RAIKKO­NEN LEADS FER­RARI FRONT ROW

Finn pips Vet­tel to se­cure first pole in nine years

New Straits Times - - Sport - MONACO GRAND PRIX:

MONACO

KIMI Raikko­nen se­cured his first pole po­si­tion for nine years on Satur­day when he out­paced his Fer­rari team­mate Se­bas­tian Vet­tel in a dra­matic qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion for to­day’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The 37-year-old Finn, who had not taken pole po­si­tion for 128 races stretch­ing back to the French Grand Prix of 2008, dom­i­nated the af­ter­noon’s ac­tion to clock a fastest lap of one minute and 12.178 sec­onds.

That left him 0.043 sec­onds ahead of the world cham­pi­onship leader and three-time cham­pion Vet­tel who in turn was just twot­hou­sandths of a sec­ond faster than third placed Valt­teri Bot­tas of Mercedes.

The Finn’s Mercedes team­mate Bri­ton Lewis Hamil­ton failed to make progress from Q2 and missed the cut for the top ten shootout, qual­i­fy­ing 14th af­ter a mis­er­able af­ter­noon.

“Ob­vi­ously, it’s great,” said a mum­bling and softly-spo­ken 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.”

“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.”

Bot­tas said: “It was a re­ally good lap for me. This is one of the most men­tally-de­mand­ing cir­cuits and I have felt sup­port from the fans and ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

The Q2 ses­sion be­gan with the two Finns Bot­tas and Raikko­nen on track swiftly fol­lowed by the ti­tle con­tenders Vet­tel and Hamil­ton, who sur­vived a big ‘mo­ment’ at the top of the hill en route to Casino Square.

It proved costly for Hamil­ton whose first fly­ing lap was more than a sec­ond adrift of Raikko­nen’s early fastest.

“No grip, Bono,” said Hamil­ton, talk­ing to his en­gi­neer be­fore he was stopped at the weigh­bridge on his way to Mercedes’ pits.

By then, Raikko­nen had clocked a 1:12.231 to leap half a sec­ond clear of Ver­stap­pen at the front un­til Vet­tel slot­ted into sec­ond on his sec­ond run.

In his haste, Hamil­ton weaved to heat his tyres and then had a

1 Kimi Raikko­nen (Fin) Fer­rari 1:12.178, 2 Se­bas­tian Vet­tel (Ger) Fer­rari 1:12.221, 3 Valt­teri Bot­tas (Fin) Mercedes 1:12.223, 4 Max Ver­stap­pen (Ned) Red Bull 1:12.496, 5 Daniel Ric­cia­rdo (Aus) Red Bull 1:12.998, 6 Car­los Sainz Jr (Spa) Toro Rosso 1:13.162, 7 Ser­gio Perez (Mex) Force In­dia 1:13.329, 8 Ro­main Gros­jean (Fra) Haas 1:13.349, 9 Jen­son But­ton (Bri) McLaren 1:13.613, 10 Stof­fel Van­doorne (Bel) McLaren (no time), 11 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Toro Rosso 1:13.516, 12 Nico Huelken­berg (Ger) Re­nault 1:13.628, 13 Kevin Mag­nussen (Den) Haas 1:13.959, 14 Lewis Hamil­ton (Bri) Mercedes 1:14.106, 15 Felipe Massa (Bra) Wil­liams 1:20.529, 16 Este­ban Ocon (Fra) Force In­dia 1:14.101, 17 Jolyon Palmer (Bri) Re­nault 1:14.696, 18 Lance Stroll (Can) Wil­liams 1:14.893, 19 Pas­cal Wehrlein (Ger) Sauber 1:15.159, 20 Mar­cus Eric­s­son (Swe) Sauber 1:15.276.

ma­jor slide at the exit of Casino Square be­fore he locked up at Mirabeau.

“Some­thing wrong with the car,” he re­ported.

With just sec­onds re­main­ing, Hamil­ton’s hopes were ru­ined when Bel­gian Stof­fel Van­doorne went into the bar­ri­ers at the Swim­ming Pool exit, yellow flags fly­ing.

“That’s me out, right?” said Hamil­ton, de­prived of a clean lap and con­demned to qual­ify 14th, one of five men elim­i­nated along with Rus­sian Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso, Ger­man Nico Hulken­berg of Re­nault, Dane Kevin Mag­nussen of Haas and Brazil­ian Felipe Massa of Wil­liams.

“Yes, toasted,” came the re­ply for Hamil­ton as he pulled in to the pits, his chest heav­ing and hands wav­ing with frus­tra­tion. AFP

AP PIC

Fer­rari’s Kimi Raikko­nen had not taken pole po­si­tion for 128 races stretch­ing back to the French Grand Prix of 2008.

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