Kimi Raikkonen claims a stunning Pole Position for the Monaco GP after an 129 GP drought

27 May 2017

In Qualifying at the Monaco GP circuit today, Kimi Raikkonen claimed his first Pole Position since the 2008 French GP ahead of his team mate Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas in a session that saw Lewis Hamilton drop out of Q2 and both Stoffel Vandoorne (despite his crash in Q2) and Jenson Button put in stellar performances despite taking grid penalties.

Q1 saw eleven drivers take to the track straight away to get their qualifying off to the best possible start. With teams such as Ferrari only needing 1 flying lap to get up to speed and get temperatures into their Pirelli tyres and teams such as Mercedes and Red Bull needing up to two laps to do that; all eyes would be on the top five positions throughout the session.

With Sebastian Vettel leading the field in the early stages of Q1 ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez- it would appear that Ferrari have set the ground running and affirming the assumption that their FP3 performance is not be taken lightly.

In the second half of Q1, Max Verstappen put in a stunning lap to head the time sheets by 0.012 seconds ahead of Vettel; showing Red Bull cannot be discounted from the fight either. Haas driver Romain Grosjean lost the back end of the car going into the sequence of corners going into the hairpin. He managed luckily not to hit any other car while spinning the car back the right way and was able to continue running in the session.

In the final stages of Q1, Marcus Ericsson had to stop his Sauber at the chicane after the tunnel in the escape road due to the left rear tyre rim braking after hitting the left barrier going into the corner. But it was Verstappen, Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Bottas who were the top five drivers of the session as we headed into Q2.

With the start of Q2 being just like the start of Q1, there are twelve drivers on the track wanting to get their laps done. With Raikkonen being the first driver to hit the timesheets, all eyes were on the rest of the field and what they could do to beat him. But Lewis Hamilton had a moment at Massenet where he brilliantly saved the car from the barriers that could have ended his session; just like it ended Lance Stroll’s day on Thursday.

In the second half of Q2, Hamilton looked like he was badly struggled in his Mercedes and could be out of the session. But Stoffel Vandoorne on his flying lap hit the barriers into the Swimming Pool just like Esteban Ocon in FP3 earlier today and he is out of the session which affects drivers such as Hamilton who needed to make up ground on his rivals. But at the end of Q2, Raikkonen leads the grid into Q3 ahead of Vettel, Verstappen, Bottas and Ricciardo with Hamilton indeed shockingly out of Qualifying.

Heading into Q3, all eyes were upon if which Ferrari or Red Bull driver could take Pole Position. It was Raikkonen who led the field first ahead of Ricciardo and Vettel and everyone was hoping that Button could have a stunning performance that could help the penalty he will receive after the session ends.

But it was Kimi Raikkonen who claimed Pole Position for the Monaco GP with a lap time of 1:12.178. This is also the fifteenth Pole Position for a Finnish driver in Formula One alongside this being Kimi’s first Pole Position in 129 GP’s since the 2008 French GP and what a performance it was!

Raikkonen finished ahead of his team mate Sebastian Vettel in second place who was 0.043 seconds behind him and ahead of Valtteri Bottas in a brilliant third place who was 0.045 seconds behind Raikkonen.

Max Verstappen qualified in fourth place ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in fifth place, Carlos Sainz Jr in sixth place, Sergio Perez in seventh place, Romain Grosjean in eighth place, Jenson Button in a stunning ninth place and Stoffel Vandoorne who rounded off the top ten finishers (with both having to take penalties).

Daniil Kvyat qualified in eleventh place ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in twelfth place, Kevin Magnussen in thirteenth place, Lewis Hamilton in fourteenth place and Felipe Massa in fifteenth place.

As we head into the latter stages of the grid, Esteban Ocon ended the session in sixteenth place ahead of Jolyon Palmer in seventeenth place, Lance Stroll in eighteenth place, Pascal Wehrlein in nineteenth place and Marcus Ericsson in twentieth place.

The classification of Qualifying for the Monaco GP is as follows:-

1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1.12.178
2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 0.043s
3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 0.045s
4. Max Verstappen, Red-Bull-TAG Heuer, 0.318s
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull-TAG Heuer, 0.820s
6. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 0.984s
7. Sergio Perez, Force India-Mercedes, 1.151s
8. Romain Grosjean, Haas Ferrari, 1.171s
9. Jenson Button, McLaren-Honda, 1.435s*
10. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren-Honda, No Time Set**
11. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1.13.516
12. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1.13.628
13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas Ferrari, 1.13.959
14. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1.14.106
15. Felipe Massa, Williams-Mercedes, 1.20.529
16. Esteban Ocon, Force India-Mercedes, 1.14.101
17. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1.14.696
18. Lance Stroll, Williams-Mercedes, 1.14.893
19. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber-Ferrari, 1.15.159
20. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber-Ferrari, 1.15.276

[*- Jenson Button takes a 15 place grid penalty due to changing engine components ahead of qualifying]

[**- Stoffel Vandoorne receives a third place grid penalty due to his incident with Felipe Massa at the Spanish GP]

Driving for Pleasure will be covering the Monaco GP weekend with our race report alongside the latest news.

Sarah Jones- @jonesy_laaa