The AMG Mercedes F1 Team’s dominance of the pole position continued as Nico Rosberg emerged fastest in the Saturday Qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix at the glamorous street circuit. It was Mercedes’ fourth pole of the season and Rosberg’s third consecutive one. Team mate Lewis Hamilton was second fastest with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel third.
The grid will line up in a Mercedes 1-2 and a Red Bull 1-2 as Mark Webber was fourth fastest ahead of the best of the rest – Kimi Raikkonen fifth for Lotus, Fernando Alonso sixth for Ferrari, Sergio Perez seventh for McLaren, Adrian Sutil eighth for Force India, Jenson Button ninth and Jean Eric-Vergne in tenth for Toro Rosso.
Light rain at the start of qualifying ensured that the initial runs were made on the intermediate tyres but the latter sessions were dry enough which saw the slicks come into play and although Red Bull put up a brief fight with Webber & Vettel holding the one-two positions provisionally, the last runs saw both the Mercedes pip them and claim their own one-two.
Felipe Massa did not start qualifying at all as the Ferrari team could not get his car back up running after he had crashed in the third practice session earlier. Jules Bianchi spun off almost as soon as the session began and he will start from the back with Massa. Q1 saw Force India’s Paul Di Resta drop out from contention, his rear tyres lack of grip ensuring he couldn’t better the sixteenth fastest time in that session. Romain Grosjean failed to make out of Q2 after seemingly being held up by the slow moving Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg. The pair will start from eleventh and thirteenth on the grid.
With the narrow street circuit of Monaco not lending itself well for overtaking and thus also negating the DRS-effect, the battle for the race will me more strategic than in previous races. Also playing its part, rather less dominantly perhaps, would the dreaded word – tyre management. It is thought likely that Alonso and Raikkonen can afford to stop just the once as compared to the Red Bulls and the Mercedes, thereby increasing their podium chances. And if there’s a safety car situation, then all bets are off!
I’m tipping Rosberg to take out a lights-to-flag victory with Raikkonen second and Alonso third.