Formula One: Rosberg claims pole in principality controversy!

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Nico Rosberg, for the moment, has claimed a controversial pole position for the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix, ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton. The controversy arose when Rosberg was forced to take to an escape road in the final minutes of qualifying, which bought out the yellow flags and resulted in Hamilton having to abort his lap, denying any chance of a pole position for the Brit. The incident remains under investigation.

In the midst of the controversy, Daniel Ricciardo took 3rd on the grid, once again beating his illustrious team-mate Sebastian Vettel who will line up in 4th.

Q1:

Monaco GPWith the inter-team showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg ramping up, the first 18 minute session began with the pair setting the pace, with Rosberg 2 tenths clear of Hamilton early on. The Mercedes drivers had set comparatively poor lap times on their first laps, but the rubber soon came to them. The ideal strategy seemed to be completing 2 or 3 flying laps to allow the pace to come to the tyres.

Russian Rookie Daniil Kvyat seemed to push too soon as he fell foul of the infamous bump on the exit of the tunnel. In a similar incident to that seen with Rosberg, Perez and Button in the past, Daniil lost control over the bump and lost his front wing after contact with the outside wall. The Toro Rosso driver was very lucky not to damage his car any further and managed to make it back to the pit-lane to continue his qualifying effort.

The closing moments of the session saw a number of drivers come out on the super-soft tyres to try and get through to the next stage of qualifying. The Mercedes drivers remained on the slower compound but soon started losing a few positions as other drivers improved. Jean-Eric Vergne managed to finish the session in P1 for Toro Rosso, with his team-mate Kvyat managing to get a last minute improvement to get into P16. He may have been eliminated by either Gutierrez or Sutil who were in the drop-zone, but the Sauber drivers didn’t get a chance.

This was because of a late incident at Mirabeau. Felipe Massa went wide at the corner to let Marcus Ericsson by as he was on a timed lap. However, the Swedish driver lost the rear of his car and put both drivers into the wall. A sarcastic slow clap from the Brazilian showed his displeasure, but it also meant that no driver could improve due to the yellow flags. This ensured that the usual suspects in the Caterham and Marussia cars were relegated, along with the Sauber pair of Esteban and Adrian. Massa’s previous time had been enough to secure his position in Q2, but damage to his Williams meant that he would take no further part in Qualifying and would start in P16. Ericsson will start from the pit-lane in the race tomorrow after an investigation by the stewards.

Out of Q1:

POSDriverTeamTime
17Esteban GutierrezSauber1’18.741
18Adrian SutilSauber1’18.745
19Jules BianchiMarussia1’19.332
20Max ChiltonMarussia1’19.928
21Kamui KobayashiCaterham1’20.133
22Marcus EricssonCaterham1’21.732

Q2:

Monaco GPIt was a repeat of the 1st session at the start of Q2, with the Mercedes drivers emerging early on to take the top spot on the time-sheets. Rosberg set a time that was just a few tantalising thousandths ahead of team-mate Hamilton. Ricciardo and Alonso continued to be ‘best of the rest’ in 3rd and 4th.

Sebastian Vettel’s effort to end team-mate Ricciardo’s streak of being the better Red Bull was hampered with apparent issues on-board the champions RB10. Sebastian reported that he had lost KERS on his lap, but still managed to jump up into the top 5. The issue wasn’t resolved however as the German went on to tell his team that the “problem needed to be sorted.”

Force India had shown pace throughout practice, but were struggling in Q2 with both cars in the drop-zone in the closing minutes. Sergio Perez managed to get a late improvement in to push former team-mate Button into the danger zone. Another improvement by Jean-Eric Vergne and others saw Perez on the brink of elimination in 10th, with it all coming down to whether Button could improve. The pace never arrived for Jenson however, with the Briton electing to coast across the finish line to seal his fate in elimination.

