Published: Sat, May 27, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Kimi Raikkonen takes Monaco GP pole, Lewis Hamilton only 14th

Kimi Raikkonen takes Monaco GP pole, Lewis Hamilton only 14th

"We have to try and understand what's happening, how we are going backward over the weekend", Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said.

The afternoon proved to be a different story.

Raikkonen turned in a best lap of 1:12.178 to finish just 0.043 seconds clear of Vettel in P2, giving Ferrari its second front-row lock-out in three races.

Bottas, who replaced retired 2016 champion Nico Rosberg in January, was third and two hundredths of a second off Vettel's time of 1:12.221.

"Valtteri didn't have any struggles today, so I'm a bit confused and I can't pinpoint the problem", Hamilton said.

He said he was baffled by his loss of speed after topping the times in Thursday's opening practice before the team made set-up changes.

Hamilton has arrived in Monte Carlo six points adrift of Vettel in the title race after the triple world champion claimed his second victory of the season in Spain a fortnight ago. Bottas is third in the standings right now. This was a problem they hoped upgrades in Barcelona had addressed and the win there suggested they had been successful.

The result left Hamilton somewhat miffed although team boss Toto Wolff had indicated a different auto set-up for the second session had been to blame.

MONACO (AP) - While resurgent Ferrari keeps improving, Mercedes is at a loss to explain the difference in performance between its two cars. I don't really have much to say at the moment.

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"We've got some work to do ahead of Saturday that's for sure, but I'm confident the team can work it out".

"The vehicle was really quite nice to drive", he commented.

"To the point that I couldn't get out of the vehicle".

"Now we have to really check carefully what is the differences between the two cars, why the whole setup works on one vehicle and not on the other". That's not a very hard exercise but we lost a session where we could have progressed.

Button will return to the McLaren cockpit later on Thursday, before Monaco's traditional "rest day" tomorrow and qualifying on Saturday. But Raikkonen, in about as monotone of a statement as he could after his first pole in nine years, said qualifying "was very good fun".

"We will have a good think about it tomorrow in order to put things right for Saturday. We just need to identify why I wasn't able to be up there too".

Button, a stand-in for Fernando Alonso at McLaren while the Spaniard competes in Sunday's Indianapolis 500, qualified ninth. The team now faces a race against time to rebuild the auto in time for qualifying.

However, the 2009 world champions eased back into the seat with relative aplomb. Ricciardo slotted into second ahead of Vettel with most cars dashing back to the pits after the first stint. The German team would have chosen the wrong settings by opting for the ultra-tender gums, which are said to be faster. If we hit the ideal lap, then I don't know, what's next beyond flawless?

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