Daniel Ricciardo secured the first pole of his Formula One career with an incredible lap in qualifying for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix. Championship leader Nico Rosberg will join the Red Bull driver on the front row with his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who has not won at the principality since 2008, only third on the grid.
Ricciardo’s emphatic lap marked the first pole position for Red Bull since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Hamilton already trails Rosberg by 43 points, and the fraught defence of his championship crown took another dramatic twist after another engine failure prevented the Briton from posting a quick lap until the closing moments of qualifying.
Hamilton emerged for Q3 – the final phase of qualifying – with six of the 12-minute phase remaining and in the closing moments he appeared on course to snatch a dramatic pole from Ricciardo, but a slow final sector means he will start not only behind Ricciardo, but his Mercedes team-mate, too.
With overtaking almost impossible at the narrow street circuit, Hamilton, three-tenths of a second slower than Ricciardo, cut a bleak figure in the post-qualifying press conference.
“It was a difficult qualifying, and I don’t know what to say,” Hamilton said.
“The good thing was that I could get out and do a lap. I will do what I can tomorrow to salvage what I can from today’s result. If the car keeps going I will be fighting as hard as I can with these guys. Hopefully it rains.”
In contrast, Ricciardo, was thrilled to secure the maiden pole of his career. “I knew coming into the weekend I had a shot at it,” said Ricciardo who was fastest in practice on Thursday. “It looked good from Thursday. I think after the last few races, I feel like I have been driving well, but not getting maximum reward. I came in with a lot of confidence and a lot of belief.”
Ricciardo’s Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen had thrilled the sport with his incredible victory at the Spanish Grand Prix to become Formula One’s youngest-ever winner, but the 18-year-old crashed out of qualifying in dramatic fashion.
He will start last but one on Sunday after he clipped the barrier on the entrance to the chicane at the high-speed swimming pool complex, breaking his right-front suspension, and crashing head-on into the wall.
The session was immediately red-flagged as the debris from the accident littered the asphalt. Verstappen, who also crashed in final practice earlier on Saturday, emerged from the Red Bull cockpit with only his dignity bruised.
Jenson Button predicted the twisty street circuit would herald his best chance of a strong finish this season, but the 2009 world champion failed to reach the final phase of qualifying and will start only 13th.
He was three tenths adrift of his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, who made it through to Q3, and posted a lap good enough for 10th.
Elsewhere, Sebastian Vettel was fourth for Ferrari with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg fifth. Kimi Raikkonen qualified sixth, but will drop five places after being dealt a gearbox penalty.
Lewis Hamilton & Nico Rosberg claimed that they ‘cleared the air’ over their collision at the 2016 Spanish GP. But we’re in Formula 1 – we don’t clear the air, we dirty it! In this week’s episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Mithila & Kunal give you a sneak peek into the conversation between the two not-so-bitter title rivals.
Le Mans has rejected Formula 1 – by saying NO to the FIA’s proposal to race at its legendary circuit. What hurts more is that MotoGP already races there! Hamilton is keen to race in MotoGP too, presumably to take some more selfies.
The team also give you their predictions for a favourite race of the year, and ask if Max Verstappen can pull off another stunning victory.
There’s also chatter about Formula 1 drivers racing in the Indy Car series one day. While Perez is open to the idea, Hamilton has declined interest, but we wonder if that’s possible and if it is fair. After all, the Indy Car series is all-American.
Finally, the guys tell you why Rosberg moving to Ferrari is only a rumour (he’s not good enough!) and how the whispers of Hamilton missing the Monaco GP came about (he wanted to party on Saturday night) and much more.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen made Formula One history last week when, at the age of 18, he became the sport’s youngest ever winner with victory in the Spanish GP after the two Mercedes collided on the first lap and went out of the race.
As Monaco approaches this weekend, he spoke to Sport360 about how he feels now his fantastic achievement has had time to sink in and what he expects for the rest of the season.
Q Tell us how you feel now about being F1’s youngest grand prix winner. What sort of reaction have you had since last Sunday and were you expecting victory to come so early?
A It was of course a great achievement to win. I have had a few days now to really realise what happened and yes it feels great. It’s a great feeling and achievement for the whole team I think, we took our opportunities after the crash of the Mercedes cars so I am very happy to win.
