Monte Carlo, 27 May 2017: Kimi Räikkönen took his first pole position in nine years with super final lap in Monaco that saw him finish just four hundredths of a second ahead of championship leader Sebastian Vettel as Ferrari locked out the front row. Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was third but team-mate Lewis Hamilton was eliminated in Q2 in 14thplace.
Ferrari were quickest out of the blocks in Q1 with Raikkonen on track first, the Finn quickly followed by team-mate Vettel.
It was the German who set the early pace and though he was briefly usurped by the Red Bulls, with Ricciardo claiming P1 with a lap of 1:13.219, Vettel jumped back to the top with a time of 1:13.090.
Max Verstappen was running quickly, however and as the Ferrari driver retreated to the pits the Dutchman moved back into top spot, edging past Vettel by just over one hundredth of a second. With Verstappen ahead of the two Ferraris and Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo, fifth fastest in the session was Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas ahead of McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, the Belgian showing what his car is capable of when power deficits are negated. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, qualified for the second segment in P10.
However, eliminated at the end of the Q1 were Force India’s Esteban Ocon in P16 ahead of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, Williams’ Lance Stroll and the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson.
It was an unfortunate result for Ocon. The Frenchman crashed out in FP3, hitting the barriers at the Swimming Pool section, but his team managed to get him out in Q1. However, there was clearly something still amiss as team-mate Sergio Perez progressed in P8. Ericsson, meawhile, clipped a barrier late on and damaged his rear left suspension.
Monaco has the habit of throwing up grid anomalies and it delivered in style in Q2. As Ferrari again led the way with Räikkönen in charge ahead of Vettel and with Verstappen third ahead of Bottas, Hamilton was struggling.
Going into the final five minutes of the segment, the three-time champion was in 14th place and visibly struggling with the handling of his car. His first flying lap of his final run saw the Briton making corrections throughout and thus he could find no improvement.
Whether a jump up the order would come on the following lap, with Hamilton crossing the line with 50 seconds in hand before the flag, would not be revealed as just ahead, Vandoorne lost control going through the Swimming Pool section and dumped his McLaren into the wall.
The yellow flags were immediately shown and Hamilton’s lap was nullified. He was riuled out of the session in P14, just ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa and behind 11th- placed Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.
If the second session produced the unexpected, the final session delivered a massive surpise in the shape of Räikkönen finding more pace than any of his rivals. The Finn led the way after the first runs but in the final laps he clawed even more performance out of his Ferrari and lowered the benchmark to 1:12.178. Vettel tried to respond but could only get to a time of 1:12.221, thus handing the Finn his first pole since the French Grand Prix of 2008, 128 races previously.
Bottas finished just two thousandths of a second behind the championship leader, while the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo were fourth and fifth respectively. Behind them Sainz will line up sixth ahead of Perez, while Romain Grosjean took eighth place for Haas. On his return to grand prix racing, Jenson Button will line up ninth on the grid for McLaren ahead of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
2017 Monaco Grand Prix
1 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:13.117s 1:12.231s 1:12.178s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:13.090s 1:12.449s 1:12.221s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:13.325s 1:12.901s 1:12.223s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:13.078s 1:12.697s 1:12.496s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:13.219s 1:13.011s 1:12.998s
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:13.526s 1:13.397s 1:13.162s
7 Sergio Pérez Force India 1:13.530s 1:13.430s 1:13.329s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:13.786s 1:13.203s 1:13.349s
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1:13.723s 1:13.453s 1:13.613s
10 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:13.476s 1:13.249s
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:13.899s 1:13.516s
12 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 1:13.787s 1:13.628s
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:13.531s 1:13.959s
14 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.640s 1:14.106s
15 Felipe Massa Williams 1:13.796s 1:20.529s
16 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:14.101s
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:14.696s
18 Lance Stroll Williams 1:14.893s
19 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:15.159s
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:15.276s
eom/FIA press release