Saturday, 15 May 2010

Red Bull rule again as Mercedes mess up

Mark Webber produced a stunning lap to take Red Bull's 6th consecutive pole position of the season. The RB6's domination of qualifying hasn't been seen since Damon Hill, a steward this weekend, and Jaques Villeneuve in 1996 for Williams. Robert Kubica was P1 for most of Q3 after hustling his car for all its worth, running the barriers close to take a superb second ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Team mate Vitaly Petrov got too close, bashing the armco at Ste Devote and he will start 14th. Felipe Massa was 4th which was disappointing after hopes of making the front row. The Brazilian was also fortunate to escape punishment after blocking Jenson Button in Q3 though he claimed he was backed up as well. Fernando Alonso didn't even take part in the session after badly damaging his car in practice. He locked up at Massenet and hit the barrier at 90km/h. He will start from the pitlane tomorrow.

Lewis Hamilton seem content with 5th but Jenson Button struggled, scraping through Q2 and only managing 8th. The top ten will all start on the soft compound but Button seem to rue not going for the harder compound which would have allowed him to run a long first stint. Button seemed to be overruled by his engineer on this decision. Mercedes German duo split the McLarens but it was a case of an opprtunity missed for the Silver Arrows. Rosberg was fuming after the session, blaming traffic and mistakes for not repeating his Q2 performance when he went quickest. Schumacher meanwhile said that he was held up by 1 car which was Rosberg's! Ross Brawn admitted that the team had messed up and a lack of communication was to blame for Schumacher being blocked. Vitantonio Liuzzi produced a much needed strong showing, joining Rubens Barichello in the top ten.

The much vaunted traffic problems did not come to that much after all the talk about the potential issues. Alonso's crash (see below) lessened the possibility of someone becoming a major scalp though Heikki Kovalainen tryed his best, lapping strongly and becoming the first team mate to beat Jarno Trulli in Monaco qualifying. The Finn had 2 spins as well in pursuit of Q2 but avoided the barriers. The Virgin's and HRT'S are in 20th to 23rd but they will have the prancing horse of Alonso in their mirrors early on. Perhaps a chance to gain some TV coverage like Enrique Bernoldi did in the Arrows aginst David Coulthard in 2001.

The grid is an intriguing one and Kubica will hope he doesn't suffer the fate of Kimi Raikkonen in the last 2 seasons in dropping to third at the start. Can Button recover a poor qualifying session and use his capability of tyre conservation to move up the order? We also can look forward to seeing what Alonso can manage from last place. The tyres will be key with most drivers having put their tyres through 4 laps already. The super soft tyres grained badly inside the opening 10 laps last season. This years tyres are harder but coping with that, along with getting out in clear space will be vital to success. A safety car deployment could also throw a curveball in the mix. If we have one around the 10 lap mark, the top ten may pit and try and run to the end. Depending on the field spread, some of the midfield could get amongst the front runners and be able to run long into the race. Though it has to be mentioned that the marshalls have been superb this weekend and despite numerous incidents, there has been no stoppages in any of the sessions. It will be a long afternoon in Monte Carlo but hopefully an exciting one. The Monaco Grand Prix starts at 1pm BST. Follow me on Twitter for my thoughts during the race with my views later on the blog. Enjoy the race

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