Motorsports Mondial

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Van der Garde storms to Monaco pole

Dutchman on top in chaotic qualifying

Giedo van der Garde kept calm in the pressure cooker environment of this afternoon’s qualifying session in Monaco, pushing at the perfect time to take advantage of his rival’s errors to claim pole position, finishing the session ahead of Sam Bird and Jules Bianchi. The Dutchman’s best time of 1:21.781, set with just one minute remaining in the eventful session, took pole by less than a tenth.

The session opened to blue skies and very little breeze, with Charles Pic leading the field out onto the circuit. Local man Stefano Coletti set the first competitive lap as Romain Grosjean started a torrid day when he tapped the back of Fairuz Fauzy, forcing the Frenchman into the pits for a new front wing.

Luca Filippi was the next man on the top of the timesheets, but the popular Italian overcooked his run into Ste Devote and clipped the wall immediately after setting the time, bringing his session to an early close and forcing the yellow flags out at the corner for the next five minutes. Bianchi took the top spot when the flags went in, with Fabio Leimer set to steal it until Coletti ran inside the Swiss driver at Rascasse: the inevitable accident brought out the red flags to allow the marshals to clean up the mess.

The stop didn’t seem to calm anyone down: with 10 minutes to go Dani Clos tagged the rear of Bird at Anthony Noghes, with van der Garde losing his front wing a few minutes later on the back of Oliver Turvey’s car, and Grosjean riding over the rear wheel of teammate Pal Varhaug’s car at Rascasse a few minutes later: the Frenchman was unable to set a lap inside the 107% time.

Somehow everything was tidied away to allow one last hot lap in the session: Bird went top, van der Garde went faster, and then Marcus Ericcson found the rear of teammate’s Bird’s car at the swimming pool, and Johnny Cecotto and Michael Herck stopped on track as the clock wound to an end. Behind the top three were Davide Valsecchi, Alvaro Parente, Coletti, Josef Kral, and Max Chilton, who will all be promoted one place when Bianchi’s penalty is applied. Tomorrow’s race is set to be a Principality classic.

The Latest for Monaco!

Giedo van der Garde has been demoted to sixth place on the grid for Saturday’s Feature Race, with the Barwa Addax driver being penalised for a collision with Carlin’s Oliver Turvey. The Dutchman had originally snatched pole with a time of 1:21.781, but the decision means iSport International’s Sam Bird inherits the top spot.

Romain Grosjean and Marcus Ericsson were also handed grid drops, with both men running into the back of their team-mate’s cars. The 2011 GP2 Asia Champion will start from the back, while Ericsson has been pushed down to 20th from 15th place.

Fernando Alonso on top in Final practice two!

Pos  Driver                Team                    Time              Laps
 1.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1m15.123s           42
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1m15.228s  + 0.105  33
 3.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1m15.321s  + 0.198  44
 4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1m15.448s  + 0.325  38
 5.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1m15.667s  + 0.544  46
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1m15.781s  + 0.658  45
 7.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1m16.356s  + 1.233  33
 8.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1m16.642s  + 1.519  42
 9.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1m17.101s  + 1.978  46
10.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault                1m17.126s  + 2.003  38
11.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1m17.337s  + 2.214  35
12.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1m17.541s  + 2.418  47
13.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1m17.570s  + 2.447  39
14.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m17.581s  + 2.458  32
15.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1m17.633s  + 2.510  49
16.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1m17.706s  + 2.583  37
17.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m17.789s  + 2.666  43
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault          1m18.266s  + 3.143  50
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault          1m18.490s  + 3.367  39
20.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1m19.053s  + 3.930  15
21.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1m19.185s  + 4.062  40
22.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1m19.338s  + 4.215  35
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1m22.066s  + 6.943  33