Lewis Hamilton on second row for 2018 Monaco Grand Prix
PUBLISHED: 19:58 26 May 2018 | UPDATED: 20:39 26 May 2018
Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will start the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix from the second row.
The 33-year-old Mercedes F1 driver from Hertfordshire could only qualify third around the streets of Monte Carlo as dominant Red Bull star Daniel Ricciardo stormed to pole position with a record-breaking lap.
Four-time world champion Hamilton will start from P3 behind Ricciardo and Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel, with Silver Arrows colleague Valtteri Bottas qualifying fifth at the Circuit de Monaco.
Both Mercedes drivers will start on the HyperSoft compound after setting their fastest Q2 laps on this tyre.
Despite missing out on a front row start, Hamilton said: “It was a really good session, I gave it everything that I could.
“But even with a perfect lap we couldn’t catch Daniel today; Red Bull just had a little bit more performance, particularly in the last sector.
“I was up in the first sector, but I just couldn’t hold onto it.”
World championship leader Hamilton hasn’t given up hope of claiming victory though, having previously won the Monaco Grand Prix from third place on the grid.
He said: “I’m glad that we’re up there, I won my first Grand Prix here from third but obviously that was in unique circumstances.
“The team did a fantastic job getting the car to where it is.
“It will be interesting to see how the different tyre choices work for each of us tomorrow and there’s going to be lots going on throughout the race.
“I really can’t tell you what Monaco is going to bring tomorrow, but I’m going to give it everything and just keep my head down.
“My goal is to switch places with Daniel, so that’s what I’m going to go for.”
Mercedes team-mate Bottas qualified fifth. He said: “Today was tricky.
“We expected the Red Bull to be very fast around here and we also knew that it was going to be one of the most difficult tracks for our car.
“We improved the set-up from Thursday and the car felt much better to drive.
“The main limitation was overall grip rather than balance, I was sliding around quite a bit.
“I don’t think I could have gone any quicker as I feel like I would have ended up in the wall.”
Bottas added: “We tried to get through Q2 with the UltraSoft, but we realised we didn’t have enough pace for that.
“So we will start the race on the HyperSoft tomorrow, which will be interesting. P5 is not ideal as it’s easier to start from the front row in Monaco, but we know anything can happen here.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: “In Formula One, you can’t make a car that is the class of the field at every circuit – and we saw that again today.
“We came to Monaco expecting this to be one of our weakest tracks, aiming to limit our losses in terms of points, and this is a decent starting point towards that objective.
“We start P3 and P5, helped a little by circumstances, and also two strong laps from Lewis and Valtteri.
“So we can’t be satisfied, but nonetheless I’m reasonably pleased.”
On the team’s qualifying strategy, Wolff explained: “In Q2, we tried something different with the ultra-soft, but the grip just wasn’t there on the harder compound and we were some way off setting a competitive time.
“It was a bit optimistic in hindsight but we at least tried something different, even if it didn’t work out.
“Looking to tomorrow, everybody knows this is a long race and a tough one, with very few opportunities to make up positions.
“They will be managing the pace at the front, so we will try to make good starts and then see what progress can be made.
“It will be a day for damage limitation – and seizing any opportunity that comes our way.”
Engineering director Andrew Shovlin further explained the team’s qualifying result.
“You never go into Monaco qualifying expecting a straightforward session and this was no exception,” he said.
“We struggled to find clear track in the early stages so it took us a few laps to get a decent time on the board, making things a little more exciting than they needed to be.
“Going into Q2, we knew that we did not have the fastest car so decided to have a go at getting through on the UltraSoft, thinking that the alternative strategy might play into our hands tomorrow.
“Ultimately, we didn’t quite have the pace to make this work and came in for HyperSofts.
“By Q3, the reduced number of cars on track makes life a bit easier and both drivers had clear laps and were quite happy with the balance of the car.”
He added: “On a perfect day, Lewis might have made it to the front row but he was having to push right to the limit to get the time and the rears just started to give up in the final sector.
“While we clearly have work to do to improve our performance on a very slow track like this, we’re happy that we got the set-up right and we’re happy that the team worked well in the most difficult qualifying session of the year.
“The race is always exciting and always unpredictable and the HyperSoft is likely to add to that drama.
“We’re close enough to the front to be in the fight and we’ll be ready to take advantage of any opportunity – perhaps not being on the front row helps in this regard as they will be covering each other and it may allow us to do something a little different.”