Michael Schumacher assured his fans worldwide that he still has what it takes with a scintillating pole position lap around the streets of Monaco. But Australian Mark Webber will inherit the view from the front tomorrow as Schumi is docked with the five-place penalty he earned in Spain. The Red Bull driver had held pole position with a 1m 14.381s briefly before Schumacher crossed the line with a 1m 14.301s for the silver arrows.
In third was Nico Rosberg with 1m 14.448s followed by Lewis Hamilton on 1m 14.583s for McLaren. The Lotus of Romain Grosjean was fifth with 1m 14.639s and the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa followed with 1m 14.948s and 1m 15.049s. Massa has made it into Q3 for the first time this season!
The twisty street circuit of Monaco always throws a bit of drama into F1. This year, barely five minutes into Qualifying and Sergio Perez hit the wall near the swimming pool complex and damaged his left rear suspension thoroughly. He failed to register a time within the 107% rule and is now at the mercy of the race stewards for a race start.
Drivers swapped places even faster than the timing screens at one stage with Force India’s Hulkenberg heading the sheets with a 1m 15.418s ahead of Sauber’s Kobayashi and Lotus’ Grosjean. He was on the Pirelli red super softs.
Heikki Kovalainen, Vitaly Petrov, Timo Glock, Pedro De la Rosa, Charles Pic, Narain Karthikeyan and Sergio Perez would play no further part in Qualifying.
A slow moving Jean Eric Vergne nearly collected the Ferrari of Felipe Massa at the first corner of the swimming pool complex. The Torro Rosso driver drove straight into the wall and damaged his nose cone under braking. Luckily for Massa, a hot lap of 1m 14.911s saw him heading the session from Nico Rosberg and Spain’s conqueror, Pastor Maldonado. Kimi Raikkonen barely managed to make it into Q3. But Jenson Button didn’t. The British driver again had issues with his tyre wear.
The Finn World Champion finished eighth with 1m 15.199s from Maldonado on 1m 15.245s and Vettel in tenth. Nico Hulkenberg, Kamui Kobayashi, Jenson Button, Bruno Senna, Paul Di Resta, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne rounded off the top 17.
But right at the front, after a six year hiatus from a controversial Monaco Grand Prix in 2006, where he made headlines for parking his Ferrari to prevent Alonso from timing his final run, Michael Schumacher is back.
He blushed at the cameras like a debutant twenty year old. In his genius brain however, he was probably visualising the first lap tomorrow. And you’ve got to believe that several million of his supporters all around the world are too.