Vettel secures pole in disrupted Monaco qualifying

Sebastian Vettel will start the Monaco Grand Prix in pole position after setting an impressive lap around the challenging street circuit.

The reigning world champion set a time of one minute, 13.556 seconds to take his twentieth career pole position in a severely interrupted qualifying session.

McLaren’s Jenson Button will join him on the front row while his team-mate Lewis Hamilton will start in a disappointing seventh.

A heavy accident for Sergio Perez at the harbour front chicane with two minutes remaining brought out the red flags. The session was stopped for 40 minutes while the Mexican was stretchered away and the safety barriers were reset.

Once the green flags were waved, there was not enough time left for any of the nine remaining drivers to get their Pirellis warmed up sufficiently to improve on their previous lap times.

Therefore the top six remained unchanged in the final two minutes of Q3, with Button ahead of Mark Webber’s Red Bull and Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher equalled his best grid position since his return to Formula One with fifth for Mercedes, while Felipe Massa put his Ferrari in sixth.

The biggest loser in qualifying was McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. He had been the quickest in both Q1 and Q2, but as a result of the red flags he had no opportunity to set a competitive lap time to challenge Vettel for the top spot.

The best he could only do was the seventh quickest time when the session resumed, which was only sufficient enough to place him ahead of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes and Pastor Maldonado’s Williams. As for Sergio Perez – should the Sauber driver be fit to take part in Sunday’s race – he will start in tenth position.

Vitaly Petrov missed out on Q3 for the first time this season. The Renault driver’s final flying lap splitting Maldonado from his Williams team-mate Barrichello, while Nick Heidfeld in the other Renault was a disappointing P16.

The biggest name not to make it into Q2 was Jaime Alguersuari, who was only twentieth quickest – slower than both Team Lotus drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli. It was Alguersuari’s worst qualifying performance since the 2009 Italian Grand Prix.

One of the Spaniard’s late efforts on the super soft ‘Option’ tyre was thwarted when he came across Kamui Kobayashi on an out-lap at Rascasse and made a minor contact with the back end of the Sauber. Both drivers were summoned to the race stewards to explain his actions.

Neither Hispania took part in qualifying with Vitantonio Liuzzi’s final practice crash leaving the team with no time to repair the damaged car. As for his team-mate Narain Karthikeyan, a rear suspension problem was discovered. With no time set – never mind the 107 per cent qualifying limit – both drivers may not be allowed to start the Monaco Grand Prix.

Qualifying times from Monte Carlo:

1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m13.556s
2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m13.997s
3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m14.019s
4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m14.483s
5.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m14.682s
6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m14.877s
7.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m15.280s
8.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m15.766s
9.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth    1m16.528s
10.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       No time
11.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault              1m15.815s
12.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth    1m15.826s
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m15.973s
14.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m16.118s
15.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m16.121s
16.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault              1m16.214s
17.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m16.300s
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m17.343s
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault        1m17.381s
20.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m17.820s
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth      1m17.914s
22.  Jerome D’Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth      1m18.736s
23.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth         No time
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         No time

107% time: 1m20.471s

12 thoughts to “Vettel secures pole in disrupted Monaco qualifying”

  1. The latest developments on Sergio Perez as reported by

    Sergio Perez has suffered a major crash during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

    The Sauber driver appeared to lose control of his car under braking for the chicane in the closing minutes of Q3, with the car snapping into the barriers on the right hand side.

    The car then skidded down the road before smashing sideways into the barriers at the end of the chicane – where both Jenson Button and Karl Wendlinger have crashed heavily in the past.

    Perez’s accident came just hours after Nico Rosberg had a similar crash in free practice, but he was lucky not to hit the barriers as his Mercedes GP slid further down the track past the chicane.

    Sergio Perez was conscious and talking following his accident during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, his Sauber team confirmed.

    The Mexican crashed heavily against the barriers at the chicane after losing control at the exit of the tunnel and was not moving inside the car.

