The Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo has taken the most sort after pole position on the calendar, after claiming his second career pole for the Monaco Grand Prix.
Riccardo has looked to be in a league of his own all weekend. Barely putting a foot wrong as he topped all three practice sessions, going into the most important qualifying session of the season. His domination of the weekend didn’t stop there as he finished fastest in all three qualifying sessions.
The lap by Ricciardo, a new track record of 1:10.810, was enough to outpace the winner of the Monaco Grand Prix last year, Sebastian Vettel by two tenths of a second. The Ferrari driver had to settle for second in the end, as Ferrari and Mercedes had no answer to the pace of the Red Bull.
The pole is the second of Riccardo’s career, and his second round the principality. Despite this Ricciardo underplayed his achievement and said he was focused on the job in hand for Sunday when interviewed post race.
“There is still a lot of fire in this belly,” insisted Ricciardo. “I’ve done everything I can so far, let’s finish the job tomorrow. I’m pumped.”
It was however a bittersweet qualifying session for the Red Bull team. As Ricciardo will start on pole position tomorrow his team mate Max Verstappen will start from the least desired grid position of 20th and last place following a gearbox issue.
Verstappen crashed during Free Practice Three into the swimming pool chicane, and from there it was a battle for the team to get the car ready for qualifying. The team realised with half an hour to go that the gearbox needed changing. Meaning they failed to get him out for Q1.
It was his fifth Monaco crash in just four entries.
The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton had to settle for third as he struggled for balance in an under-performing Mercedes, finishing almost half a second off Ricciardo. It really is a case of damage limitation for Monaco, with Valtteri Bottas only qualifying fifth in the sister Mercedes. A whole six tenths of a second off of the pace. The Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who was on pole position here last year, splits the two Mercedes in fourth.
“It was a really good session, I gave it everything that I could. But even with a perfect lap we couldn’t catch Daniel today; Red Bull just had a little bit more performance, particularly in the last sector.” Hamilton said in a press release after the session. “I was up in the first sector, but I just couldn’t hold onto it. I’m glad that we’re up there.”
Force India impressed as best of the rest with Esteban Ocon in sixth place, on a track they were not expected to do well at due to the chassis-dependent nature of the track. His team mate Sergio Perez finished ninth, with a tenth of a second separating him from his team mate as the battle for the midfied really hots up.
They were joined by the McLaren of Fernando Alonso in seventh and the Renault of Carols Sainz in eighth. While Pierre Gasly made it into the top ten again for the second time this season.
Outside of the top ten there were impressive performances for Sergey Sirotkin in the Williams, who will start the race tomorrow from 13th alongside hometown hero Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque driver impressed with another Q2 outing for Sauber, putting his car 14th for the race.
Romain Grosjean was the highest placed Haas in 15th but takes a three place grid penalty for his first lap incident in Spain. Promoting the Toro Rosso of Brendon Heartly, the Sauber of Marcus Ericcson, and the Williams of Lance Stroll.
Monaco GP Qualifying Timesheet
1) Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull: 1:10.810
2) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari: + 0.229
3) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes: + 0.422
4) Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: + 0.456
5) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes: + 0.631
6) Esteban Ocon, Force India: + 1.251
7) Fernando Alonso, McLaren: + 1.300
8) Carlos Sainz, Renault: + 1.320
9) Sergio Perez, Force India: + 1.344
10) Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso: + 1.411
Out in Q2
11) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault: 1:12.411
12) Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren: 1:12.440
13) Sergey Sirotkin, Williams: 1:12.521
14) Charles Leclerc, Sauber: 1:12.714
15) Romain Grosjean, Haas: 1:12.728
Out in Q1
16) Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso: 1:13.179
17) Marcus Ericsson, Sauber: 1:13.265
18) Lance Stroll, Williams: 1:13.323
19) Kevin Magnussen, Haas: 1:13.393
20) Max Verstappen, Red Bull: No time set