By the time qualifying started, the momentum appeared to be firmly with Ferrari with Vettel topping FP3 by three-tenths to the rest of the field. It was looking like it would be a Ferrari pole and Kimi Raikkonen was the driver to secure it.
With two-minutes of Q1 to go, Grosjean, Stroll, Palmer, Wehrlein and Ericsson were in the drop zone. The only driver to improve and escape the drop was Romain Grosjean, who jumped up to 12th on his final lap, demoting Esteban Ocon into the drop zone. Ericsson wasn’t able to improve due to a failure in the car, although he only
In Q2, Mercedes still looked massively off the pace of Ferrari, Hamilton was 14th fastest and over the radio to complain about an issue with the car. The car was sliding around on the ultrasofts, a trait the Mercedes had picked up inadvertently in FP2, and something they clearly hadn’t been able to fully fix. With five-minutes to go in Q2, Sainz, Grosjean, Magnussen and Massa were in the drop zone, looking to find some time.
At the front, Raikkonen was 0.008s ahead of Verstappen. It was becoming clear that the Dutchman was the biggest challenge to Ferrari for pole. The big surprise for Q2 was Hamilton’s inability to get into Q3. Out of Q2 were Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Hamilton and Massa. It would be difficult for Hamilton to recover around Monaco, and it was starting to look like a really difficult weekend for the brit.
In Q3, after the first round of laps, Raikkonen was on provisional pole with a 0.7s gap back to Ricciardo in 2nd, followed by Vettel, Bottas and Verstappen. Incredibly, the Flying Finn retained pole position by going a tenth quicker that his earlier time. It was enough to hold off late improvements from Vettel, Bottas and Verstappen, who will start the race behind the Iceman in that order.
Ferrari have the front-row lockout, which will really play into their hands strategically id they can get away. Kimi’s pole position was his first since 2008, and is a refreshing statement of intent for the Finn. Ferrari’s only struggle will be whether or not they should implement team orders to give Vettel as many points as possible, especially with Hamilton starting in 14th.
Ricciardo starts the race 5th, with Sainz and impressive 6th. Sergio Perez lines up 7th, Grosjean 8th, Jenson Button 9th and Stoffel Vandoorne 10th.