May 28, 2011
Vettel wins Monaco pole
|Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany (C), teammate Mark Webber of Australia (L) and McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain pose after the qualifying session of the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, May 28, 2011. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull Racing claimed the pole for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix in a qualifying session that was marred by a horrifying accident that involved Sauber’s Sergio Perez.
With 2 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the final qualifying stint (Q3), Perez lost control exiting the tunnel, as his car veered to the right and clipped the barrier. He then slid down the hill and went side-on into the chicane barrier. Medical personnel quickly arrived at the scene.
Sauber confirmed that Perez was awake and alert while he was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital. The 21-year-old Mexican complained of pain in his right leg.
“Sitting here talking about qualifying, I think the most important thing was to hear that Sergio is okay,” Vettel said. “We are all thinking of him, and obviously, we wish him all the best.”
Just before Perez’s crash, Vettel set a blistering lap at 1 minute, 13.556 seconds around the very tricky 3.34 kilometre Monte Carlo street circuit. The defending Formula One world champion has now won five poles in the first six grand prix this season.
Q3 was halted for 35 minutes, as track personnel repaired the chicane barrier.
“It wasn’t easy to wait that long of a time, but I think the circuit in the second attempt in Q3 after waiting for such a long time was not there anymore,” Vettel added. “Not a lot of people improved. It was quite slippery. I had to wait a long time for pole, but I’m very pleased. It’s always important here.”
Jenson Button, who won the Monaco GP during his championship season in 2009, placed his McLaren car second on the starting grid with a lap at 1:13.997.
“It wasn’t bad, but the great thing was I put in a good lap at the start of the (Q3) session it was much better than my Q2 lap,” Button said.
Webber’s teammate, Mark Webber, the defending race winner, qualified third, followed by Fernando Alonso from Ferrari and Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher, who has won this event five times.
Alonso was quickest in the final practice session, held earlier in the day.
Felipe Massa took the sixth spot in his Ferrari, while McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg from Mercedes and Williams’ Pastor Maldonado were seventh through ninth, respectively.
Hamilton led the way in Q1 and Q2, but faltered in the last stint.
Perez was credited with 10th. His status for the 78-lap Monaco race is unknown at this time.
During the opening minutes of final practice, Rosberg also crashed in the same location where Perez’s incident took place.
That area of the circuit has been known for serious accidents in the past.
“In terms of safety, it’s probably an area where we need to look at and improve for the future,” Webber said.
HRT drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi did not participate in qualifying. Liuzzi sustained heavy damage to his left front wheel in a wreck during the last practice. Karthikeyan experienced rear suspension problems in that practice session.
Both drivers will need permission from Stewards to compete in the race.