The 3.340-kilometres Monaco Grand Prix circuit is arguably the most famous circuit in the world, and today Pirelli established a new benchmark by setting the fastest-ever lap during final qualifying the 68-year history of the race.
Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel set a fastest time of 1m13.556s using the PZero Red supersoft tyre, which is making its debut in Monaco. The German’s average speed on his qualifying lap was 163.467kph. Pirelli’s PZero Red supersoft is around a second per lap quicker than the harder PZero Yellow soft tyre around the streets of Monaco
The previous fastest qualifying lap of Monaco was set by Red Bull’s Mark Webber last year, with a pole time of 1m13.826s. Earlier this morning, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso was quickest in the final free practice session prior to qualifying.
The quickest-ever lap of Monaco was actually set by Kimi Raikkonen during Q2 in 2006 with a time of 1m13.532s: two-hundredths of a second faster than Vettel’s time today. However the rules back then meant that only the Q3 lap counted for the final grid position.
Weather conditions remained dry and warm in Monaco for the most crucial qualifying session of the year, as overtaking is so difficult through the tight confines of the twisty streets. Ambient temperature was 24 degrees centigrade, while track temperature peaked at 46 degrees. Vettel used the PZero Yellow soft tyres for Q1 and then moved onto the PZero Red supersofts during Q2 and Q3. However the final qualifying session was stopped with two and half minutes to go, following a big accident for Sauber driver Sergio Pérez at the exit of the tunnel.
After a delay of about half an hour, the remaining nine cars in Q3 completed the session with one timed lap but none of the drivers were able to improve on their times and Vettel sealed his first pole in Monaco: his fifth of the year and the 20th of his career.
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said: “First and foremost, our thoughts are with Sergio Pérez. We wish him a very swift recovery and the fact that we heard he was conscious and talking so soon after such a big accident is a great testimony to the safety standards that operate in Formula One these days. As for the action on the track, it’s going to be very interesting to see which strategies the teams choose to adopt tomorrow. The performance as well as the durability of our PZero Red supersoft tyres have been excellent so far as we expected, and we’re very proud to have set the fastest lap in final qualifying of the iconic Monaco circuit to date with this new compound.”
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