Key pole goes to Ricciardo Grid position is even more important at Monaco than at other circuits. So while championship leader, Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin), got his job done by getting on the front row with the fastest qualifying time of his group,...
Key pole goes to Ricciardo
Grid position is even more important at Monaco than at other circuits. So while championship leader, Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin), got his job done by getting on the front row with the fastest qualifying time of his group, it was Daniel Ricciardo (Tech 1 Racing) who pulled out the fastest overall qualifying time, making him pole-sitter for the third time this season. On Sunday, he will line up ahead of Mikhail Aleshin, Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi) and Monaco's very own Stefano Coletti (Comtec Racing).
At Monaco, with just one qualifying session, the drivers are divided out into two groups, according to provisional championship standings. So the leader, Mikhail Aleshin, was in Group A and second-placed Daniel Ricciardo in Group B.
We had to wait a few laps before seeing significant lap times start to flash up on the timing screens. Mikhail Aleshin set the early pace ahead of Stefano Coletti. The mano a mano between the Russian and the local boy was the highlight of this group, the two drivers taking turns in provisional pole position. Sten Pentus (Fortec Motorsport) and Brendon Hartley (Tech 1 Racing) got on the pace around the mid-session mark. Stefano Coletti took the lead, with a time of 1'27''999, ahead of Mikhail Aleshin, Brendon Hartley and Greg Mansell (Comtec Racing). With his second set of tyres, Mikhail Aleshin took over once more, lapping
in 1'27''934 just as the session was briefly interrupted when Julian Leal (International Draco Racing) left the track in Rascasse. The drivers restarted for six vital minutes. Mikhail Aleshin took advantage to up the pace again, taking over half a second off his own time, with 1'27''332, and Stefano Coletti grabbed second. As the chequered flag drew close, Mikhail Aleshin took another 300th of a second off his own best time, with 1'27''011, to finish top of his group, ahead of Stefano Coletti, Sten Pentus, Brendon Hartley and Daniil Move (Lotus Junior Racing).
As with Group A, we had to wait a few minutes before seeing the first quick laps in Group B. It was Alexander Rossi (ISR) who made an early impression, leading from Nelson Panciatici (Junior Lotus Racing) and Daniel Zampieri (Pons Racing). Nelson Panciatici was the first of the Group B drivers to go below the 1'28 mark, with a lap time of 1'27''790, sending him to the top of the timing charts at mid-session, ahead of Albert Costa and Daniel Ricciardo.
Alexander Rossi initiated a wave of significant improvements, taking the lead in 1'27''510, then banging in a time of 1'26''664, making him provisional pole-sitter at the moment when Bruno Mendez hit the barrier in Portier. A few seconds later, it was the turn of Victor Garcia (KMP Racing) to get caught out in Sainte-Devote, followed by Alexander Rossi himself in Massenet. The red flag came out, with Alexander Rossi still in first, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Albert Costa. The drivers took to the track again for a final four minutes. The last lap proved decisive. Under the chequered flag, Albert Costa seemed to make pole with 1'26''592, but on his tail, Daniel Ricciardo went one better, with a time of 1'26''230. So the Australian will be the proud pole-sitter on Sunday, and will share the front row with Mikhail Aleshin.
Daniel Ricciardo: "This was the pole-position to win if ever there was one! It all played out in the last lap, fairly typically on a street circuit. Everyone tries to up the pace, taking more and more risks as long as we don't touch the barriers... I was being a little bit cautious, but Simon Abadie, my team manager told me over the radio to give it everything! Pole position is the first step here, next it's the start that will be decisive. For the minute, I couldn't be happier with where I am right now... "
Mikhail Aleshin: "I'm a little disappointed, because the track was quicker for the second group, so it was difficult to get the pole position. However, the main thing is to be on the front row. Tomorrow I'll do my best to get the win here, I'm not in a position where you can figure the points out or anything like that. For me, the win is important, it's not yet time to think about the championship."