Out of Q2:

POSDriverTeamTime
11Nico HulkenburgForce India1’17.846
12Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’17.988
13Valtteri BottasWilliams1’18.082
14Romain GrosjeanLotus1’18.196
15Pastor MaldonadoLotus1’18.356
16Felipe MassaWilliamsNo time

Q3:

Monaco GPWith the final 12 minutes of qualifying getting under-way, the battle reignited between the two Silver Arrows in their fight for the important pole position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. All drivers elected to make two runs in qualifying, as per the norm this season. Rosberg won the first battle by managing to dip into the 1:15’s. Hamilton slotted into P2 and was once again just a matter of thousandths behind.

The drivers came back to the pits and then subsequently re-joined for their final chance at pole position. Both Nico and Lewis came back out; Lewis to try and steal pole, Nico to try and keep pole. Nico was ahead of Lewis on track and was having a scruffy start to his lap as he approached the second sector. As he plummeted down-hill toward Mirabeau, Nico seemed to come in too fast. Several corrections on the steering wheel led to a lock-up which forced the German to take to the escape road. This bought out the yellow flags as Rosberg began to creep back toward the track in reverse gear. The yellow flags meant that no driver was allowed to improve upon their best time in that sector, which resulted in Hamilton having to give up on his lap!

No one else was able to improve, which meant that despite his excursion, Nico Rosberg took Mercedes’ third pole in a row at Monaco and his 2nd pole in a row following on from the Spanish Grand Prix. Hamilton, who’s demeanour oozed displeasure, had to settle for 2nd, with Ricciardo holding on to take a brilliant 3rd place.

Sebastian Vettel overcame in Q2 problems to take 4th on the grid, 2 tenths ahead of Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. Alonso’s team-mate Raikkonen took 6th on the grid ahead of an impressive run by Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso. Two Rookies took 8th and 9th, with Magnussen’s McLaren edging the bruised Toro Rosso of Kvyat. Sergio Perez completed the top 10 for Force India.

Provisional 2014 Monaco Grand Prix qualifying results:

POSDriverTeamTime
1Nico RosbergMercedes1’15.989
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’16.048
3Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’16.384
4Sebastian VettelRed Bull1’16.547
5Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’16.686
6Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’17.389
7Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1’17.540
8Kevin MagnussenMcLaren1’17.555
9Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’18.090
10Sergio PerezForce India1’18.327
11Nico HulkenburgForce India1’17.846
12Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’17.988
13Valtteri BottasWilliams1’18.082
14Romain GrosjeanLotus1’18.196
15Pastor MaldonadoLotus1’18.356
16Felipe MassaWilliamsNo time
17Esteban GutierrezSauber1’18.741
18Adrian SutilSauber1’18.745
19Jules BianchiMarussia1’19.332
20Max ChiltonMarussia1’19.928
21Kamui KobayashiCaterham1’20.133
22Marcus EricssonCaterham1’21.732

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo

A debate immediately began following on from qualifying as to whether Nico Rosberg had replicated Michael Schumacher’s infamous ‘parking’ incident in the 2006 qualifying session, when he stopped his Ferrari at the final corner to bring out a red flag and prevent Fernando Alonso from stealing his pole position.

Nico Rosberg, who starts on pole: “No not [an ideal way to end qualifying.] I thought it was over – I thought the track would ramp up and someone else could beat my time. I’m happy it worked out. Pole at home is fantastic – it couldn’t be better.”

Lewis Hamilton refused to place blame upon his team-mate and continually insisted that he “wasn’t saying anything.”

Meanwhile, away from the controversy, Ricciardo commented on his 3rd place qualification: “I think all three of us don’t seem to be too pleased with ourselves. I think we all feel that we’ve left something on the table. I fought the car all the way round in qualifying – in turn eight I lost it and the lap was pretty much gone after that.”

Shortly after the session, the incident was put under investigation. At the time of publication, a decision is still being awaited. The outcome of this decision, along with several other investigations for impeding drivers, will be published in a report later this evening.

By Jordan Groves
Formula 1 correspondent for RTR Sports Marketing
Follow Jordan on twitter at www.twitter.com/jgroves1996

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