been permitted ?

      I only know of reversing not being permitted in the pit lane – and that rule has been around for decades ….

  3. Nico celebrating was just as disgusting to see as Thierry Henry celebrating so emphatically after using his hand to put in that goal.

  4. Just to be clear, it’s quite obvious to me that if a car parked at the end of the escape road it would provide absolutely no danger to other competitors – but I don’t know that the stewards wouldn’t have kept out the yellows in any event.

    Any thoughts ?

    • Don’t know if they would’ve kept them out or not, but I sure would’ve liked to have seen Lewis’ last lap without yellows.

      BTW here are the rules for Indy Car
      “Cautions – If a car causes a red or full course yellow condition in any segment or otherwise interferes with qualifications as determined by the Race Director, the car’s best two timed laps of the segment will be disallowed. An interfering car will not be allowed to advance to the next segment. If a car causes two red or full course yellow conditions in any segment, all segment times shall be voided and the car shall not be permitted to participate in the remainder of qualifying.”

      Just saying….

      • Just saying nothing there. FULL COURSE YELLOW, means safety car in Indy. Rosberg caused a local yellow, limited to one single corner.

          • You are still presuming that he did it deliberately. That might seem logical if you’re blind as a bat, because you think that nobody else, but HE is allowed to win anything and being faster than HIM is blasphemy. But since the stewards decided it wasn’t even worth a reprimand, common sense dictates that they came to the conclusion it was a mere driving mistake and nothing sinister.

          • … I’m glad he did it, and there is no question in my mind it was deliberate…. The drivers are briefed in detail as to what will precipitate a yellow flag… Which explains Lewis’ reaction…

          • Danilo …

            head

            brick wall

            banging

            common sense is never going to prevail over blinkered thinking mate 🙂

          • @FH no, actually I’m not presuming he did it deliberately. But if you think drivers do such things, there’s your remedy.

    • A car standing in the escape row is a danger to a potential seccond car that needs it and that second car could be cominng in out of control after a shunt or a blown tyre. Therefore, as soon a car is in the escape road, there’ll be yellows, especially on street courses.

      • At the end of the escape road, it isn’t (IMO & FWIW etc) considering the length of the road (which is why I asked the question in the first place) – but I’m perfectly happy to accept the rule.

        • That road wasn’t long, especially for a car that might come sliding in with a missing wheel or a backwards with a flat rear tyre. You can’t really leave cars in a narrow escape road.

          • It really has to be safety first in situations like that. For all the marshalls knew he could have skidded on oil or something rather than just braked too late.

            The only way to avoid this is on courses like Monaco where there isn’t an easy way to get a car clear in the event of an issue is to have one car at a time on track.

            Whether it was intentional or just a mistake it highlights a weakness of running the same qualifying system at all tracks regardless of suitability.

    • @ Nigel

      the Stewards – had nothing to do with the yellow flag

      that’s the MARSHAL’S responsibility ……

  5. BBC highlights in full on ‘nothing to see here’ mode – not even mentioning the reversing: “he parked at the end of the road” …!?

    • I watched that coverage too. They showed Nico on the onboard getting the clutch in and looking for reverse on the wheel but then cut away.

      In the later commentary it was Eddie saying that he “drove right to the end of the escape road”. And it was Eddie saying that running off the track is no guarantee of yellow flags.

      Both points could be argued fairly easily but at this point probably better to just give Nico the benefit of the doubt and move on.

      But does HAM feel cheated and will he feel hard done by again and fall to the back of the order if he suffers a bump or bit of hardship in the first corner.

  6. Yes and therein lies the difference. Rosberg did it to himself. That was the best he could do. Everyone behind him did not get a full chance.

      • Over it? Did the yellows for Rosberg ruin Lewis’ last lap? That’s the point I’m making. Not sure what you’re on about.

        • I mean stop moaning about

          ” what might have been’s … ”

          How many times are there incidents in qualifying with yellow or red flags that scupper someones chances of improving ?

