Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing stormed to a dominant pole position in the qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix. His lap time of 1:10.810 is the fastest any driver has ever lapped on the street circuit. This is the second career pole for the ever-smiling Australian, the first one was also achieved on the same circuit.
He will be joined on the front row by Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen will line up behind them on the second row. Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes and Esteban Ocon of Force India will line up on the third row of the grid.
Daniel Ricciardo Takes a Dominant Pole
Verstappen Eliminated even before Q1
The first qualifying session on the streets of Monte Carlo started with air temperatures at 25 degrees C while the track temperatures were at a high of 49 degrees C. The Red Bull garage was the busiest, with the mechanics trying all they could to repair the damage caused on Max Verstappen‘s car after a big crash in FP3. But it was all in vain as the car could not be repaired on time. Ricciardo set the fastest time of 1:12.013 which was enough to keep him on the top of the time sheets.
Apart from Verstappen’s DNS, there were a few more surprises in Q1. Kevin Magnussen of Haas set the slowest time of all. Sergey Sirotkin of Williams set an impressive 8th fastest time. Charles Leclerc also did well to set the 9th fastest time.
Lance Stroll, Marcus Ericsson and Brendon Hartley were the other three drivers eliminated apart from Magnussen.
Hulkenberg in the drop zone in Q2
Most cars started the second qualifying session on the pink-striped hypersoft tyres on their initial runs, except the Silver Arrows. They were gambling on an alternative strategy by opting for ultrasofts, but it did not pay off. Finally, they had to run again on hypersoft tyres to set the 4th and 5th fastest times. Daniel Ricciardo was blazing once again with a new lap record of 1:11.278. Kimi Raikkonen was close on his heels with a time just a tenth of a second shy.
Nico Hulkenberg, who has done so well in qualifying sessions in the season so far, was uncharacteristically slower than his teammate in this Q2 session. He got eliminated along with Stoffel Vandoorne, Sergey Sirotkin, Charles Leclerc and Romain Grosjean.
Ricciardo in a league of his own in Q3
The top-ten shootout started in anticipation of a Red Bull pole. Daniel Ricciardo responded with an unprecedented lap time of 1:10.810 setting another lap record. No one could get any closer to him with only Hamilton threatening briefly with a fastest first sector, but ultimately settling for the third best time of 1:11.039.
Vettel could get closest with a lap time 0.229 seconds slower to the pole. Last year’s pole sitter – Kimi Raikkonen – could only manage P4. Force India did well to take P6 and P9. Alonso took P7 for McLaren, while Sainz and Gasly out-qualified their teammates taking P8 and P10 respectively.
Race prospects positive for Red Bull
On a circuit which pays the highest premium on starting grid position, Ricciardo and Vettel are well positioned for a great finish. However Mercedes have not been as far behind on pace as earlier expected. A few crashes on the streets with a couple of safety car periods should make for an interesting race. Will Ricciardo get back his win which was snatched two years back? Let us wait and watch on Sunday.
The full time-sheet of the Monaco GP Qualifying session:
|1||3||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||1:12.013||1:11.278||1:10.810||17|
|6||31||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:13.028||1:12.188||1:12.061||27|
|9||11||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:12.848||1:12.194||1:12.154||23|
|10||10||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||1:12.941||1:12.313||1:12.221||29|
|16||28||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||1:13.179||12|