How are you going to follow such a momentous weekend? Do you think you can win more races this season?
To be honest I will just approach every race like I always do, try to do my best and from there on see what happens. I think you have to be realistic, Mercedes is pretty fast so we just need to keep pushing and hope that’s enough to at least score some podiums.
Many have spoken about your incredible maturity but do you think being so young brings additional pressure?
I think you always have pressure but for me at the moment it’s just positive pressure. I’m enjoying what I’m doing, I like to drive the car and I think if you are a happy person and you feel well in the team, you can produce the performance.
What sort of feedback have you had from world champion Lewis Hamilton and former champions Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, and other drivers? What sort of things have they been saying to you?
Well from Lewis not so much, I think he was pretty disappointed after his race. From the other guys very positive and very happy for me, which is very nice to see. Especially with Seb on the podium, he told me “Max you should go back on the podium and just celebrate it on your own”, so it was very nice to see that. There is a lot of respect between all the drivers.
What did team owner Dietrich Mateschitz and Christian Horner say to you after your win? How did team-mate Daniel Ricciardo react after his unfortunate puncture on the penultimate lap which wrecked his chances?
Daniel was very happy for me, he said congratulations on your first victory. It was a great shame he was not there with me because I think he had a great chance to also get to the podium. Mr. Mateschitz was also very happy, you could see he was smiling a lot and also congratulated me and said we did a great job. Christian was also very happy, I think nobody really expected it but just a great achievement.
Were you surprised when you replaced Daniil Kvyat in the Red Bull team?
I was a bit surprised it would happen in the middle of the season, but when you get that chance you take it and we have started off in a very positive way.
Tell us a little bit about your childhood and when you realised you wanted to follow your father Jos into Formula One. There is often additional pressure on sons of former F1 drivers to do well. Did you feel any pressure as you made your way into F1?
Yes, the whole family was racing so I think it was quite obvious I would start racing. But it’s important you have to enjoy it yourself. Luckily, my parents never pushed me into it, they just let me do what I enjoyed and that was racing. It started off as a bit of fun in Go Karting and then with a lot of help from my dad we have got to Formula 1.
How difficult is it to get into Formula One and apart from being quick, what is the main characteristic you need to succeed in this sport?
All the people in Formula 1 are very talented but talent alone is not enough, you have to work hard also to achieve the best result possible. It’s not just doing a great lap but also spending time with your engineers to improve the car, to improve yourself every time.
Your dad has obviously been hugely influential in your career so far. Tell us about that and his decision to now take a step backwards from being so directly involved and let others take your career to its next level. How has the rest of your family supported you and how did they react after your win?
I don’t really see him taking a step backwards. We are now in a top team so there is not much more he can do. He is still there like he also was in Toro Rosso but its not really a step backwards. He advised me a lot in Go Karts and Formula 3 so for sure if it wasn’t for him I would not be here now.
Apart from your father, which Formula One driver has been the biggest inspiration for you?
You have a lot of respect for people and their achievements in the sport but there is not one person in particular I really look up too.
Who do you see as your main rival among the young drivers now coming into Formula One?
To be honest, I don’t really know, it depends a lot on which car they get. A lot of young drivers are very quick but you also need a good car around you to get the performance out.
Red Bull have struggled a little bit over the past couple of seasons with engine issues. They are now clearly on the way back. Do you think you can nowcompete with Mercedes andFerrari on a regular basis or isthe world title too big an ask thisseason?
I think Mercedes is still a bit far ahead but we get some updates very soon so hopefully that will bring us a bit closer. Like you can see in Barcelona, we were fighting with Ferrari so this is already very positive. We are definitely on the way back to winning more regularly.
What other sports do you enjoy and follow? Do you have any other hobbies?
Go Karting and basically anything with an engine on I pretty much enjoy.
What music do you enjoy?
All different kinds of music, 90’s, pop music, dance music, rock music so pretty much anything. It depends on what kind of mood you’re in.”
Milton Keynes…(laughs) No I haven’t found that one yet.
Finally, Monaco is next up. What are your chances there?
We have a good chance of a podium because our car should be pretty strong there. We haven’t driven the new car there this year so I’ll just take it easy and we’ll see what happens. You need to have good feelings on the street circuit because it’s all about confidence so from there we will keep pushing and see what happens.