Motor racing: Ferraris take front row

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen emerges from the tunnel during yesterday's qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix. The taciturn Finn, whose reaction to his feat was predictably low-key, will share the front row with his team-mate Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen emerges from the tunnel during yesterday's qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix. The taciturn Finn, whose reaction to his feat was predictably low-key, will share the front row with his team-mate Sebastian Vettel, while Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes will start third on the grid, alongside Red Bull's Max Verstappen.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Raikkonen earns his first pole since 2008 as struggling Hamilton will start 13th on the grid

MONACO • Kimi Raikkonen secured his first pole position for nine years yesterday when he outpaced his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel in a dramatic qualifying session for today's Monaco Grand Prix.

The 37-year-old Finn, who had not taken pole for 128 races stretching back to the French Grand Prix in 2008, dominated the afternoon's action to clock a fastest lap of 1min 12.178 sec.

That left him 0.043 of a second ahead of the world championship leader and four-time champion Vettel, who was just two-thousandths of a second faster than third-placed Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes.

Bottas' team-mate Lewis Hamilton failed to progress from Q2 and missed the cut for the top-10 shoot-out, qualifying 14th after a miserable afternoon.

"Obviously, it's great," said Raikkonen afterwards, showing little emotion. "We'll try to make the best of it tomorrow... Yes, of course it is good, but here it is all about the fine details."

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen took fourth place ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Jenson Button, back from retirement to replace two-time champion Fernando Alonso, who is racing in the Indianapolis 500, was ninth for McLaren ahead of his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.

However, the Briton has a 15-place grid penalty for engine replacements and that is expected to lift Hamilton up to 13th.

"I don't know what was wrong there," said Vettel of Mercedes' problems. "But this is one of the highlights of the season - to race at Monaco. It is a difficult one to get right, but if you do, it is great."

Hamilton, who has been struggling to keep pace with his Ferrari rival since arriving in Monte Carlo and is six points behind in the title race, said: "I'd have struggled to be in the top five had I qualified for Q3. We need to get to the bottom of what is wrong with the car."

  • MONACO GP GRID

  • 1ST ROW 
    Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 
    Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 

    2ND ROW 
    Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 
    4 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 

    3RD ROW 
    5 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 
    6 Carlos Sainz Jr (Esp) Toro Rosso 

    4TH ROW 
    7 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 
    8 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas 

    5TH ROW 
    9 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Toro Rosso 
    10 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault

    SELECTED 
    13 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 
    14 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams
    20 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 

    REUTERS

On a perfect afternoon, with a temperature of 27 deg C, Hamilton endured two hairy moments when he almost collided with the barriers, first at Massenet and then at Mirabeau, before he claimed something was not right with his Mercedes car.

"No grip, Bono, Something wrong with the car," he complained to his engineer.

And the Briton's last-gasp attempt to make it into Q3 was derailed when Vandoorne lost control of his McLaren and crashed into the wall at the swimming pool chicane. Hamilton had to slow right down, and, with the allocated time over, he was left with no option but to pull into the pits.

"That's me out, right?" he said, deprived of a clean lap to take him into the next session.

Hamilton, shaking his head as he arrived in the Mercedes garage, will take some joy from the fact that Raikkonen rather than Vettel will start on pole.

But the Englishman will still have it all to do in today's race, with overtaking almost impossible at this most twisty and narrow of tracks.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 28, 2017, with the headline 'Ferraris take front row'. Print Edition | Subscribe