    He was extracted from the cars by the marshals and then taken to the medical centre in an ambulance.

    A Sauber spokesman said Perez was “conscious and talking” after the accident, and that he would be taken to hospital.

    No further information was given.

  2. Jenson Button said that track conditions at the end of Monaco Grand Prix qualifying were a key factor in preventing him from challenging Sebastian Vettel for pole position.

    Sergio Perez’s heavy accident brought out the red flags with just over two minutes of Q3 remaining, at which point Button lay provisionally second on the grid, 0.441s behind Vettel’s Red Bull.

    Button said that the slippery nature of the circuit and a long wait in the pitlane for the green light to be shown both hampered his performance when the session resumed.

    “It was very slippery but we wanted to get out early to push on the out-lap,” said Button, who secured only his third front row start since joining McLaren at the start of 2010 as nobody managed to improve their times.

    “But there wasn’t any tyre temperature because we sat a the end of the pit lane for two and a half minutes. At least I did a good lap in Q3 – much better than the Q2 laps.”

    The 2009 world champion’s qualifying effort marked only his third front-row appearance since joining McLaren last year.

    Button wished Perez a speedy recovery following his accident: “It’s great that he’s talking and okay. I went in there in 2003 and I know how much it hurts. I’m not sure if he’ll be racing tomorrow, but hopefully he’ll get well soon.”


  3. After taking his fifth pole position from six races this season, world championship leader Sebastian Vettel still says that qualifying is all important in Monte Carlo. has the story.

    Sebastian Vettel says pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix remains very important despite the increased overtaking seen this year.

    The German secured his fifth pole in six races in an interrupted qualifying session on Saturday.

    And although the Red Bull driver conceded the race at Monte Carlo will be very long and difficult, he insists starting from the top spot is still vital.

    “It is a long race always here, a bit of a casino,” said Vettel. “Seventy-eight laps is a long race and as we have seen grands prix this year with multiple pitstops that could change in the last minutes.

    “But one thing that remains unchanged is that pole position is very important here. All eyes are on tomorrow’s race and we have to push hard – so see will what we can do.

    “All in all I am very happy with qualifying, starting on clean side, so it couldn’t be any better.”

    Vettel admitted it was hard to be 100 per cent focused after seeing Sergio Perez’s accident with two minutes of the session left.

    “You sit inside your car, asking for feedback and updates, and to be honest it is difficult to keep the focus and you don’t feel 100 per cent well when you don’t know what is going on. The message is that he is fine, conscious, talking and it’s a big relief.”

    Although Perez was conscious and talking, world champion Vettel said today’s crash should serve as a wake-up call to improve safety even more.

    “If we have comparisons to the past then between the lines you can read criteria that things are too safe these days, but things like these are a wake.up call. We have to make sure we learn from this, although there is little we can do for tomorrow.

    “The best message is that Sergio is okay. We race on street circuits like this or Singapore, and it is the drivers’ job to make sure we defend ourselves. That should be the targets. But the most important thing is that Sergio is okay and we will have a good and safe race tomorrow.”

  4. During the final practice session, Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg had a crash at the harbour front chicane but managed to avoid hitting the barrier, unlike Sergio Perez. has the details.

    Nico Rosberg believes it may be time to change the barriers at the chicane of the Monaco circuit following Sergio Perez’s crash during qualifying.

    The Mexican driver was taken to hospital after he crashed heavily against the barriers after losing control of his car ahead of the chicane.

    Rosberg had been involved in a very similar accident in the morning’s practice, but the Mercedes driver was lucky to just miss the point where Perez crashed later.

    He admitted he was very lucky to avoid the barrier, and called for changes to improve the safety.

    “I was very fortunate this morning that I completely missed that barrier,” said Rosberg. “That barrier has been there for a long time and a lot of things have happened there.

    “Maybe it’s time to reconsider because it should be pretty easy to get it out of the way and move it back 50 meters or something. I think it may be time to do that.”

    Rosberg also said that the bump at the end of the tunnel, where the cars are travelling at very high speed was also a concern.