          It happens ALL the time …

          Nico went off – there was a yellow flag – END OF STORY !

          • Ummm…. aside from once mentioning it would have been nice to see Lewis and anyone else get to finish their last laps, since I find that part of quali the most exciting, where have I been moaning about what might have been?

  7. IF it was MErcedes intention to see a more audacious Rosberg after his contract renewal they might have gotten more than they were hoping for…

  8. Actually I’m not presuming he did it deliberately. But if you think drivers do that sort of thing, there’s your answer.

    • I don’t think Nico did it deliberately.

      Just like I don’t think Ericsson deliberately ran into Massa either.

      They both made mistakes.

      They both fucked up – and other drivers suffered.

      As did they ….

      These things happen all the time in all forms of motorsport.

      • I think it doesn’t really matter if he did it or not. It’s the impression of it that’s really at the heart of people’s reactions.

        I would actually say Massa’s thought process at the moment of impact was “There’s no way any car could understeer that —- WTF?” LOL

      • If hammy had ignored the yellow flag, what would his punishment have been? Loss of the lap or DSQ from Q3? Just wondering if he had kept his foot in and beaten him would they have just taken the time away?

        • IMO – think loss of lap time and a reprimand.

          The problem is as a driver you don’t know if the yellow is just for the incidence you can see ( aka Nico ) or if there’s another incidence further on in the sector, which you haven’t come across ….

          That’s why the rule is to slow down – for safety reasons.

          In some circuits the team can let a driver know – but Monaco is so short there just isn’t time.

        • Dunno.
          Nico got away with it during last year’s British GP, for example.

        • Probably would have received a triple punishment, the 2014 ruleset/stewards are into BDSM…

        • I would actually take FR3.5 off the bill, no passing at all from too much aero and rock solid tyres. Add F3 and then maybe GP3 to back up GP2.

  9. you may of read of previous comment about betting on the toro rosso drivers for a top 6 finish at 50/1, they’re now 2/1. Hope they come in now.

    • That was definitely a very good shout the other day… Vergne is looking like he’s on fire, perhaps he was allowed to eat something, or is just ‘hungrier’ than the rest..

  10. Fact of the matter is:
    Nico/Britney beat Lewis in their first attempt during q3.
    Yes, Lewis (not to forget a few others as well) got robbed of a second attempt by an mistake from Britney, but instead of b***ing about Lewis could have simply gone faster in his first try. Yellow flags aren’t exactly uncommon in Monaco and to ensure the best possible starting position you have to be on it from the beginning. End of story for me.

    • he didn’t bitch though. he is clearly pissed and probably plans to ram rosberg off the road tomorrow if he doesn’t let him past, but he did not bitch.

    • True to that. Though it looked like Lewis had similar pattern in Q2, where in first set of fast laps he lost to Nico by a fraction, then at end suddenly finding more speed. If this was in purpose to give Nico false confidence and Lewis was confident he can squeeze a tenth or two of the time, than I can understand his frustration. In that case it was his risky sandbagging strategy that backfired.

      Nico though would have known that he can push it to the limit as he was leading. If he’s out yellow flags likely to come at Monaco, so nothing to lose unless you crash your car. A guy who is driving at his home streets as we’ve been reminded, would know where are the safe exits and use them not to crash his car.

  11. Agree that Lewis should have solidified a faster time earlier in Q3 to avoid being caught out later. Rosberg certainly had his measure for most of quali. As fans we all lost really – lost the opportunity to see Lewis do his thing and clinch another pole. Such a let down after all the anticipation – Monaco/history/blue skies/glam chicks.
    Does spice things up for the race!

    This is funny:
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7SD0ychlTgs
    (Schumacher’s quali driver interviews when he stacked on the wall. Alonso looks pissed off but maintains composure – unlike Lewis who looks like someone stole his lollipop !

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