Monaco, May 23, 2015 – Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has claimed his first pole position in Monaco. Hamilton went fastest around the streets of the Principality in qualifying using Pirelli’s new P Zero Red supersoft, which is about a second per lap faster than the P Zero Yellow soft that is also nominated this weekend.
The supersoft tyre has a new compound and construction this year, designed to offer even greater resistance to graining and blistering, while benefitting overall performance. Monaco is one of the most important qualifying sessions of the year, as there is little opportunity for overtaking over the course of the tight and twisty grand prix.
Conditions were cool and overcast as qualifying started in Monaco, with track temperatures dropping during each session and a few rain drops falling in the paddock at the very start of Q3. As a result, tyre warm-up became particularly important to extract the best performance.
Only Mercedes and Ferrari were able to get through Q1 using the soft tyres only, with all the drivers using the supersoft from Q2 onwards. With low wear and degradation, drivers completed multiplelap runs during qualifying, with no drop in speed. Hamilton claimed pole with his final run, having previously been the only person to win in Monaco starting outside of pole position (in 2008) since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2003. Every win since has been taken from pole.
The final free practice session this morning was particularly important as the drivers (with the exception of Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado) had no previous experience of running the supersoft, due to rain in FP2. As a result, all the key race and qualifying simulations were concentrated into one hour this morning in conditions that were not particularly representative. Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who will line up third on the grid tomorrow, was fastest on the supersoft in FP3.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Qualifying in Monaco is probably the most important session of the year, and we were pleased with the way that our new supersoft tyre performed during the tight battle for supremacy. We would expect a one-stop strategy for most competitors tomorrow, unless something unusual happens with the weather – which we saw a hint of today.”
The Pirelli strategy predictor:
Monaco is one of the more straightforward race strategies of the year, as wear and degradation is so low. However, there is a possibility of rain showers – with a similar forecast to today – and historically there is a high incidence of safety cars in Monaco as well. For the 78-lap race (the highest number of laps of the season) the theoretically ideal strategy is: start on the supersoft, change to the soft around lap 27, then run to the finish.
Fastest compounds in FP3:
1 Vettel 1m16.143s Supersoft new
2 Rosberg 1m16.361s Supersoft new
3 Hamilton 1m16.705s Supersoft new
Top 10 tyre use:
Hamilton 1m15.098s Supersoft new
Rosberg 1m15.440s Supersoft new
Vettel 1m15.849s Supersoft new
Ricciardo 1m16.041s Supersoft new
Kvyat 1m16.182s Supersoft new
Raikkonen 1m16.427s Supersoft new
Perez 1m16.808s Supersoft new
Sainz 1m16.931s Supersoft new
Maldonado 1m16.946s Supersoft new
Verstappen 1m34.957s Supersoft new