The beautiful city of Monte Carlo, nestled on the mountainside right next to the gleaming ocean, is usually a quiet place to live. Where wealthy people live to get away from it all, simply paradise.
But this weekend will not be quiet, because Formula One makes it's annual trip to the country of Monaco. The streets that buses, sports cars and limos usually drive on, are being replaced by the fast V8 open wheel cars of the FIA Formula One World Championship.
The streets of Monte Carlo prove to be a major challenge to F1 drivers, perhaps the greatest one of the year. Miss your apex by a couple of inches, and you could end up in the barriers. There is absolutely no room for error, as paved runoffs and grass are inexistent. There is nothing but sharp corners and barriers, lots and lots of barriers.
Overtaking opportunities are rare, patience is the key. To pass, you must mainly wait for your opponents to make errors, other than forcing your way by. But with the challenge of this circuit, errors can often be found.
On Saturday, qualifying took place with Jenson Button putting his Brawn GP car on top of the grid for the fourth time in six races. After the two first sessions of knockout qualifying, Button did not seem to be a threat for the pole.
But the Brit returned to familiar territory in the third and final session, posting a time of 1 minute 14.902 seconds to receive the pole position.
"It's so important to qualify well in Monaco and I am really happy to have achieved pole position here today," said an ecstatic Button after qualifying. "It means a lot to me, they all do, but this one is so important for the race tomorrow."
"I struggled on Thursday to find a good balance and we had a few issues that needed to be worked on, however we made some changes since then. I really have to thank everyone at the factory in Brackley and at Mercedes-Benz for producing such a strong and responsive car which allows us to make progress quickly."
Team mate Rubens Barichello was fast all weekend and managed to qualify in third to put both Brawn GP cars near the front. The brazilian veteran posted a time of 1 minute 15.077 seconds.
"Well I had a great lap today at the end of the final qualifying session so Jenson's lap must have been fantastic!" said Barrichello. "I'm very happy with my position for the race tomorrow and really got everything possible out of the car today."
Owner of the Brawn GP team, was satisfied after qualifying:
"A very good day's work from the team with great laps right at the end of the final qualifying session from Jenson and Rubens. To achieve pole and third position on the grid in the most important qualifying hour of the season is a real achievement and puts us in a strong position for the race tomorrow."
Ferrari were finally able to turn their horrible luck around, with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa posting the second and fifth fastest times of the day respectively.
“Second place is a nice result but I’m disappointed that I missed out on pole by a few hundredths." said former world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
"Here, there is a much bigger difference between starting from first or second place. The car has improved and that can be seen from the performance level. Today, we felt ever more comfortable as the track’s grip level improved bit by bit.
Tomorrow’s race will be long and tough. The start will be very important and on the short straight here, the KERS will definitely be a help, but not as much as elsewhere."
It was an extremely disappointing day for defending champion Lewis Hamilton. The Brit was definitely a pre race favourite but a wreck in the first session will make him start in the 16th position.
"I made a mistake. I just braked too late—it's unfortunate, but these things happen. It's not been a good day: I had been going well all weekend and had the possibility of being on the front row.
It's a shame for the team, because they have done such a fantastic job all weekend and the car has felt really strong—as Heikki's grid position shows. Starting 16th is frustrating, but I'll learn from this, drive my heart out tomorrow and see what happens."
One of the most historic races on the Formula One calendar, dating back to 1929, is set to start once again, and it should be another good one with drama, excitement and frustration; what would motorsport be without those?
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