Jenson Button is widely expected to canter off into the distance in today’s Monaco Grand Prix as the post-qualifying fuel loads confirm he has a significant advantage over his rivals.
Button carried 42.5kg of fuel into Q3 (approximately 23 laps), which made his pole position lap in the dying seconds of the session even more impressive.
“It was definitely a lap to remember,” reflected the 29-year-old, “and I was really on the edge the whole way round! It was a real fight today and I thought that Rubens would have the upper hand in qualifying as he has been so strong all weekend.”
“It s not going to be easy in the race tomorrow as Monaco is just so unpredictable but starting from pole is without doubt the best position be in.â€
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was the lightest of the frontrunners with just 26.5kg of fuel, and had he not been held up by Williams Kazuki Nakajima on his final flying lap he would have almost certainly clawed his way onto the front row of the grid. The German’s strategy has been severely compromised and he will be stopping as early as lap 13-14.
“As I came out of Rascasse, Nakajima was almost stopped on the circuit and, you know, if you want to get everything right here in qualifying you have to have a clear lap,” explained Vettel.
“That wasn t the case on the last half of my lap when I was stuck in traffic – when that happens you lose downforce and start to slide, so it s anything but qualifying! It was a shame today as the car was good and we could have done better – but there are 78 laps to go, so let s see what happens tomorrow.â€
Second place man Kimi Raikkonen poses the only real threat to Jenson Button but will still stop a couple of laps earlier than the Briton. If he is to win the race he will have to get past the Brawn driver – his KERS system could help him at the start but its use is of question around the confines of Monte Carlo.
“The start will be very important and on the short straight here, the KERS will definitely be a help, but not as much as elsewhere,” said the Finn. “All the same, it s good to be back in the fight for the top places and I will give it my best shot to try and win, because that s the only thing that matters.”
A more likely scenario is that Raikkonen will be forced to defend his position to Rubens Barrichello who is carrying a couple of extra laps of fuel and perhaps should have locked out the front row for Brawn.
A straightforward race perhaps on paper for Button and Brawn, but with a high chance of the safety car being deployed, predicting the outcome of the Monaco Grand Prix is always a tough bet – you might be better off putting your money on the roulette tables in Casino Square.