F1 Monaco Quali: Webber Keeps Red Bull on Pole, Kubica Second & Alonso Out in the Morning Practice

What Happens When Renault Stands Up

9:12am EST — Mark Webber continued the quick qualifying pace of the Red Bulls with pole for the Monaco Grand Prix, the only man to post a time in the 1:13s range for the weekend.  Robert Kubica will start second, with Sebastian Vettel third, Felipe Massa fourth, and Lewis Hamilton rounding out the top five.  Fernando Alonso, who had dominated the practice sessions all weekend suffered a crash in the morning practice and was unable to qualify.  Nico Rosberg will start just ahead of teammate Michael Schumacher, with the Mercedes in sixth and seventh, respectively.  Jenson Button will start eighth with some Massa traffic issues near the end of Q3.  There were no major incidents with traffic, though Vitaly Petrov scuppered his Q3 hopes with a crash in Q2.

The final Saturday practice session was dominated by Fernando Alonso’s early crash at Massenet, destroying the car enough that he missed qualifying entirely and will start the race from the pit lane with a new chassis.  The explanation from the official F1 website is entertaining in its understatement, in that the crash, “deposited the Ferrari in the outer wall to the serious detriment of its rear suspension.”  According to Ferrari, “The rules are very clear: you cannot use a second chassis on the same day, so once it was clear that the chassis was damaged, not even a miracle could have let Fernando racing today.”  Robert Kubica took over his position as the fastest man of the weekend, but Felipe Massa kept the Ferrari flag flying in the final practice before qualifying, setting the second fastest time.  Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, and Lewis Hamilton rounded out the fastest five.

Interestingly enough, a pre-session interview on SPEED with Lewis Hamilton, the former world champion sounded demonstrably high on adrenaline, either from nerves, excitement, or focus, as he spoke of the need to be calm.  Most everyone was out immediately when Q1 started, barring the cars of Williams, Force India, Sauber, and Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso.  Five minutes in, and Kubica led, with Hamilton, Webber, Rosberg, and Vettel the fastest five, though the more important knockout zone included Barrichello, Sutil, Liuzzi, Buemi, de la Rosa, and Kobayashi.  As seemed likely in quali for Monaco, Massa soon set the fastest lap, with Barrichello popping up to second for a surprising moment before being shifted back to fourth, with twelve of the longest and shortest qualifying minutes left, until Q2 began.  Times dropped so quickly that Webber was in the knockout zone at eleven minutes to go, but he recovered quickly to ninth.

Halfway through Q2, Massa led Vettel, Rosberg, Button, and Schumacher as the fastest five, and nearly half the field was in the garage, though cars soon streamed into the pits for the usual mid-session changes.  It was only the new teams in the knockout zone with six minutes left, as Massa continued to lead, but Webber second fastest, then Vettel, Rosberg, and Liuzzi as the top five.  As five minutes remained, the top nine remained in the garage, but the slowest fourteen were on track to get out of Q1.  Ninth, tenth, and eleventh Button, Schumacher, and Hamilton, respectively, were out with two  minutes to go, as the fastest five remained in the garage, presumably to keep the car safe in the easily-crashed circuit that Monaco tends to become.  The Renaults of Kubica and Vitaly Petrov were in a safe and positive sixth and eighth with less than a minute left, as only the new teams were in the knockout zone.  Kubica moved up to third fastest, but Massa (1:14.757) and Webber were still the fastest two, as Vettel was fourth, Rosberg fifth, Barrichello ninth, Button tenth, Schumacher eleventh, and Hamilton twelfth in a session unmarked by traffic-caused crashes, despite some sideways action and spins throughout the field.  As Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal, noted, “no disaster as qualifying despite what so many teams said. we were right in saying keep qualifying as normal. feel vindiacted [sic]. was exciting.”  Lotus has made some terrific strides in pace, as Kovalainen’s time was just over two seconds off Massa’s fastest time in Q1, as compared to the six or seven (or eight) they were off in testing and earlier races.