    “Monaco is generally a dangerous track. It’s because you have a very high speed and you jump. As you start braking you jump in the braking zone, and that’s a bit of a concern obviously.”

    The German admitted he had not see Perez’s crash.

    “I didn’t see it and I think it’s better if I don’t see it,” he said.

  5. The latest news on Sergio Perez as reported by

    Sergio Perez has suffered no serious injuries in his heavy crash during qualifying at Monaco, his Sauber team has confirmed.

    The Swiss squad said the Mexican rookie had concussion and a sprained thigh but no broken bones following a scan, and that doctors could not find further injuries.

    The news means Perez is likely to be absent from tomorrow’s race, although the team did not mention anything about his participation in the event.

    Sauber added that it would investigate the reason for the crash.

    “It was with great relief the Sauber F1 Team received the news that Sergio Perez has no serious injuries after his heavy accident in the closing minutes of the final part of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix,” said Sauber in a statement.

    “Shortly before 15:00 hrs he had crashed into the barrier after the fast tunnel section of the circuit.

    “The 21-year-old Mexican was taken to the Hospital Princess Grace in Monaco from where the team received further information at 16:25 hrs: The doctors said Perez had suffered concussion and a sprained thigh, but no broken bones and, following a scan, they could find no further injuries.

    “The reason for the accident will be investigated and the team will update the media as soon as it has any further information.”

  6. Hispania Racing team’s drivers Tonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan will be on the grid of the Monaco Grand Prix after being allowed to race on Saturday.

    Neither Liuzzi nor Karthikeyan managed to set a time in qualifying, the Italian having crashed in final practice.

    The Indian suffered a suspension problem during qualifying that meant he was unable to leave the pits.

    Despite not managing to set a time, the Spanish squad confirmed that the Monaco stewards have decided to allow the duo to take part in the race based on their practice times.


  7. Both Jenson Button and Mark Webber has commented that the safety at the chicane can be improved further to avoid any such incidents following Sergio Perez’s accident. has the story.

    Jenson Button and Mark Webber believe that safety measures around Monaco’s chicane need to be improved, following Sergio Perez’s heavy impact with the barrier during qualifying.

    Perez was conscious and talking after the accident, but was taken to hospital after his Sauber hit the Armco on the right side of the circuit before colliding with another barrier at the exit of the chicane.

    Button suffered a near-identical accident at the same corner in 2003 and was unable to race due to injury.

    While he admitted that safety measures have been improved since then – and especially since the accident that put Karl Wendlinger in a coma in 1994, he believes there is still more than can be done.

    “I think the cars have improved dramatically with safety since Karl Wendlinger’s accident and the barrier has been moved back since my accident,” said the McLaren driver.

    “But there are some areas – and this is the main one – where we want it to be safer so that we can come here and enjoy the racing. It is a tricky corner and it’s difficult to know what it [the solution] is – but I think we need to look further on what we can do with the run-off there.”

    “Motor racing is dangerous and it says it on the passes, [but] there is always more we can do. We need to keep tweaking some areas, sit down and really improve for the future.”

    Button said that F1 cars have a tendency to veer right under braking for the chicane due to the undulations of the track, and that the problem is exacerbated by cars with exhaust-blown diffusers running on low fuel loads, such as in the latter stages of qualifying.

    However, he commended a decision to remove ‘speed humps’ from the run-off area next to the chicane, and said that this move almost certainly prevented a much more serious crash.

    “It is when you first hit the brakes [that you feel it], added the 2009 world champion.

    “The rear goes very light for some reason, and it seems to be more of an issue this year because of the blown diffuser systems that a lot [of the cars] have. The rear goes very light and at that point you become a passenger, it pitches you into [the] right hand side and you lose braking ability as you lose two wheels.

    “I am happy [FIA technical delegate] Charlie [Whiting] made right call in taking speed humps out [of the run-off area next to the chicane] after Nico’s accident, because if [they were] there, it would have been even worse.”

