Kimi Raikkonen claimed his first Formula 1 pole position since 2008 in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix for Scuderia Ferrari.
This has been a long time coming for The Iceman. Formula 1 has gone through so many sport regulations such as groove tyres, KERS, DRS and now hybrid power units. Raikkonen has been in this game for a while so it’s refreshing to see Kimi back on top.
Raikkonen’s Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel had set the pace in practice (in FP2 and FP3), but Raikkonen moved ahead in Q2 and stayed there, eventually claiming the top spot by just 0.043 seconds as Vettel just fell short in Q3.
Valtteri Bottas was third in the best of the Mercedes, just 0.002 seconds behind Vettel, while team-mate Hamilton was forced to watch from the sidelines.
Lewis Hamilton struggled for speed throughout Q1 and Q2, and almost crashed twice after losing the rear end of his Mercedes at Massenet and Casino Square.
The triple world champion was down in P14 in Q2, as Ferrari set the pace, but looked on a lap good enough to make Q3 before Stoffel Vandoorne crashed his McLaren-Honda at the Swimming Pool.
That forced Hamilton to abandon his lap and means he will have a challenging Monte Carlo race in the midfield.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth in Hamilton’s absence, a big advantage over team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
A late improvement from Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz in Q3 lifted him to a season’s best sixth, ahead of Sergio Perez’s Force India and Romain Grosjean’s Haas.
Jenson Button qualified ninth on his return to Formula 1 in place of Fernando Alonso, but Button’s McLaren-Honda will drop to the back of the grid thanks to a 15-place penalty for engine component changes ahead of final practice.
Button’s team-mate Vandoorne rounded out the top ten, though he failed to participate in Q3 after that Q2 crash.
He will drop three places on account of a penalty for clashing with Felipe Massa at the previous race in Spain.
Vandoorne’s shunt also prevented the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat from improving at the end of Q2, so one of the stars of Thursday practice wound up only P11 in qualifying.
Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault was P12, ahead of Kevin Magnussen’s Haas (which wasn’t affected by the yellow flags), Hamilton and the Williams of Massa, who also hadn’t set a representative time before having to abort his final flying lap thanks to the Vandoorne incident.
A last gasp effort from Grosjean knocked Esteban Ocon out in Q1.
Grosjean spun at Mirabeau in the early stages of that session, but ultimately did enough to progress.
Force India repaired Ocon’s car following a final practice crash in time to complete the final ten minutes of Q1, and Ocon looked safely through to Q2 until Grosjean’s late show.
Ocon missed the cut by 0.202 seconds but was well clear of the second Renault of Jolyon Palmer, who complained of too much understeer as he struggled to P17.
Lance Stroll’s Williams was almost two tenths slower in P18, the Canadian having to cut short his run thanks to a hydraulic leak.
He ended up ahead of only Sauber pairing Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson, who clouted the barrier at the Nouvelle chicane on his final Q1 lap and had to pull off into the escape road with a broken left-rear wheel.
So a fantastic result for Scuderia Ferrari. An all red front row with the sport’s most popular driver in pole position. Overtaking in Monaco Grand Prix is very difficult and Kimi Raikkonen has a good chance of scoring that long overdue victory.
Qualifying results, Monaco Grand Prix:
1 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m12.178s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m12.221s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m12.223s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m12.496s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m12.998s
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Renault 1m13.162s
7 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m13.329s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m13.349s
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m13.516s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m13.628s
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m13.959s
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda No time*
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m14.106s
14 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m20.529s
15 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m14.101s
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m14.696s
17 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m14.893s
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber-Ferrari 1m15.159s
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m15.276s
20 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1m13.613s*
*Grid penalties for the McLaren drivers. Stoffel for crashing into Massa at Spanish Grand Prix. Button with a change to power unit.