The promise shown in yesterday’s practice session continued on Saturday when Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo took pole for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix. He finished ahead of the two Mercedes with Nico Rosberg in second and Lewis Hamilton in third. Qualifying proved to be another frustrating experience for the defending world champion.
Ricciardo finished 0.169 seconds ahead of championship leader Nico Rosberg to claim his first ever pole. He’s failed to reach the top three in any race this season so will be hoping to at least get on the podium on Sunday.
Ricciardo’s Red Bull has a new, upgraded Renault engine and it’s certainly done the trick so far this weekend. Combined with its excellent chassis, Red Bull are closing the gap on Mercedes and getting ahead of Ferrari. Speaking after qualifying, Ricciardo said, “It feels good. I have always enjoyed this place. We have a good package and it is nice to make the most of it.”
It was Lewis Hamilton though who had another troubled qualifying session. His unreliable Mercedes suffered an engine problem in final qualifying meaning he only had one run compared to everyone else’s two. That must have really hurt the British driver as he had been fastest in the first sector on his final lap of the session. For once he was almost speechless but admitted, “I don’t really know what to say right now. It was a difficult qualifying but the good thing is I did get out to do a lap s it is not as bad as some of the races have been.”
Again Ferrari had a frustrating time and the language coming from Vettel wasn’t exact fit to broadcast. A fourth place finish wasn’t too bad considering the Mercedes take the top two spots when both cars are working properly. However, Vettel was 0.9 seconds off the pace and after a bit of language usually used when someone cuts in front of you while out shopping, he declared “This car’s got worse.” Nico Hulkenburg was fifth in his Force India. His team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was sixth but a gearbox change drops him down to 11th. McLaren had been hoping for a top ten finish but only Alonso managed that qualifying in 10th with Button down in 13th.
It certainly looks like being a fascinating race with some rain forecast. That could end Ricciardo’s hopes of starting on the slower super-soft tyre before switching to an ultra-soft tyre for the final part of the race. Can Ricciardo get the win here or will it be another win for Rosberg? Will Hamilton’s car make it to the finish and does Vettel know any other swear words? Lots of questions to be answered on Sunday.
I’ll be back next weekend with another blog, in the meantime enjoy your racing.