By Alan Davies, Formula One correspondent
Saturday, May 26, 2012
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton qualified on the second row of the grid for the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old F1 racer from Hertfordshire was fourth fastest in qualifying in Monte Carlo.
However, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes star will start third on the clean side of the grid.
Mercedes GP driver Michael Schumacher was fastest in qualifying, but will take a five-place grid drop after an infringement in the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago.
Mark Webber, therefore, will start on pole position for Red Bull Racing in Monaco alongside Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes.
* 2011: Q9, R6
* 2010: Q5, R5
* 2009: Q19, R12
* 2008: Q3, R1
* 2007: Q2, R2
The McLaren pitwall told Lewis: “We are P4. Schumacher is on pole, but he has a five-place penalty from the last race.”
Romain Grosjean qualified fifth for the Lotus F1 team, but will start one place further up the grid due to Schumacher’s penalty.
The Ferrari cars of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were sixth and seventh quickest in Q3.
Kimi Raikkonen was eighth in the qualifying results for Lotus.
Pastor Maldonado, winner in Barcelona a fortnight ago for Williams, qualified ninth but has been hit with a 10-place grid penalty after an incident with Sergio Perez.
That penalty means world champion Sebastian Vettel, who was only 10th in qualifying for Red Bull, will start from ninth place.
Nico Rosberg had gone quickest for Mercedes GP in the first run of Q3 around the famous street circuit in qualifying today (Saturday).
Hamilton was told: “We’re currently 0.4s off. Time to find is 0.2s in sector 2 and 0.2s in sector 3.”
* Race distance: 78 laps (161.887 miles/260.520km)
* Start time: 14:00 (local)/12:00 GMT
* Circuit length: 2.075 miles/3.340km
* 2011 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)
* 2011 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing) 1m13.556s (163.467km/h)
* Lap record: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) 1m14.439s (161.528km/h)
He couldn’t find it in his second run as Webber and Schumacher went quicker.
With five minutes of Q2 to go, the McLaren pitwall told Hamilton: “We believe we are safe, we believe that we shouldn’t have to go again.”
That was the case. Stevenage-born Hamilton comfortably reached the top 10 shootout in the Principality as Felipe Massa surprisingly set the fastest Q2 time for Ferrari.
The McLaren pitwall told Lewis: “Our strategy guys did a great job there, and you did a great lap. Let’s get ready for Q3.”
However, there was disappointment for Hamilton’s McLaren teammate Jenson Button, who went out of qualifying in the second round.
He was only 13th after Q2, missing out on the top 10 shootout.
Ahead of the final phase of qualifying, Hamilton was told over the McLaren radio: “We’ll head out nice and early for the first run of Q3 to find some space.”
The pitwall also informed him: “The cars with two sets of new options for Q3 are yourself, Webber, Rosberg and Grosjean.”
The 2012 Monaco Grand Prix – the most glamorous race in F1 – starts at 1pm BST on Sunday.