Date:Saturday May 25 2013
Nico Rosberg has continued to shine for Mercedes after securing his third consecutive pole position for the German marque, after a damp qualifying hour around Monacoís Monte-Carlo street circuit. The German will start the race alongside team-mate Lewis Hamilton, with the Red Bull duo starting on the second row.
After three practice sessions run in glorious sunshine around the Monte-Carlo street circuit, many were surprised when the all-important qualifying hour began in wet weather conditions. This forced the entire field to rush out onto the street circuit sporting the intermediate tyre, in treacherous and unknown weather conditions. The Caterham duo led out the entire field, as Jules Bianchiís session was brought to an immediate and premature conclusion when a mechanical issue struck his Marussia.
The Caterham duo of Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde naturally set the initial pace at the top, however the benchmark unsurprisingly plummeted as many drivers all improved in the tricky weather conditions. Lewis Hamilton and then Jenson Button rose to the top, before Mark Webber, Paul di Resta, Fernando Alonso and Jean-Eric Vergne both continued to lower the benchmark. Lewis Hamilton then returned to the top for Mercedes with a 01:32.920, before reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel asserted his authority over proceedings with a 01:31.431.
As the conditions began to gradually improve, so did the times as Monaco expert Pastor Maldonado rose to the top for Williams with a 01:30.126. Lewis Hamilton, Paul di Resta and then Mark Webber both momentarily returned to the top, before Sebastian Vettel continued to keep Red Bull at the top with 01:25.352. As the opening segment of qualifying drew to a close, Nico Rosberg and then Lewis Hamilton traded fastest times at the top, before Jenson Button rose McLaren to the front.
After his incident at the end of the final practice session earlier in the day, Romain Grosjean only just managed to take to the track as the session drew to a close. With only a handful of laps for the Frenchman to set a time, he stormed around the Monte-Carlo street circuit to produce a mesmerizing 01:23.738 to go fastest.
In the final minutes, Pastor Maldonado returned to the top for Williams with a 01:23.452, as the Caterham of Giedo van der Garde managed to progress through to Q2 for the first time in his career. As Q1 drew to a close, Paul Di Resta, Charles Pic, Esteban Gutierrez, Max Chilton, Jules Bianchi and Felipe Massa were eventually eliminated with the latter unable to partake in the session after his earlier incident in practice.
The rain continued to lightly fall over the Monte-Carlo street circuit as Q2 got underway, with Jean-Eric Vergne and Nico Rosberg becoming the first two drivers to take to the track. Once again the benchmark was instantly lowered as the first timed laps were completed, with Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and then Mark Webber rising to the top. With the track conditions still perilous in the damp conditions, Jenson Button, Sergio Perez, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean all momentarily rose to the top in a frenetic session.
Kimi Raikkonen and then Jenson Button set the pace once again at the front, before Nico Rosberg produced a 01:22.119. With the conditions continuing to improve, Giedo van der Garde became the first driver to opt for he super-soft tyres, which then led to the entire field joining the Dutchman on slick tyres. This naturally saw the times continue to plummet, as the first dry lap times of the session were completed. Mark Webber instantly rose to the top for Red Bull, before Sebastian Vettel silenced the opposition with a 01:15.988.
After a frenetic end to the second segment of qualifying, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean, Valtteri Bottas, Giedo van der Garde and Pastor Maldonado were all eliminated from proceedings. This left a mouth-watering spectacle for the top ten shootout, with the usual suspects joined by the likes of Jean-Eric Vergne who managed to rise to the top ten shootout for the first time in his career.
In drying weather conditions, Kimi Raikkonen became the first driver to take to the track on the super-soft tyre compound. The Finn naturally set the first timed lap of the segment, however Lewis Hamilton and then Mark Webber quickly disposed of the Finn with the latter setting a 01:15.134. The trend of the times tumbling continued as the session progressed, with no-one certain as to who would eventually secure the pivotal pole position. Sebastian Vettel set a superb time late in the session with a 01:14.333, however the Mercedes duo simply obliterated the remainder of the field with Nico Rosberg leading Lewis Hamilton after producing a 01:13.876.
The Mercedes ace has now secured pole position for the third consecutive race weekend, and will be striving to convert such a positive result into a race victory tomorrow. The Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will line-up on row two behind the Silver Arrows, in what will surely be a fascinating 78-lap race. Last year the Silver Arrows would have started from pole with Michael Schumacher, however a penalty from the previous race denied such a luxury. The German marque will be out to redeem themselves this weekend, with a 1-2 finish in their sights.
Author: Andy Young
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Date:Saturday May 25 2013
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