Kimi Raikkonen is on pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton took 14th at Formula 1’s biggest race. The 37-year-old Finn is at the front of the grid for the first time in nine years – his last pole was the 2008 French Grand Prix.
Raikkonen edged out team-mate Sebastian Vettel by 0.043 seconds, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas 0.002secs further back. Jenson Button will start from the back after qualifying ninth on his return to F1 because of a grid penalty.
Hamilton struggled with a lack of grip, and had to abort two laps after almost crashing, and then came across another crashed car on his final lap. 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. He was 10th in the first session, 0.3secs off Bottas, but the second session began unravelling from the start.
Meanwhile Ferrari face a dilemma. As their main title contender, Vettel will start as a strong favourite for victory today, but Bottas is in the same place on the grid as he was when he won in Russia a month ago. Ferrari have never said that Vettel has number one status but it is widely believed within the paddock that he does.
Ferrari therefore face a conundrum – do they let the two drivers race and potentially have Raikkonen win, or engineer a situation that enables Vettel to take the flag and maximise his points gain against Hamilton, who is six points behind heading into the race?
Raikkonen said: “We know what we are doing. We are racing for the team. We have certain rules. We are allowed to fight but we cannot take each other off. People expect it to be something different from the last two years. Nothing has changed. People just try to make a stupid story out of nothing.”