Schumacher denied pole for Monaco GP due to grid penalty
Monte Carlo, Monaco (Sports Network) - While enduring his worst season in his illustrious Formula One career, Michael Schumacher from Mercedes surprisingly won Saturday's qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix.
But Schumacher, the record seven-time F1 world champion and five-time Monaco GP winner, will not start on the pole position for this prestigious race due to a five-place grid penalty he received for his contact with Williams' Bruno Senna during the May 13 Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
Therefore, Mark Webber from Red Bull will inherit the pole after qualifying second. Schumacher will start sixth.
Schumacher posted a lap around the famed streets of Monte Carlo in 1 minute, 14.301 seconds for his 69th career F1 pole but his first since July 2006 in the French Grand Prix.
"I'm more than thrilled and excited about making the pole here in Monaco," the 43-year-old Schumacher said. "To manage the pole position here after sort of what I have gone through in the past 2 1/2 years, it's just fabulous."
Schumacher has finished last in two of the previous three grand prix. He also placed 20th in the season-opener in Melbourne, Australia. Schumacher has only accumulated two points for the season, with a pair of 10th-place finishes.
"I'm going to start the race in sixth, but I'm going to win it," Schumacher added. "That's what I'm aiming for, and that's all I have on my mind. The past doesn't matter at all."
Webber held the provisional pole with a lap in 1:14.381 until Schumacher topped that in the closing seconds of Q3.
"It was an amazing session, and it was very close," Webber said. "There were some different tire strategies going on, with different people using different sets of tires. It was a good little battle there at the end. Michael had a good lap, but it's nice to move up one position."
The pole sitter for the Monaco GP has won it in six of the last seven years. Webber started on the pole and claimed his first Monaco GP victory in 2010.
Schumacher's teammate, Nico Rosberg, will start second, followed by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean from Lotus and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
Rosberg topped the time charts in the final practice for the Monaco GP earlier in the day.
"It was a good qualifying for me too, and everything went as planned," Rosberg said. "I didn't optimize my car perfectly in the end with too much understeer. But starting on the front row is still a great place to start for tomorrow."
Felipe Massa from Ferrari will roll off seventh after turning in his best qualifying performance of the season, while Kimi Raikkonen will start eighth in his Lotus.
Sebastian Vettel, the two-time defending world champion, qualified 10th but will lineup in ninth due to Pastor Maldonado's 10-place grid penalty for contact with Sergio Perez during the last practice session. Vettel, who started on pole and won last year's Monaco GP, struggled with his tires during Q1 and Q2, prompting him not to make a lap during the final qualifying segment.
"It was looking very good in the morning. but then we did a step in the wrong direction and ended up not having a very good car in qualifying," Vettel said.
Maldonado, who claimed his maiden F1 victory in the Spanish GP, qualified ninth. The Williams driver will start 19th as a result of his penalty.
In the opening minutes of Q1, Perez crashed his Sauber car into the wall in the "Swimming Pool" section of the street circuit. His accident was not as serious as the one he had in last year's qualifying for the Monaco GP. Perez spent two days in the hospital after suffering a concussion during his high speed collision.
05/26 11:26:43 ET