    Red Bull driver Webber echoed Button’s feelings and said that Formula 1 can learn from Perez’s escape.

    “It has always been bumpy there under the brakes and every year the cars we have are a bit different aerodynamically,” Webber said. “And in terms of safety, it’s probably an area we need to look at and improve on, especially after [accidents there for] JB [Button] and also Karl Wendlinger in the mid 1990s.

    “There is a bump there, but it is just that if you have a problem with the rear, the chance to recover is very low. We saw Vitaly [Petrov] and he went straight down [the escape road]. We were also lucky they pulled the sleeping policeman up after this morning because he [Perez] could have had a nastier accident.

    “We need to keep learning and work hard with the FIA with the drivers and help out the guys – we are the ones in the cockpit so it’s nice to improve if we can.”

  8. Lewis Hamilton said that a wrong strategy choice was responsible for him qualifying down in seventh place for the Monaco Grand Prix.

    The McLaren driver had been fastest in both Q1 and Q2, but only planned a single run at the end of Q3 with super soft tyres and was one of the drivers caught on a flying lap when Sergio Perez’s heavy crash brought out the red flags with just over two minutes to go.

    In a bid to get a good track position once the green flags waved again, Hamilton left his garage early and queued in the pitlane, causing his tyres to lose temperature and leaving him with cold tyres and brakes and an understeering car.

    However, he does not believe that this was the main reason behind his worst qualifying performance since Japan last year.

    “It wasn’t the waiting in the pitlane, it was the strategy [we took],” said the 2008 world champion. I think we’ve been going well all weekend and I had the pace for pole; I’m certain about that.

    “Engineers advise that we should do one [run] at the end of Q3 and I didn’t contest it. You always have to take a balanced view with the engineers.

    “I definitely didn’t take into account – and I know they didn’t either – that in Monaco you can’t take risks in leaving it [your lap] right to the end.

    “You have to get out and get in a banker, like everyone else did. With racing experience you’d assume that most people would have that, but I guess other things were going on and we didn’t have that. It’s my worst Q3 for a long time.”

    Hamilton said that Sunday’s race would be a case of “damage limitation,” for him.

    “You can’t overtake here, so I’ll just get whatever I can,” he added. “I won’t give up, but there’s no chance to win realistically. Sebastian [Vettel] will walk away with it, but that’s racing.”

    Lewis Hamilton had his best qualifying time deleted for having jumped the chicane to set it and will drop down the grid of the Monaco GP.

    The Briton had already endured a difficult session after finishing in seventh position, with his runs hindered by the crash involving Sergio Perez.

    Hamilton’s time, however, has been deleted by the FIA stewards, after they deemed the McLaren driver had jumped the chicane during that lap.

    The British driver drops from seventh to ninth.


  9. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso believes that the grid positions for the Monaco Grand Prix is not the true potential of the pecking order between the teams. has the details.

    Fernando Alonso believes the grid for the Monaco Grand Prix does not represent to true pecking order, as he reckons Lewis Hamilton should have been on pole.

    Several drivers were hindered by the stoppage caused by Sergio Perez’s crash with over two minutes of the session remaining.

    That meant their final runs were not fast enough, and drivers like Hamilton were unable to set a significant time.

    Alonso, who qualified in fourth, reckons the Briton, seventh today, was favourite for pole.

    “In qualifying I did not have as good a feeling from the car as I got in free practice and we need to work out exactly why,” said Alonso.

    “Today, McLaren were very quick and I think Hamilton was probably favourite to get pole. I don’t think the result of Q3 represents the true order because the red flag mixed up plans for many of the drivers.

    “For Hamilton it went badly, while everything was fine for Red Bull, with us at a halfway point: we should have done two runs of two timed laps each without refuelling and therefore, we did not get the most out of the tyres.”

    The Ferrari driver believes overtaking will be “pretty much impossible” at Monaco despite KERS and DRS, with the Spaniard expecting drivers to try to do just one stop in the race.

