Ferrari continues to improve, Mercedes now looks vulnerable

Vettel is now the leader in the FIA World Championship table (104 points) and will get the opportunity to distance himself from Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton (98 points), who would struggle to secure a podium finish in a track that rarely accommodates overtaking manoeuvres.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas will start Sunday's famous race from third with Max Verstappen fourth in a Red Bull.

Indeed Hamilton, whose Mercedes team struggled during practice here on Thursday, was only fifth in the order, an eye-watering 0.835 seconds down on Vettel's best time.

Vettel will need to get past his team-mate at some stage to win and believes he could have snatched pole but for some overzealous driving.

For his second stint, Raikkonen did a 1m12.231s, elsewhere, Hamilton locked up at Mirabeau as he came out of Casino Square, a tough session for the Brit. "It takes two to three laps to build the temperature up and find the right balance and feel for the vehicle".

"Still, it felt very tricky in some places and it was very hard to get the lap together, as we saw with the issues had with that and traffic in Q2. So, we are going to prepare for the race as usual". Ferrari definitively has the upper hand this weekend, and well done to Kimi for the pole. As Bottas proved, the W08 was quick when all four tyres were in the window, but finding a setup that can achieve that for a single lap has proved a problem ever since the team started down the wrong setup path on Thursday afternoon. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday.

"It shows we were not bad here and we will just have to figure out why I was not able to be up there with him".

Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - P3: "I hope [the deficit] is not real".

Asked how his qualifying without the Vandoorne incident, Hamilton told Sky Sports: "I think I would have struggled". I did everything I could in the auto.

"This weekend has been a bit tricky for us".

"Their vehicle is a bit more drivable", he added.

Hamilton was only tenth fastest at that stage, six tenths off the pace after complaining of overheating rear tyres over the team radio.

Hamilton was eliminated in Q2 after mistakes and traffic on his earlier laps, before his final attempt was cut short by yellow flags, caused when Stoffel Vandoorne hit the barriers exiting Piscine. But Hamilton was arguably too far behind to reach the top 10 shootout.

"I don't really know what to say at the moment". "I would have struggled to make it into the top five with the pace that I had".

"Although we tried to retrace our steps, we never got it back on track for him", head of Motorsport Toto Wolff said.

"Tomorrow's race will clearly be a case of damage limitation for him", Wolff said.

  • Zachary Reyes