Sebastian Vettel this afternoon took pole position for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix in a session marred by a big crash for Sauber’s Sergio Perez.
With two and a half minutes remaining of the Q3 session, Perez lost control on the exit of the tunnel and crashed into the barrier at the bottom of the hill after clouting the Armco barrier on the right hand side of the track.
Concerns immediately afterwards were for the motionless Mexican’s health, but the practical effects were that a number of drivers had their fast laps affected, including Lewis Hamilton, the driver who had looked most likely to challenge Vettel for pole.
The German, who had set his time prior to Perez’s crash, was sitting pretty at the top of the timesheets as the session was restarted, and Hamilton was unable to get anywhere near the Red Bull man’s time, ending the session with only the seventh fastest time.
Jenson Button, in the other McLaren, will start second – as he too set a fast time before Perez’s accident – with Mark Webber third and Fernando Alonso in fourth spot for Ferrari. Michael Schumacher will be pleased with fifth on the grid despite having used all his allocation of super-soft tyres.
A couple of offs for Felipe Massa in Q2 did not unduly affect his Q3 performance and he will start sixth tomorrow. Schumacher’s team mate Nico Rosberg had a massive accident in morning practice today in an uncannily similar manner to Perez, and although initially impressing with his return to the car in Q1 and Q2, could only manage eighth on the grid.
Pastor Maldonado, whose Monaco experience is considerable for one so young, takes ninth slot on the grid, while Perez will sit tenth if he is capable of starting the race, an eventuality in considerable doubt at the current time.
The Renaults of Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld disappointed today, as they could only manage 11th and 16th on the grid respectively. Rubens Barrichello will leave from 12th slot with Perez’s Sauber team mate Kamui Kobayashi surviving a rear-ending from Jaime Alguersuari in Q1 at la Rascasse to take 13th. Both were summoned to the stewards following qualifying and it remains to be seen whether a penalty for either will be dished out.
Force India’s Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil line up line astern 14th and 15th tomorrow, with Sebastian Buemi the last of the men from Q2.
Heikki Kovalainen was once again the best of the rest in a Lotus team rejuvenated by the courts’ decision to allow them to continue using their famous name, with Jarno Trulli following him in 19th. Alguersuari did not impress and he will start 20th, with the Virgins of Glock and d’Ambrosio in 21st and 22nd respectively.
Neither of the HRTs were able to participate in qualifying, although it looks as though they will be allowed to race.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m13.556s
2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m13.997s + 0.441
3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m14.019s + 0.463
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m14.483s + 0.927
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m14.682s + 1.126
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m14.877s + 1.321
7. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m15.280s + 1.724
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m15.766s + 2.210
9. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m16.528s + 2.972
10. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari No time
Q3 cut-off time: 1m15.545s Gap **
11. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m15.815s + 1.540
12. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m15.826s + 1.551
13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m15.973s + 1.698
14. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m16.118s + 1.843
15. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m16.121s + 1.846
16. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m16.214s + 1.939
17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m16.300s + 2.025
Q3 cut-off time: 1m16.813s Gap *
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m17.343s + 2.136
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m17.381s + 2.174
20. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m17.820s + 2.613
21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m17.914s + 2.707
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m18.736s + 3.529
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth No time
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth No time