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Monaco controversy: 'I'm sorry for Lewis'

2014-05-24 16:12

QUALIFYING CONTROVERSY : Nico Rosberg (centre) grabs pole position for the 2014 Monaco GP ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton (left) and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. Image: AP/ Antonio Calanni

Monte Carlo, Monaco - Nico Rosberg took pole position for the 2014 Monaco GP  in controversial circumstances on Saturday (May 24), ahead of his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

The Mercedes pair went out for one final lap with less than a minute remaining. Rosberg lost control coming out of the Mirabeau turn and slid down an escape road. A yellow flag came up, meaning that Hamilton could not improve on his time.

Stewards later said they are investigating Rosberg's maneuver on turn 5. It's the second pole of the season for Rosberg. Hamilton has the other four.


Hamilton has won the past four races and leads the overall standings by three points from Rosberg, who won the season opener in Australia, where Hamilton retired with engine failure.

Four-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel finished fourth, while Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was fifth.

Hamilton had to ease off for the resultant yellow flags and then abandoned his lap, which had been a few hundredths of a second quicker than Rosberg's in sector one.

Rosberg said that he had simply made a mistake, but the nature of the incident clearly left the stewards uncertain if it was deliberate or not.

And the German driver was summoned to an investigation to discover if there was any intent to deliberately hamper Hamilton's prospects.

Rosberg said: "I tried to make it, but turned out as I was going to hit the tyre wall. It was close but I managed to go into the escape road. I know that I had a really good banker in there, so I tried to push that little bit more and went over the edge."


Hamilton refused to answer when asked if he felt Rosberg had tried to deliberately disrupt his pole bid: "I can't say I've been in this position before. Never had that happen before.

Rosberg insisted he had thought pole was lost when he went off. "I thought it was over. I thought the track would ramp up and somebody else would do a time.

"I'm really, really happy - to be on pole at home is fantastic, it couldn't be better."

Asked for his thoughts on his incident denying Hamilton a pole shot, Rosberg replied: "Of course I'm sorry for what happened for Lewis.

"I didn't know exactly where he was until I was reversing and saw him coming up. Of course that's not great, but that's the way it is."

Hamilton said: "Nico has been quick all weekend and I've been working away with it all weekend. I knew starting the last lap that this was it, and I was two (hundredths) up. I was on the pole lap, but I guess it doesn't matter."


The incident, and stewards' actions, nonetheless revived memories of Michael Schumacher's infamous 2006 pole lap when the seven-times world champion blatantly blocked the Rascasse corner and prevented Renault's Fernando Alonso from going faster.

After hours of deliberation, Schumacher was sent to the back of the grid for an 'incorrect action'.

Hamilton, who said only days ago he was hungrier than his team mate for the title, has a three point lead after five races, all won by Mercedes who have also started all from pole.

With Mercedes so dominant, the driver pairing is the talk of Formula One with all eyes watching for signs of their intense rivalry shifting up a gear into open feuding.

Comparisons have been made with the highly combustible 1988/89 McLaren pairing of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, who clashed infamously on the track while fighting for the title.

Hamilton, a boyhood fan of Senna, recalled that famous feud when asked whether he and Rosberg needed to sort things out.

"I don't know if Senna and Prost talked about it, but I quite liked the way Senna dealt with that so I'll take a page out of his book," he said, without elaboration.

Ricciardo will start in third place for Red Bull with quadruple world champion team mate Sebastian Vettel alongside on the second row.

"I think all three of us don't seem to be too pleased with ourselves," observed Ricciardo, sitting alongside Hamilton and Rosberg at a post-qualifying news conference.


The stewards were given more work with three other incidents coming to their attention.

Felipe Massa was furious when Caterham's Swedish rookie Marcus Ericsson rammed the Williams at Mirabeau in an incident that meant he missed the second phase.

Massa said: "I gave him the space and he went over my car. I don't know what more there is to say. The race tomorrow will be very tough. I feel disappointed."
Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat, who qualified an impressive ninth for Toro Rosso despite skidding into the barriers at the tunnel exit in the first phase of qualifying, was also summoned along with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez, with Force India and Sauber respectively, were involved in another incident.

Rookie Kevin Magnussen qualified eighth on his Monaco F1 debut but 2009 world champion team mate Jenson Button, a former winner, was only 12th for McLaren.


Hamilton recently questioned his team mate's hunger to win  at the highest level and referring to what he considered Rosberg's easier upbringing in the luxurious surrounds of Monaco compared to his own, sleeping on his father's couch in Stevenage, England.

Given that nine out of the past 10 Monaco GP's have all been won from pole position, Rosberg has a great chance to reclaim the lead from Hamilton. Rosberg won from pole position at the 2013 Monaco GP  for his maiden win.

Ricciardo again outperformed Vettel in qualifying and has now qualified higher than him in four from six races.

Ricciardo said: "It's nice to fight at the front of the field."

2014 Monaco Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco:

Third practice
Second practice
First practice

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