Monaco - Kimi Raikkonen secured his first pole position for nine
years on Saturday when he outpaced his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel in a
dramatic qualifying session for Sunday'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 two-thousandths of a
second faster than third placed Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes.
The Finn's Mercedes team-mate 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 (Sunday)... 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 Australian Daniel Ricciardo, Spaniard Carlos Sainz of Toro
Rosso, Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India and Frenhcman Romain Grosjean of
Briton Jenson Button, back from retirement to replace
two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso who is racing in the Indianapolis
500, was ninth for McLaren Honda ahead of his team-mate Belgian Stoffel
Button 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
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."
On a perfect azure afternoon, with an air temperature of 27
degrees and a track reading of 53, Q1 delivered few surprises other than the
early exit of Frenchman Esteban Ocon of Force India, who had crashed at Casino
Square in the closing minutes of the morning's final practice session.
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
In his haste, Hamilton weaved to heat his tyres and then had
a 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.
1. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari
2. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari
3. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes
4. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull - TAG Heuer
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull - TAG Heuer
6. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso - Renault
7. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India - Mercedes
8. Romain Grosjean (France) Haas - Ferrari
9. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso - Renault
10. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Renault
11. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) Haas - Ferrari
12. Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium) McLaren
13. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes
14. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes
15. Esteban Ocon (France) Force India - Mercedes
16. Jolyon Palmer (Britain) Renault
17. Lance Stroll (Canada) Williams-Mercedes
18. Pascal Wehrlein (Germany) Sauber - Ferrari
19. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber - Ferrari
20. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren