Formula 1

Perez Has Huge Accident As Vettel Takes First Monaco Pole

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Sebastian Vettel secured his first ever pole position in Monaco in a qualifying session overshadowed by a nasty accident for Sergio Perez.

The Mexican driver was taken to the medical centre after the heavy impact but was reportedly conscious and talking as he was removed from the wreckage of his Sauber.

Jenson Button starts tomorrow's race from second, Mark Webber third and Fernando Alonso fourth. Michael Schumacher had his best qualifying performance as he took fifth place ahead of Felipe Massa.

Lewis Hamilton's first flying lap in Q3 was ruined by the red flags for Perez's accident and his best effort on the restart could lay claim to only seventh place. Nico Rosberg and Pastor Maldonado will start eighth and ninth whilst Perez, if cleared to race, will start tenth.

The morning practice session in some way set the tone for qualifying in that it was punctuated by two notable accidents, each resulting in a red flag. One was for Nico Rosberg, who hit the barriers coming out of the tunnel, and the other was for Tonio Liuzzi. Both men climbed from their wrecked cars unhurt, but it was a race against time for the mechanics to get the cars repaired for qualifying.

The Hispania mechanics did not get Liuzzi out for qualifying, but the Mercedes crew did manage to get Rosberg's car out before the end of Q1. He jumped straight into fifth on the timesheets with his first flying lap.

Traffic was always going to be a problem in Q1 and so the front-runners just stuck on a set of the prime tyres and continued to circulate for much of the session to ensure a traffic-free lap. Toro Rosso suspected that they would be in danger of dropping out at this early stage and chose to use a set of the option tyres to try and get themselves out of trouble.

This move prompted all but Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari to also use a set of these super-soft tyres. In the end it was Jaime Alguersuari who went out with the six drivers from the new teams. The Spaniard also lightly tagged the back of Kamui Kobayashi during his brief appearance in qualifying, and was hauled in front of the stewards for his misdemeanour. Neither Hispania driver set a flying lap so the stewards will have to make a decision as to whether or not they can race tomorrow.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button put in faster laps than Sebastian Vettel in Q1, indicating that Red Bull were perhaps not going to have it all their own way today in qualifying.

Hamilton also set the fastest time in Q2, albeit just two thousandths of a second better than Vettel's best effort. Button was third fastest.

Towards the back, Pastor Maldonado got through to a second successive Q2, and Sergio Perez all got into the final part of qualifying. Vitaly Petrov failed to get through to Q3 for the first time this season and Rubens Barrichello, Kobayashi, Paul di Resta, Adrian Sutil, Nick Heidfeld and Sebastien Buemi were the other casualties of Q2.

Jenson Button set the early pace in Q3 – a 1:13.997. Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa could not beat that time with their first efforts, but Sebastian Vettel obliterated the time on his first attempt with a lap of 1:13.556.

It was when Lewis Hamilton was on his fastest lap that Sergio Perez had his accident. He came out of the tunnel slightly off the racing line, lost control and hit the barrier on the right-hand side of the track – the same section that Rosberg hit in free practice. The Mexican then skidded, on three wheels, sideways into a barrier. Sauber confirmed that he was conscious and talking after his accident.

The incident brought out the red flag with 2 minutes and 26 seconds of qualifying remaining, with Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado yet to set a lap time in Q3. When the session did restart, after a 38 minute delay, Hamilton was waiting at the exit of the pit lane, eager to get his flying lap in.

Hamilton was followed out of the pits by team-mate Button, and the rest of the remaining participants, all of them after one more attempt to improve their qualifying position. As it was, Hamilton could manage only seventh, Rosberg and Maldonado only eighth and ninth, and the rest of the field abandoned their laps.


Monaco Grand Prix 2011: Provisional Qualifying Result

Pos No Driver Team Time Laps
1 1 Germany Sebastian Vettel Austria Red Bull 1:13.556 18 Report
2 4 United Kingdom Jenson Button United Kingdom McLaren 1:13.997 18 Report
3 2 Australia Mark Webber Austria Red Bull 1:14.019 24 Report
4 5 Spain Fernando Alonso Italy Ferrari 1:14.483 22 Report
5 7 Germany Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes 1:14.682 29 Report
6 6 Brazil Felipe Massa Italy Ferrari 1:14.877 25 Report
7 3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton United Kingdom McLaren 1:15.280 15 Report
8 8 Germany Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes 1:15.766 26 Report
9 12 Venezuela Pastor Maldonado United Kingdom Williams 1:16.528 23 Report
10 17 Mexico Sergio Perez Switzerland Sauber No Time 23 Report
11 10 Russian Federation Vitaly Petrov United Kingdom Renault 1:15.815 21
12 11 Brazil Rubens Barrichello United Kingdom Williams 1:15.826 20 Report
13 16 Japan Kamui Kobayashi Switzerland Sauber 1:15.973 20 Report
14 15 United Kingdom Paul di Resta India Force India 1:16.118 22 Report
15 14 Germany Adrian Sutil India Force India 1:16.121 19 Report
16 9 Germany Nick Heidfeld United Kingdom Renault 1:16.214 22
17 18 Switzerland Sebastien Buemi Italy Toro Rosso 1:16.300 17
18 20 Finland Heikki Kovalainen United Kingdom Team Lotus 1:17.343 10
19 21 Italy Jarno Trulli United Kingdom Team Lotus 1:17.381 9
20 19 Spain Jaime Alguersuari Italy Toro Rosso 1:17.820 9
21 24 Germany Timo Glock United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1:17.914 12
22 25 Belgium Jerome D'Ambrosio United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1:18.736 11
23 22 India Narain Karthikeyan Spain Hispania Racing No Time 0
24 23 Italy Vitantonio Liuzzi Spain Hispania Racing No Time 0
107% qualifying time 1:20.471

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David is an occasional contributer to the site on matters related to Formula 1. You can follow him on twitter at @Dr_Bean.
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