A Matter of Inches, Lotus F1 Monaco GP Qualifying

A touch of Monaco magic descended on Monte Carlo this afternoon, as one of the most tightly contested qualifying sessions in recent memory kept hearts racing to the very last second

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03 Position: Q1 – P6 / Q2 – P10 / Q3 – P8 Best Time: Q1 – 1:15.889 / Q2 – 1:15.322 / Q3 – 1:15.199 Laps Completed: Q1 – 10 / Q2 – 10 / Q3 – 8

Romain Grosjean, E20-04 Position: Q1 – P3 / Q2 – P8 / Q3 – P5* Best Time: Q1 – 1:15.718 / Q2 – 1:15.219 / Q3 – 1:14.639 Laps Completed: Q1 – 11 / Q2 – 10 / Q3 – 6

*Romain will start from P4 after a grid penalty for Michael Schumacher

For a full run-down of the session’s final standings, visit our results page.

As Q1 got underway, both E20s emerged from their respective garages sporting matching sets of yellow marked soft compound Pirelli tyres. Each set a sighter lap before the session took a twist with just 5 minutes elapsed.

Romain in particular looking very strong

Red flags waved as Sergio Perez clipped the wall through La Piscine, eventually coming to a stop at La Rascasse. Unfortunately for Kimi and Romain, both were forced to abort flying laps – Romain in particular looking very strong before having to back off and head back to base.

With the session back underway, the team held the drivers in the garage before releasing them with just over 5 minutes remaining. Romain put in a strong early lap to put himself right at the sharp end on the soft tyres.

Kimi by contrast seemingly encountered traffic at every turn, coming under pressure in the dying moments of the first session. The Finn dived into the pits for a set of the super soft compound tyres, and promptly joined his team mate in comfortably progressing to the next stage.

Q2 was the scene of a further incident at the mid-point of the session, as Jean-Eric Vergne found himself in the wall heading down into the chicane. After a pair of steady laps early on, Both Kimi and Romain launched their E20s out of the garage with 5 minutes remaining; both using the super soft tyres.

An unbelievably tense climax to the second session saw the top 10 drivers covered by less than half a second. Both Lotus F1 Team drivers left it late to secure their places, with Romain occupying P8 and Kimi putting in a last gasp lap to secure P10.The pole position shoot out started in a much more serene manner, but by the end drama had returned once more to the Monaco streets. With 5 minutes to go, Romain set a fantastic lap to take top spot by almost a second from his nearest rival, with Kimi slotting in a few tenths behind in P6.

It was not to last however, as a frantic finale to the day’s running saw most of the field make mad dashes for the line with mere moments to spare, with the resulting grid providing a number of big surprises.

Once the dust had settled on a breath-taking qualifying session, Kimi found himself in P8 with a 1:15.199 from 8 laps, while Romain – at one stage looking good for pole – eventually settled for P5, with a best time of 1:14.639 from 6 laps. Romain will be promoted to P4 for tomorrow’s race, as Michael Schumacher will receive a 5 place grid penalty following his incident with Bruno Senna last time out in Barcelona.

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