Brilliant Ricciardo claims Monaco pole with unbeatable record pace

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB14 gets pole position for Monaco Grand Prix
© XPB 

Daniel Ricciardo successfully claimed pole position for the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix with a new track record time of 1:10.810s.

The Red Bull was pushed hard by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who will start alongside the Australian on the front row of the grid. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton will line up alongside the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen on the second row.

Amid the pole celebrations, there was bad news for Red Bull after the team was unable to repair Max Verstappen's car in time to take take part in qualifying, meaning he'll be starting tomorrow's race from the back.

Monaco Grand Prix - Qualifying

1Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1:12.013s1:11.278s1:10.810s
2Sebastian VettelFerrari1:12.415s1:11.518s1:11.039s
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:12.460s1:11.584s1:11.232s
4Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:12.639s1:11.391s1:11.266s
5Valtteri BottasMercedes1:12.434s1:12.002s1:11.441s
6Esteban OconForce India1:13.028s1:12.188s1:12.061s
7Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1:12.657s1:12.269s1:12.110s
8Carlos SainzRenault1:12.950s1:12.286s1:12.130s
9Sergio PérezForce India1:12.848s1:12.194s1:12.154s
10Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1:12.941s1:12.313s1:12.221s
11Nico HülkenbergRenault1:13.065s1:12.411s
12Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1:12.463s1:12.440s
13Sergey SirotkinWilliams1:12.706s1:12.521s
14Charles LeclercSauber1:12.829s1:12.714s
15Romain GrosjeanHaas1:12.930s1:12.728s
16Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1:13.179s
17Marcus EricssonSauber1:13.265s
18Lance StrollWilliams1:13.323s
19Kevin MagnussenHaas1:13.393s
20Max VerstappenRed Bull

Q1: Ricciardo fastest as Verstappen sidelined

Drivers were greeted by a typically fine May afternoon in the Mediterranean as they streamed out onto the iconic Monaco street track for qualifying. Most teams were quick to send their cars out, with the exception of Red Bull where mechanics were still feverishly working on repairing Max Verstappen's RB14 after his FP3 accident.

Sebastian Vettel was straight onto hypersofts and went top of the timesheets with a 1:13.165s, the Ferrari a tenth ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez. Lewis Hamilton's first effort was only good enough for third ahead of Williams' Sergey Sirotkin.

Ricciardo demonstrated Red Bull's continuing dominance by going top with 1:12.769s but this was soon bettered by second fliers from Sirotkin and McLaren's Fernando Alonso. Kimi Raikkonen then went quickest despite running up against a slow Valtteri Bottas in the tunnel, but the Ferrari was quickly usurped by Ricciardo's latest run of 1:12.013s.

Vettel and Hamilton ensured their passage through to Q2 by going second and third, albeit four tenths off the pace of Ricciardo. By contrast the second Mercedes was at risk of elimination, Bottas struggling to find room to put in a proper time. When he finally did, he leapt to safety with a time good enough for third, to move just ahead of Hamilton.

Late in the session, Sauber's Charles Leclerc took to the run-off at Sainte Devote which triggered local yellows that compromised the final runs of a number of drivers. It left Brendon Hartley on the wrong side of the cut-off line, a surprise after Toro Rosso's top ten showing in final practice. He complained that one of the Force Indias had come close to putting him into the wall.

Other drivers eliminated included Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and Williams' Lance Stroll, the latter having had problems with a loose head-rest early in the session. Kevin Magnussen was the slowest driver of Q1 in the Haas. Also out of qualifying - without having turned a wheel - was Verstappen, after Red Bull found more damage to his gearbox than initially expected. He'll have to start Sunday's race from the back row of the grid as a result.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF71H. 26.05.2018

Q2: Ricciardo stays top, but Ferrari closes in

Force India's Esteban Ocon set the early benchmark at the start of Q2, but Perez, Alonso and then Vettel went progressively quicker. Then Ricciardo moved into action and took his now-customary spot at the top with a time of 1:11.353s, another new track record for the Australian.

Raikkonen initially wasn't happy with his Ferrari's front grip, but his lap was still good enough for third fastest. He was subsequently able to improve this further to bring him to within nearly a tenth of Ricciardo, setting up a tasty showdown for Q3.

Mercedes initially attempted to run the second round on ultrasofts to gain a strategic advantage in the first stint of tomorrow's race. However the gambit failed, Hamilton ending up only tenth fastest and over a second off Ricciardo's time; Bottas was even further back in 14th. The pair were forced to pit for pink hypers to ensure their progression to the final pole shoot-out round.

Once the Silver Arrows moved out of the elimination zone, the battle for survival at the bottom saw a mighty effort from Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly to make it through. It meant that Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne lost out along with Sirotkin and Leclerc. Also out was the sole remaining Haas in the hands of Romain Grosjean, who in any case will have a three-place grid penalty for the race as a result of his accident two weeks ago in Spain.

Monaco Grand Prix Pole for Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB14, 2nd for Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF71H and 3rd for Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W09

Q3: Ricciardo achieves hyperspeed to blast away from the rest

Mercedes was quick to dispatch both drivers, Bottas going top with a time of 1:11.552s. Hamilton's response was to go three tenths faster, which was just enough to keep a nose ahead of Raikkonen's run. But all of them were eclipsed by Ricciardo, who made history by being the first driver to set a lap in the 1:10s, almost half a second faster than Hamilton.

Vettel was the final man to take to the track, but his first effort saw the Ferrari run too deep into Rascasse and his time was only good enough for third. Just five thousandths of a second covered Hamilton, Vettel and Raikkonen after their first runs.

There was still time for one more run from each of the ten cars. Ricciardo was simply out of reach of the rest, but Vettel was able to dig deep to oust Hamilton for second place. Raikkonen was unable to improve and stayed fourth ahead of Bottas.

Ocon was best of the rest in sixth, with Alonso and Sainz making an all-Spanish fourth row for Sunday's start. Rounding out the top ten were Perez in ninth and Gasly tenth.

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