Monaco Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel takes pole again
World champion makes it five poles out of six this season after Sergio Perez suffered a serious crash
Sebastian Vettel took pole for the Monaco Grand Prix ahead of Jenson Button and Mark Webber after a dramatic day in Monte Carlo.
Sergio Perez lost control of his Sauber coming out of the tunnel in Q3 and after sliding into the wall, came to a stop at the chicane following a heavy collision.
Perez was taken to the nearby Princess Grace Hospital suffering from concussion, but the Mexican had suffered no serious injuries.
“He was taken to hospital in Monaco where he underwent an extensive examination,” Sauber said in a statement. “The medical staff informed the Sauber F1 Team that he escaped the shunt with concussion and a bruised thigh.
“Perez will remain in hospital at least overnight and will definitely not start the race on Sunday.”
The crash caused a 40-minute delay as the rookie was checked over and stewards repaired the barriers, with just under two and a half minutes left of the session for the remaining eight challengers to Vettel’s stunning time of 1:13.556.
“It’s a long way around this track,” Vettel said. “Qualifying is tough, there are three segments and you have to give 100 per cent in each one.
“The most important thing to hear is that Sergio is OK and is conscious. We were sitting and waiting to go out, but we were watching the images on the TV screen as well and so we’re all thinking of him and wish him all the best.”
He added: “We’ve seen this year with multiple pit stops that things can change.
“Pole position is very important here, so we can be happy with that, but there’s no guarantee for tomorrow’s race. We need to push hard and see what we can do.”
Despite time to complete one flying lap, low tyre temperatures hindered the drivers, with only Lewis Hamilton able to improve claiming seventh after failing to set a time prior to Perez’s crash.
Hamilton will have to be at his best in the race if he is to challenge championship rival Vettel, with the tight, twisting Monte Carlo street circuit the most difficult course for overtaking on the F1 calendar.
The 2008 world champion was disappointed to miss out on the chance to challenge for pole, believing he had the pace to hit the front row.
“Engineers advise that we should do one [run] at the end of Q3 and I didn’t contest it,” Hamilton said. “You always have to take a balanced view with the engineers.
“I definitely didn’t take into account, and I know they didn’t either that in Monaco you can’t take risks in leaving it right to the end.
“You have to get out and get in a banker, like everyone else did. With racing experience you’d assume that most people would have that, but I guess other things were going on and we didn’t have that. It’s my worst Q3 for a long time.”
Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate Button is at least on the front row of the grid, despite being 0.441 seconds slower than the championship leader.
Fernando Alonso took fourth ahead of Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in sixth, with Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher sandwiched between them.
Nico Rosberg was eighth for Mercedes ahead of Williams rookie Pastor Maldonado, ahead of Perez who failed to set a time.
Renault’s Vitaly Petrov just missed out on Q3, and with Perez ruled out of the race, the Russian will inherit the final spot in the top 10.
Rubens Barrichello will start behind him as Williams had one of their best starts to a race weekend in 2011.
Kamui Kobayashi is 12th on the grid ahead of Force India’s Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil, with Renault’s Nick Heidfeld a disappointing 16th, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi.
Buemi’s team-mate Jaime Alguersuari was the unfortunate driver to miss out on Q2 after suffering front wing damage, and will start 21st to compound a disappointing qualifying for Red Bull’s sister team.
Team Lotus duo Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli took 18th and 19th ahead of Virgin Racing’s JerÃƒÂ´me d’Ambrosio, with Timo Glock in the second Virgin in 22nd.
Hispania Racing’s Narain Karthikeyan and Tonio Liuzzi failed to set a lap time. Liuzzi smashed the rear of his car towards the end of final practice, while Karthikeyan found a problem with the car and could not fix it in time for qualifying.
Stewards later decided to allow both Hispania cars to race on Sunday, and they will start from the back of the grid.