x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Webber's momentum continues in Monaco

Red Bull continue their domination of qualifying this season as Mark Webber makes it six pole positions in a row for the team.

Mark Webber, the pole-sitter, centre, flanked by Robert Kubica, right, who starts second and Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel, who starts third.
Mark Webber, the pole-sitter, centre, flanked by Robert Kubica, right, who starts second and Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel, who starts third.

Red Bull continued their domination of qualifying this season as Mark Webber made it six pole positions in a row. Following his lights-to-flag win in last Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, Webber will now start hot favourite to make it two victories in a row after grabbing pole for F1's blue-riband race around Monaco. But there is no Red Bull lock-out of the front row as Renault's Robert Kubica produced a stunning performance around the streets of the principality to grab second spot ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Webber produced an astonishing time of 1min 13.826sec, the only driver to dip under 74 seconds over the past few days, beating Kubica by a quarter of a second. Behind Vettel comes Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren as the Woking marque failed to find the sweet spot around a track where they have won 15 times since 1984. Nico Rosberg edged out Michael Schumacher in the duel of the Mercedes duo for sixth and seventh, with last year's winner Jenson Button a lowly eighth, followed by Williams' Rubens Barrichello. Vitantonio Liuzzi starts 10th for Force India after outqualifying teammate Adrian Sutil for the first time this season.

Nico Hulkenberg starts 11th after finishing just 0.167sec adrift of Button at the end of Q2, with the Williams driver ahead of Sutil and Sebastien Buemi in his Toro Rosso. Vitaly Petrov wound up a dramatic 14th after he wrapped his Renault around a tyre barrier at Sainte Devote, with the Russian followed by the Saubers of Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi, as well as the second Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari. As expected, the first 20 minutes were typically busy, but there was none of the chaos that had been expected and there were no major casualties as the three new teams all exited.

Fernando Alonso's crash in final practice earlier today, leaving his Ferrari team with no time to repair the chassis, guaranteed him last place on the grid, although he will start from the pit lane. It left the remaining 15 drivers with the more established teams with the task of simply negotiating their way through Q1 and posting a lap time none of the three new marques could touch. There was the occasional frustrated hand gesture, as witnessed from the on-board camera of Kubica's car, as the Pole was baulked on one of his early hot laps. But come the conclusion those expected to make it through all did so, as Lotus, Virgin and Hispania Racing were ousted.

The best of those was Lotus' Heikki Kovalainen who finished almost a second down on Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, and will start 18th. Such was the Finn's determination he spun twice on successive laps, once at Mirabeau and then in the middle of Loews hairpin, but it was not enough. Teammate Jarno Trulli was just 0.040sec adrift and starts 19th ahead of Virgin's Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi, followed by the Hispania duo of Bruno Senna, whose late uncle Ayrton won six times here, and Karun Chandhok. * PA