Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images
The dust from Saturday’s free practice session had long settled and the teams were geared up for the Qualifying session of the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix 2012. Thursday’s practice session did anything but paint a picture of the grid order for the qualifying session due to the changing weather conditions.
However, the weather for Saturday’s final practice session was dry, and the times showed that the Mercedes, Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari were all good for a pole and McLaren were struggling to find the balance in the car.
Michael Schumacher set the fastest time in the Qualifying session of the 2012 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, going across the line in 1:14.301 beating Webber’s 1:14.381 and his team mate Nico Rosberg’s 1:14.448. That however does not give Schumacher a pole position because of a 5-place Grid Penalty he incurred from the stewards at Spain for crashing into the back of the Williams of Bruno Senna. This would have been the 2nd pole of the season for the Mercedes F1 team. The penalty pushes Schumacher to 6th on the grid and Webber moves into pole position and Nico Rosberg alongside him in P2.
“It is simply a wonderful feeling to set pole after such a long time, and particularly here in Monaco. Okay, it has taken a little bit longer than I might have wanted in the second chapter of my career, but that makes it even sweeter. It’s just beautiful. We already thought that this circuit should suit us, and it’s the perfect confirmation of all the work from every team member in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart – a big thank you to every one of them, because this is a team result. Of course, it’s unfortunate that I won’t start from the very front but that’s how it is. I will do as well as I can. We know that overtaking is tough but with DRS and KERS, you might as well try it – and you can be sure I will.” said Michael Schumacher.
Lewis Hamilton will start from P3 and Romain Grosjean in P4. Fernando Alonso starts in P5 after failing to meet the expectations from him after the free practice times. Felipe Massa starts in P7 and Kimi Raikkonen in P8. Pastor Maldanado finished in P9, but he’ll move back 10 places on the Grid after the penalty that was given to him after his silly crash with Perez in Free Practice 3. Sebastian Vettel finished in 10th place after struggling with the setup of his car all through the session. Coming into the final qualifying session, he had no new sets of Option, the Red tyre walled Super-Soft Compound tyres left and so did a single run on the Prime Tyres, the yellow side walled Soft Compound tyres, which means he’ll be the only guy in the top 10 to start on the Prime tyres. This is also the first race in this season to feature the Super-Soft compound tyres.
Nico Hulkenberg of the Force India F1 team was 11th on the grid and behind him Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber C31. Jenson Button was struggling to find the correct balance in the car, and he was not at all happy with the way his car handled. The end result being the 13th position on the Grid. This is the 2nd time he has failed to make it into the 3rd Qualifying session. This means he has a brand new set of Option tyres at his disposal, but in a track like Monaco, grid position matters more. This is the 6th time he has been beaten by his team mate in a qualifying session in as many sessions. But Jenson has always been better on raceday, so he may still spring a surprise. The rest of the order on the grid are Senna, Paul di Resta, Ricciardo, Vergne, Kovalainen, Petrov, Glock, Pedro de la Rosa, Charles Pic, Karthikeyan and at the very back of the grid, Sergio Perez in the 2nd Sauber. The first qualifying session was not even 5 minutes old when Sergio Perez put his car in the barriers, as his car under-steered out of the turn 14. In the process he damaged his front wing, and brushed his left front and left rear tyres. The left rear tyre took a massive beating and was barely hanging on to the car. Perez tried to nurse the car back to the pits but the tyre went loose a few moments later. The new regulations for F1 do not allow a car to be driven without all the four tyres intact, so Perez pulled up on the side of the track and thus bringing out the red flag briefly so that his car could be retrieved safely.
“I am disappointed as I felt we could fight for a very good grid position here. We are still analysing everything to see if there was something wrong with the car. I was on my first lap, so was not pushing a lot. I went into the tunnel and had a lot of understeer and then I went into turns 13 and 14. Thirteen was quite fine but in 14 I just went straight and didn’t get the car to turn.” said Sergio Perez after the qualifying session.
The Grid Order after the penalties have been applied:
1. Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing-Renault.
2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes.
3. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes.
4. Romain Grosjean, Lotus-Renault.
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari.
6. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes.
7. Felipe Massa, Ferrari.
8. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus-Renault.
9. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing-Renault.
10. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes.