Monaco is the jewel of the crown in the Formula 1 calendar, but there was organized chaos galore both on the track and in the pit lane, as the business end of the 6th round of the F1 2013 season got underway under wet conditions, with the drivers trying to get themselves down to the perfect starting position for race day.
Three drivers were anxiously awaiting repairs to be hastily and perfectly carried out, as crashes involving Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, Sahara Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Scuderia Ferrari’s Felipe Massa during FP3 caused absolute bedlam for the mechanics pushing hard to get the cars back on track.
Q1 saw all the drivers going onto intermediate tyres, as the drizzle and rain hit the principality, with Williams’ Pastor Maldonado, a Monaco specialist, top the time sheets for the session as the track was showing good pace from both the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who were yet again showing the form of the W04 in qualifying. Jules Bianchi was the first casualty, as his Marussia failed due to a suspected engine problem and subsequent fire at the top part of the hill.
Sutil was also one in the mix and finished P8 after getting into Q3, with his repaired VJM05 showing a good turn of pace. However, his Scottish team-mate, Paul di Resta not having the best of times at his home town, being one of the big names being eliminated, along with Massa, whose F138 was not even able to make it out of the pit lane. Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde was a real revelation on track, as he made it into Q2 for the Leafield squad for the last time since Heikki Kovalainen, eventually qualifying P15 in Q2, as being at P10 with several minutes left. Grosjean paid back his team with good faith, as he made it into Q2 with his first lap out on track and promptly went fastest in Q1, before being relegated in the next session.
Q2 also saw more rainfall hit the track, as the drivers set out on intermediates yet again, with van der Garde going out on slick super soft Pirelli tyres, but the scrambling to set a banker lap was continuous for all, with Sauber finding Nico Hulkenberg being eliminated as the chequered flag fell, with times tumbling fast.
But Mercedes AMG Petronas again showed their utter true one-lap pace with Q3 leaving nothing to chance as all 10 drivers went out on the super soft tyres, as times were really being lowered towards the true pace of what the optimum lap time in qualifying would be under the current regulations.
Nico Rosberg secured his third successive pole position in Formula 1, a feat his father Keke had never been able to achieve in his tenure in the sport, with follow Monaco home owner Lewis Hamilton helping to lock out the front row for Brackley’s flying machines, as the charging Infiniti Red Bull Racing duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber had no real answer for the pace that was laid down.
Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were down in the bottom part of the top ten, ahead of sole Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, who made it for the first time into Q3, with the “Frome Flyer” finding issues with power in the latter part of the session, but he still made it in P9, with his Mexican team-mate in P7. Fernando Alonso could not switch his tyres on to gain the best possible result, ending up in P6, behind Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen, who decided to not pursue his final flying lap.
So we now head to race day, where position is key in securing the win, where the glitz and glamour and Mediterranean sunshine will watch on in earnest, as the roar of Formula One rings around the streets of the street track in the principality, where precision is the real key to success…
(Images courtesy of Octane Photographic)