    “I reckon that tomorrow, overtaking will be pretty much impossible, despite the KERS, DRS and whatever else,” he said. “The start will be very important and our race pace is good, so I hope I can make up some places, also making the most of any unpredictable situations and of our strategy.

    “I expect some drivers will try for two stops and maybe others will risk doing only one. The car is handling better than a week ago at the Catalunya circuit: the balance is fine and the super softs are working well.”

    Team-mate Felipe Massa qualified in sixth and the Brazilian admitted he was not thrilled with the result.

    “Starting sixth is not brilliant at Monaco but here you need to use your head in the race: we will have to concentrate throughout as anything can happen,” he said.

    “The start will be very important, but so too will be staying calm and cool-headed, lap after lap, because any mistake can cost you dear. Tyre degradation is less than we have seen before, so I don’t think there will be so many pitstops.”

  10. Fernando Alonso believes that ‘extreme’ aerodynamic development in Formula 1 this year may have played a part in the spate of crashes in Monaco this weekend.

    With F1 figures breathing a sigh of relief that Sergio Perez escaped serious injury in his frightening qualifying crash on the back of several incidents at that location in qualifying, there have been widespread calls for changes to be made to the Monaco chicane in time for next year.

    And although the design of the track at that point – with the end of the tyre barrier separating an escape road and the circuit itself – has come under scrutiny, Alonso thinks that F1 also has to look at the way cars are behaving this year.

    When asked for his explanation as to why four drivers have crashed at the same point, Alonso said: “I don’t know really. I don’t know the exact answer, but for sure there is a bump there in the braking zone which is not helping.

    “It is the nature of the circuit that maybe you lose the aerodynamics there, because of the way it goes around the circuit. It is a combination of many things – the poor grip that we have with the new rules and this year, the aerodynamics of the car that are for sure going for an extreme way of developing the car with the blown diffuser and exhausts. That is the way it is unfortunately.

    “For tomorrow there is not much we can do. But for next year we can see if there is a need to re-asphalt that area. For tomorrow we need to brake earlier.”

    One of the main contributing factors in all the crashes – suffered by Vitantonio Liuzzi, Vitaly Petrov, Nico Rosberg and Perez – is that the braking area is very bumpy, which is causing drivers to lock up their rears and lose control at that point of the track.

    Petrov said the situation at the exit of the tunnel was unsafe, and something needed to be done to the track surface.

    “It’s dangerous,” he said. “I nearly crashed there and Nico [Rosberg] was very lucky this morning. It is since they resurfaced the track after the tunnel.

    “The bump is five times worse than last year and it was really difficult to brake there all weekend. I have a real problem with my back now. I think they should change it because it’s dangerous.”

    Rubens Barrichello added: “With the bump like it is right now the car jumps, goes to the side, loses its brakes and you have no run-off.

    “This morning I bet you that not just Rosberg but everyone else had their hearts in the mouth because he was so lucky. If he had gone straight forward [into the barrier] it would have been a massive shunt. Also you cannot just complain, you either do something about it and take the whole corner away, or you just live with it.”

    Despite Alonso’s feelings about the 2011 car designs contributing to the crashes, Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn was adamant that blown diffuser development was not to blame.

    “I wouldn’t say there was any evidence for the blown diffuser,” he said. “I think it is just a very tricky part of the track. You have quite a high lateral load on, you are braking and it is bumpy.

    “In Nico’s case we were planning a high fuel run because there were a couple of things we wanted to try and resolve for tomorrow, so he had high fuel and as it was a long run. Tyre pressures were low and it just caught him out. It had no relevance of the blown diffuser.

    “It is bumpy there and there is a high lateral load. And if you are on the limit of grip then that is the consequence. Normally we are reasonably comfortable there, but in that incident with Nico, the tyres were low, he had a lot of fuel on board, the car was bottoming and it made it pretty tricky, so it is just a very difficult part of the track.”


