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Ricciardo stuns in Monaco to take maiden pole


Despite a pretty dreadful - by his standards - Thursday, Sebastian Vettel somehow topped the timesheets in this morning's session, the German edging out Lewis Hamilton by 0.018s.

Vettel suffered all manner of problems on Thursday, most of his own making, as he appeared to overdrive into a number of mistakes.

However, with teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who currently heads Vettel in the standings, down in ninth, almost a second off the pace, one has to wonder which of these illustrious drivers represents Ferrari's true pace.

Both Mercedes drivers were within 0.122s of Vettel, and, never having used the ultrasoft tyre before Thursday, there is concern as to how much quicker the Silver Arrows pair might be as they get more used to the purple-banded tyre.

Despite a slight brush with the walls for Max Verstappen, the Red Bull duo is looking good and many favour Daniel Ricciardo, benefiting from an upgraded Renault engine here, as the man to beat. Unfortunately, due to that clash with the barrier, the resultant yellow flags and traffic, we didn't get to see the true pace of the Red Bull earlier.

The Toro Rosso is looking very strong here, and as a result this might be the Faenza team's best opportunity to shine, with Daniil Kvyat and Carlo Sainz both looking more than capable.

Also looking good thus far is the Force India pair, particularly Sergio Perez, and McLaren.

Williams, on the other hand, continued to struggle, the Grove outfit having really lost out on this type of circuit in recent years.

Indeed, we have a feeling that neither of the Martini branded cars will make it through to Q3.

Those barriers, which at times appear magnetic, drawing the unsuspecting and overambitious to them like sirens, are likely to claim further victims this afternoon, especially in the early stages when traffic leads to frustration. Such incidents, and the resultant yellows, mean we could be in for some shocks, particularly in Q1.

Whilst Verstappen's encounter with the barriers wasn't too significant or costly - unlike last year - a number of other drivers have come to grief this weekend as they discover just how unforgiving this place can be.

Talking of unforgiving, a gearbox change following FP3 for Raikkonen means the Finn drops 5 places.

Ahead of the start of Q1, the air temperature is 21 degrees C, whilst the track temperature is 40 degrees.

Whilst a good grid position is more vital here than at any other circuit, it is perhaps worth noting that we are expecting rain tomorrow.

Along with the ultrasofts, the other tyres available this weekend are supersoft and soft.

Haryanto heads the queue at the end of the pitlane, a queue that includes the Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams duos. Whilst the sun is shining and there is zero chance of rain, it is the fear of incidents and yellow flags that means drivers want a 'banker' lap in the bag.

Talking of which, Nasr's Ferrari engine detonates big time in the tunnel , the Brazilian grinding to a halt shortly after.

The session is red flagged as the Sauber is lifted to safety. At the tunnel exit, marshals lay cement where there appears to be some oil following Nasr's issue.

The session resumes, again the Mercedes duo are among the first out, Gutierrez leading the way.

Gutierrez posts 17.126 and teammate Grosjean 16.261, whilst Hamilton goes third with a 23.352. no problems for Hamilton, it's just that the Mercedes drivers are posting their best times on their second hot lap.

Sure enough, Hamilton is purple in the first two sectors, finally crossing the line at 14.831 to go quickest. Moments later Rosberg goes second with a 14.873, just ahead of Vettel (15.250).

Kvyat posts 15.384 to go fourth with Button going fifth (15.554) moments late.

As the Red Bull duo head down the pitlane, Raikkonen posts 15.793 to go sixth.

Another quick lap for Hamilton who goes quickest in S1. He loses time in S2, finally crossing the line at 14.610. Raikkonen improves to fifth with a 15.499.

A 14.610 sees Vettel go top as the Red Bull duo begin their first flying lap.

Ricciardo can only manage fourth (14.912), whilst teammate Verstappen posts 22.467.

With 7:10 remaining, Alonso and Nasr are the only drivers that haven't posted times.

The Force India duo had been out on supers but have now changed (wisely) to ultras.

Out comes the red flag as Verstappen goes into the barriers at the Swimming Pool exit.

Asked if he's alright, the Dutch teenager sheepishly replies that he is.

Replay shows him hitting the barrier on the inside, which damages his steering arm which then leaves him helpless as he heads into the barriers on the outside of the chicane.

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1. Posted by TokyoAussie, 29/05/2016 2:19

"Perhaps Red Bull think rain will come after others have stopped, meaning Ricciardo would end up doing 1 stop for wets while others would need 1 stop for drys and another for wets. Or perhaps they didn't expect pole in the first place. "

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2. Posted by TokyoAussie, 29/05/2016 0:41

"I am baffled by Red Bull's tyre strategy. If it's dry, the benefit is generally gained by stopping earlier, not later. Other teams may stop before Ricciardo is even able to if he wants to use the purple softs. Alonso once did his tyre change at the end of lap 1. A SC is almost guaranteed, so perhaps they're counting on that. I think the driver who stops first is the one to beat, so starting on a harder tyre doesn't make any sense to me.

It may well be wet in any case, so it may all be academic. "

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