Raikkonen takes pole for Monaco GP; Hamilton finishes 14th

It was redemption for the Finland global who had finished behind his teammate Sebastian Vettel in every qualifying session thus far but came on top by the split of a second across the legendary street circuit. The Mercedes driver had been struggling since second practice on Thursday afternoon and, despite setup changes for yesterday morning, he was still struggling going into qualifying.

"When you don't get through to Q3, pretty much your weekend's done, and it's really about trying to recover as much as you can", he said. "Bottas' auto, it was better, very close to second place". With his we're happy, with Lewis's, not at all.

"We have to analyse it, check carefully what the difference is between the two cars and why the whole set-up worked on one auto and not on the other...."

Hamilton struggled all through the first session. Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull and Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso will occupy the third row of the grid, while Force India's Sergio Perez finished seventh, a place above Haas Ferrari's Romain Grosjean. It was a torrid weekend for Hamilton throughout as he finished almost a second slower than the Ferrari duo in Practice Three where he struggled for grip.

McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne had crashed near the end of Q2, meaning that a yellow flag ended it about one minute early. But he admitted that he would still have had problems even without that incident. "I would have struggled to make it into the top five with the pace that I had".

"I was devastated after the session", said Hamilton. When you see the other cars able to get it to work you can't for the life of you think why you weren't able to. We'll have to take some risks, but it will just be a nice Sunday drive I imagine. "I'm really happy for Kimi because he deserves it. But it's an odd feeling, that's for sure".

The 37-year-old Finn, who had not taken pole for 128 races stretching back to the French Grand Prix in 2008, dominated the afternoon's action to clock a fastest lap of 1min 12.178 sec.

"Obviously it's the best place to start for tomorrow, but it doesn't guarantee anything", he said later. "The auto has felt good here, but the important thing is the race tomorrow".

This improvement was the lap that earned him pole position, as Sebastian Vettel crossed the line seconds later to take P2 with a time that was up on Raikkonen's initial time, but marginally slower than the Finn's improved time - just 0.043 seconds off snatching the position.

Hamilton wasn't the only disappointed Briton. It was from Fernando Alonso, who skipped this year's Formula One race to run in the Indianapolis 500.

"It doesn't matter how many races you've done or not, it still hurts", the 2009 champion and race victor said.

"I would not use the word team player because that goes against the DNA of a racing driver, but I think he has realised, acknowledged and respects the whole effort that is happening in the team".

  • Julie Sanders