  11. The latest news on Sergio Perez as reported by

    Sergio Perez will not take part in the Monaco Grand Prix following his qualifying accident, Sauber has confirmed.

    The Mexican was taken to the Princess Grace hospital on Saturday after crashing heavily against the barriers at the chicane, having lost control of his car under braking.

    Perez escaped serious injury, but his concussion means he will be unable to race in the Monte Carlo event.

    Perez will stay in hospital at least overnight.

    “Of course we are very relieved that Sergio wasn’t seriously injured,” said Peter Saber.

    “Up to the accident he was doing very well in qualifying, and also better than expected as he had outperformed all his direct competitors.”

    Technical director James Key added: “First and foremost we are obviously relieved with the reports that Sergio is okay. It’s always very worrying for a team when you see an accident of that magnitude, so it’s good to hear that he is fundamentally okay.

    “We are looking into what happened. There is no indication at the moment from the data we have seen that there was a problem with the car. But we have to talk to Sergio to investigate further what happened.”

    The rookie’s absence means team-mate Kamui Kobayashi will be the only Sauber in the race tomorrow.

  12. Formula 1 should not rest on its laurels about safety in the sport, despite Sergio Perez’s lucky escape from his terrifying crash in qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix.

    That is the view of Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn, who claims that lessons should be taken on board about car design and track configuration on the back of a number of crashes this weekend at the exit of the Monaco tunnel.

    Speaking about the incidents, which included Perez being taken to hospital after smashing sideways into the chicane barriers in a qualifying accident, Brawn believed action would be taken in the future.

    “It is a tricky part of the track and it has been for years,” explained Brawn, whose driver Nico Rosberg had a similar incident to Perez in Saturday morning practice but narrowly missed the barrier the Sauber ended up in. “With the events we had a few years ago, the barrier was put back and fortunately the cars have improved.

    “But we must never be complacent and think that the cars can’t improve. We can always improve things, but the work that has been done between the teams and the FIA since [Karl] Wendlinger’s accident and then Jenson Button’s as well, has been commendable.

    “What will happen for sure after this [Perez] incident is that the FIA and the teams will look again at what improvements the teams can make.

    “But for an accident of that severity, and Sergio to have bruising and some sprains, is something that F1 should be proud of. But we will not be complacent and rest on our laurels, and anything we can do to improve safety we will do.”

    Felipe Massa expressed his frustration at the situation, and reckoned that calls from drivers to change the layout of the chicane area in Monaco have fallen on deaf ears in recent years.

    “It is very dangerous,” said the Brazilian. “Some places we have been fighting for a long time already because of that wall, but it looks like Monaco is okay. Not like the other tracks, but [only at] Monaco can we drive like that, and they never took away that wall.

    “Here we saw two big accidents. Nico was lucky because it could have hurt the way he hit the wall. Sergio was not so lucky although he lost the car in a similar way because he crashed in the side. Anyway, it is pretty clear that it is dangerous.”

    Rubens Barrichello said that Monaco would likely always remain a dangerous place, because space limitations meant that a major track overhaul was impossible.

    “Monte Carlo is a place where, with all due respect, everything has improved so much,” he said. “Life improves, car safety improves, tracks improve and so on, and Monte Carlo is a bit of an old track.

    “It’s good for the show, everyone loves it and everything. But in terms of safety it’s not the best place. So from time to time it’s the very same place that we keep on having accidents, and if we don’t do anything, in so many years we will have another one.”

    With four drivers having crashed out over the course of the Monaco weekend after losing control on the bump at the end of the tunnel, there is a chance of further incidents in the race itself.

    Brawn believed that it would be up to the drivers to be especially careful at that area of the circuit – especially when tyres are not up to normal pressures.

    “I think the beginning of the race, or any time after the safety car, is always a moment when drivers will have to be cautious until the tyre pressures come up,” he said.

    “We all run the cars as competitively low as we can, and when you lose tyre pressures the car can bottom more. The drivers are very aware of that, they are very experienced about that and know you have to be cautious in those circumstances until they come back to normal.”


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