Knocked Out in Q1:
18. Kovalainen 1:17.094
19. Trulli 1:17.134
20. Glock 1:17.377
21. di Grassi 1:17.864
22. Senna 1:18.509
23. Chandhok 1:19.559
24. Alonso [did not qualify due to aforementioned Practice 3 crash]

There was a rush for pit out as Q2 began, with Kubica the first out.  His teammate Petrov was the first to set a time, 1:15.576, with Kubica soon taking it away from him.  Just under ten minutes left and Kubica had bettered his time to remain at the top, with Rosberg, Massa, and Schumacher joining him in lap times of 1:14s.  Vettel was sixteenth fastest, with Petrov, Hulkenberg, Barrichello, Alguersuari, and Kobayashi joining him in the knockout zone.  Rosberg, meanwhile, supplanted Kubica at the top, as the Pole was shifted back to fifth fastest while in the garage.  Webber was just behind Rosberg, with Vettel getting a good lap for third fastest, then Massa, Kubica, Schumacher, Hamilton, Barrichello, Sutil, and Button those who would move to Q3 at the halfway point of Q2.

With only five minutes left on the session clock, Webber, Vettel, Hamilton, Button, Buemi, and soon a host of other drivers were on the circuit.  At four minutes left only fastest Rosberg and Sutil were still in the garage.  There were no surprises in the knockout zone, though Button was tenth fastest and possibly in danger of elimination.  With over three minutes left, Petrov ended his session by clouting the tire wall with his rear end at the first turn and caused a local yellow that kept times from improving for a bit.  Just after, Button saw a promising lap held up by Massa.  At the end and with times still coming in, Liuzzi hauled himself into eighth, as Barrichello got to ninth, and Button stayed tenth.  Rosberg remained at the top (1:14.375), with Massa, Webber, Hamilton, and Kubica the top five.  The top seven (bookended by Mercedes teammates Rosberg and Schumacher) were all in the 1:14s range, with just over three tenths separating them.

Knocked Out in Q2:
11. Hulkenberg 1:15.317
12. Sutil 1:15.318
13. Buemi 1:15.413
14. Petrov [crash] 1:15.576
15. de la Rosa 1:15.692
16. Kobayashi 1:15.992
17. Alguersuari 1:16.176

Liuzzi was the first out at the beginning of Q3 and the fight for pole, as only he Barrichello, Kubica, and Hamilton were the only men on the circuit.  The rest remained in the garage, even with seven and half minutes left in the session.  Button joined in, htough no one had set a fast time yet.  Kubica was the first to do so (1:14.712), with Barrichello 1.3s adrift in his Williams.  Hamilton split the two as Barrichello returned to the garage and everyone else was out, though not yet setting times.  Kubica bettered his time (by .4s) for the best time so far of the weekend as drivers began setting times with three minutes to go.  Hamilton and Barrichello remained second and third, with Liuzzi fourth, Button, Webber, Rosberg, Massa, and Vettel the standings with two minutes to go.

Schumacher took third from his former teammate, but Vettel supplanted him just before Webber took pole position from Kubica.  It was Liuzzi into fifth, and Massa into third with under a minute left in the session and times dropping and cars flying.  Hamilton slotted into fourth with a mistake from Vettel into the chicane after the tunnel.  Webber remained on top with a shocking 1:13.826, Massa third and Hamilton fourth until Vettel got them after the flag.  Still, Kubica had a valiant effort to start second, with Hamilton fifth and Rosberg still out-qualifying teammate Schumacher (who moved up from tenth on his lap possible lap), with the Mercedes drivers to start sixth and seventh, respectively.

Final Positions at the End of Q3:
1. Webber 1:13.826
2. Kubica 1:14.120
3. Vettel 1:14.227
4. Massa 1:14.283
5. Hamilton 1:14.432
6. Rosberg 1:14.544
7. Schumacher 1:14.590
8. Button 1:14.637
9. Barrichello 1:14.901
10. Liuzzi 1:15.170


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