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Qualifying analysis - all goes to plan for Mercedes 25 May 2013

Pole sitter Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 25 May 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 25 May 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 25 May 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 25 May 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 25 May 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 25 May 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 25 May 2013 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 25 May 2013 A cameraman films Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 25 May 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 25 May 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 25 May 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 25 May 2013

Drizzle at lunchtime on Saturday which left the Monaco track damp helped to make Q1 and Q2 two of the most dramatic qualifying sessions of the year, the first requiring Pirelli’s intermediate tyres throughout, the latter drying sufficiently to facilitate a switch to supersofts five minutes before the end. The result in both was some machine-gun fire lap times that registered, and were then beaten, faster than they could be written down. And some drivers were horribly unlucky. Dry road for the final Q3 session then set the scene for a tense scrap between Mercedes and Red Bull. The former again won out, with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton locking out the all-important Monte Carlo front row. Their race pace may have fallen apart at recent rounds, but surely if the Silver Arrows are to win a Grand Prix in 2013 their best chance is here…

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 13.876s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 13.967s, P2

Yet again Mercedes locked out the front row, and yet again it was Rosberg in front. The German said that everything went to plan, but acknowledged that the weather conditions certainly didn’t make life easy. Hamilton was gratified to qualify so strongly, after describing his practice sessions as a ‘disaster’ as he was unable to get heat into the front tyres and get the best from the W04. Both are concerned about tyre degradation in the race, but don’t expect it to be anything like as debilitating as it was in Spain.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 13.980s, P3
Mark Webber, 1m 14.181s P4

Red Bull just ever so slightly lacked pace over single laps compared to Mercedes, but if they can get ahead of the silver cars they have every chance of taking their fourth consecutive win in Monaco. Vettel said he wasn’t happy with his Q3 performance and that in hindsight instead of trying to get it all done with one lap first time out in Q3, two would have been better. Webber, however, was pretty happy. After struggling a little over the weekend, the team had things sorted when it mattered.

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 14.822s, P5
Romain Grosjean, 1m 18.603s, P13

Raikkonen said that he thought fifth was the best the E21 could do here, and that he was happy with that but had no idea quite what to expect from anyone in the race. Grosjean blotted his homework again in FP3 with another shunt at Ste Devote, but the Lotus mechanics worked wonders to get him out right at the end of Q1. He paid them back by going momentarily to the top of the timesheets, an excellent effort under so much pressure. Unfortunately, he encountered Ricciardo on his subsequent lap, and failed to advance to Q3.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 14.824s, P6
Felipe Massa, No time, P22

Alonso conceded after a reasonable qualifying that he was unlikely to repeat his Spanish performance from the third row of the grid, and thus aims to maximise his points gathering tomorrow. Speaking of his accident in FP3, which kept him out of qualifying altogether and condemned him to starting 22nd, Massa said he actually braked earlier than usual, which had the effect of locking both front wheels when the car went over a particularly bad bump. He needed a gearbox change and hence incurred a five-place grid penalty, but when the car couldn’t be fixed in time that became irrelevant.

McLaren
Sergio Perez, 1m 15.138s, P7
Jenson Button, 1m 15.647s, P9

McLaren have showed much improved performance this weekend, but a very unhappy Button said he felt fifth rather than ninth place was possible. Unfortunately, he encountered a fuel pump problem on his first run in Q3, and it recurred, together with a loss of top gear, on his second. Perez said he was disappointed with seventh, after getting everything out of the sister car.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 15.383s, P8
Paul di Resta, 1m 26.322s, P17

Sutil was delighted to make Q3 and take eighth on the grid, especially after a spin at Mirabeau in Q1. Di Resta was again in brilliant form and was fastest more than once in that session, but lost out horribly when the team misread things at the end. His intermediates were finished, and by the time they brought him in for a fresh set it was too late. He deserved far better, having outshone Sutil yet again.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 15.703s, P10
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 18.344s, P12

Vergne was in great form for Toro Rosso all through qualifying, but said he would have been happier had it rained all the way through. He abandoned his final effort in the first Q3 of his season, when he saw that he couldn’t improve. Ricciardo said his car wasn’t fast enough on the intermediates, and that he could have done better on the supersofts.

Sauber
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 18.331s, P11
Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 26.917s, P19

Hulkenberg was disappointed not to make Q3, but thought that Sauber timed the switch to supersofts too late in Q2 so that he only got one lap on them. Gutierrez said that he just didn’t get the best on intermediates in Q1, having looked pretty competitive in FP3.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 19.077s, P14
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 21.688s, P16

Maldonado was in tremendous form to go fastest in Q1, and with Bottas ninth things looked promising, but it all fell apart thereafter, leaving the duo only 16th and 14th respectively.

Caterham
Giedo van der Garde, 1m 19.408s, P15
Charles Pic, 1m 26.633s, P18

Van der Garde was in terrific form to get Caterham through into Q2 for the first time this year, and at one stage was third fastest after the team smartly made the first switch from intermediates to supersofts on his advice. Fifteenth overall was a great fillip for the team, especially as overtaking is so hard in the race. Pic was troubled by understeer in FP3, but was otherwise happy with the way things went in qualifying apart from failing to join his team mate in Q2. A really solid performance in the race could move the team ahead of Williams.

Marussia
Max Chilton, 1m 27.303s, P20
Jules Bianchi, No time, P21

Marussia received a nasty blow when Bianchi’s MR02 stopped going up the hill to Massenet on his out-lap at the start of Q1. It transpired the problem was a fire in the engine tray. Chilton said he thought he got the best out of his intermediate tyres too early in Q1, so they were past their peak as the track got drier.

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