Monday 20 November 2017

Nico Rosberg denies Lewis Hamilton his maiden pole at Monaco

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg

Ian Parkes

Nico Rosberg wrecked Lewis Hamilton's dream of clinching his maiden pole position in Monaco as the German edged out his Mercedes team-mate in another enthralling qualifying session.

Leading Hamilton by just 0.059secs after the opening hot lap in the final part of the session, Rosberg locked up on his final attempt at Mirabeau and was forced to take to the escape road.

That appeared to open the door for Hamilton, but with yellow flags being waved for Rosberg's incident, it meant the Briton was forced to abort his final flying lap.

It is the sixth pole of Rosberg's career, and his second in a row at Monaco after pipping Hamilton to top spot on the grid last year.

While Rosberg was naturally delighted, punching the air as he stepped from the cockpit of his car, Hamilton had a face like thunder.

It adds more tension in the intra-team battle that is unfolding between the pair this season, with just three points separating them in the championship standings.

Explaining the incident from his perspective, Rosberg said: "No, it wasn't an ideal way to end qualifying.

"I thought it was over, that the track would ramp up and someone else could beat my time.

"I'm happy it worked out. Pole at home is obviously fantastic. It couldn't be better."

As for the fact Hamilton was behind and was two tenths of a second quicker before having to back off, Rosberg added: "Of course I'm sorry for Lewis. I didn't know where he was. It's not great."

Hamilton, in response, was terse as he said: "I don't have an answer to that."

Rosberg now has the perfect opportunity to clinch back-to-back wins around the streets of the principality, as well as end Hamilton's run of four straight victories at present.

Behind the duo will be the Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo and four-times champion Sebastian Vettel, finishing three tenths of a second and half-a-second down respectively on Rosberg.

Then come the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen in fifth and sixth, with the latter an astonishing 1.4secs off the pace.

Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne starts seventh ahead of a marvellous effort from rookies Kevin Magnussen for McLaren and Daniil Kvyat in his Toro Rosso, with Force India's Sergio Perez 10th.

The stewards, though, face a busy post-qualifying period as there are three investigations to be considered, with all the incidents taking place in the initial 18-minute session.

Two of those concern a case of impeding, with Perez and Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez involved in one case, with the other involving Kvyat and Pastor Maldonado in his Lotus.

The final incident came towards the end, with Williams' Felipe Massa opening the door through Mirabeau for Marcus Ericsson in his Caterham to drive through.

The clumsy Swede, however, had too much power, running into the side of Massa and sending both into the barrier.

With Ericsson already at the back of the grid in 22nd, the stewards need to look at an alternative penalty as a loss of grid places will be meaningless.

As for Massa, although his time was good enough to get him into Q2, the Brazilian was unable to take part due to damage to his car and will unfortunately start 16th.

Ahead of him will be Force India's Nico Hulkenberg in 11th, followed by Jenson Button, comfortably out-qualified by team-mate Magnussen.

Williams' Valtteri Bottas and Romain Grosjean in his Lotus line up 13th and 14th, with the latter followed by team-mate Maldonado and then Massa.

The Sauber duo of Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil are on row nine in 17th and 18th, followed by Marussia pair Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton, with Caterham team-mates Kamui Kobayashi and Ericsson at the rear.

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