Once again, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team were the ones to beat in qualifying with Nico Rosberg taking his second pole position of the season despite running into the escape road at Mirabeau on his second run that brought out yellow flags that affected the run of team-mate Lewis Hamilton. The two drivers finished 0.059s apart up front, with Rosberg’s lap of 1:15.989s the faster of the two.
Pole sitter Rosberg was happy to take pole position but admitted he pushed too hard on his second run that caused him to run into the escape road at Mirabeau that cost Hamilton a run for pole. He was made to visit the stewards after the session but they could not prove that Rosberg had crashed deliberately, and the German’s pole position was safe.
“I’ve felt really good in the car for the whole weekend and to get pole again here in Monaco is fantastic,” said Rosberg. “The team has done a great job again this weekend because our performance is so strong even on this unique circuit – which shows that we have developed a really strong chassis and engine package for this season.
“I did a really great banker lap at the beginning in Q3 but Lewis was very close, so I gave it another try and pushed a bit more, unfortunately just a bit too much over the limit. I locked up the rears and then the fronts offline at the bumpy downhill part of the track before turn five but I just managed to get down the escape road.
“I have apologised to Lewis for having hindered the opportunity for him to improve his lap time. Now I will look ahead and forward to the race. I need to have a good start and I hope for a strong race with a good strategy.” Lewis Hamilton was disappointed to have missed out on pole position, firstly admitting the yellow flags cost him the chance on his second run, but secondly admitting that he should have made his first lap count.
“I’d had a good weekend so far and I’ve just been concentrating on my own performance and working on the pace one step at a time,” said Hamilton. “Qualifying was going well today but in hindsight, I should have nailed my best lap before the end of Q3. This is Monaco and there is always the risk of yellow flags here.
“Of course, I’m extremely disappointed that I didn’t get to finish my lap as I was a couple of tenths up. That’s motorsport. I have to get the best possible start and then see what we can do from there.”
Mercedes Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff admitted the session was exciting, and that both drivers were pushing each other to the edge.
“That was a thrilling qualifying session,” said Wolff. “We had two drivers fighting right on the edge for every thousandth of a second and that’s when mistakes happen, as they did today for Nico.
“It was an incredible fight between Nico and Lewis and, from the team’s perspective, it’s fantastic to have locked out the front row at the track where qualifying matters most. But we have a hard race ahead of us tomorrow and it’s one of the most demanding on the calendar. There is still a long way to go.”