Saturday, 28 May 2011

Monaco Qualifying

Today saw the quali session for Monaco - one of the most exciting circuits on the calendar. The practice sessions showed several accidents - Nico Rosberg and Vitantonio Liuzzi today, Michael Schumacher yesterday to name a few. So, qualifying was always going to be a tense affair, what with the drivers pushing as hard as they could to get the pole and the circuit leaving no room should the drivers push it that little too far.

Neither of the Hispania cars took part in qualifying - Liuzzi because of his crash in FP3 and Karthikeyan because of an apparent wishbone failure on the car. The Hispanias will however be allowed to race tomorrow as their free practice times were all within the 107% time, Karthikeyan starting 23rd and Liuzzi 24th. Both Team Lotus cars (now officially known as Team Lotus following that court ruling) out-qualified Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso who suffered front wing damage after a collision with Kamui Kobayashi (an incident which is under investigation). Kovalainen starts 18th, Truilli 19th and Alguersuari 20th. The two Virgin cars completed the seven eliminated from the second quali session, with Glock starting 21st and d'Ambrosio starting 22nd.

Quali two was a rather usual affair, with no real surprises being eliminated. Both Lotus Renaults were eliminated in Q2. Vitaly Petrov will start 11th and Nick Heidfeld will start 16th. The Williams of Rubens Barrichello starts from 12th and has been out-qualified by team mate Maldonado who starts from 9th. Kobayashi currently starts from 13th, despite Sergio Perez managing to get into Q3. Both Force India cars were eliminated in this session too, with di Resta starting 14th, out-qualifying Sutil who starts next down in 15th. Sebastian Buemi completed these 7, starting in 17th.

Qualifying 3 was perhaps the most dramatic of the year. Lewis Hamilton left his run until later on in the session - something which he would later regret. Button and Alonso were setting the early pace, however Sebastian Vettel once again pulled a magnificent lap out of the bag to eventually grab pole position. Sergio Perez did a fantastic job for Sauber getting into Q3, however he had a massive crash on coming out of the tunnel - in the same place as Nico Rosberg's earlier crash. In contrast to Rosberg's crash, Perez wasn't as lucky and crashed heavily into the tepco barriers. There were several tense minutes as Perez did not emerge from the car and was apparently motionless. The medical teams and marshalls attended the scene and raised barriers to prevent the cameras from seeing the scene. Luckily, Perez was extracted and taken to hospital. He was conscious and responding to the medical team, however remains in hospital overnight with concussion. His accident occurred so late in the session as to ruin Hamilton's one run. Cold tyres after sitting in the garage meant that he was unable to top Vettel's time and eventually came 7th in the standings. However, it later emerged that Lewis cut the chicane and was subsequently demoted to 9th (due to Perez being unlikely to race tomorrow).

So, the top nine are Vettel, Button, Webber, Alonso, Schumacher, Massa, Rosberg, Maldonado and Hamilton. Hopefully the race will be just as exciting as the qualifying was!