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Page last updated at 13:25 GMT, Saturday, 23 May 2009 14:25 UK

Monaco GP qualifying as it happened


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By Caroline Cheese

1422: That's a wrap. I'm just seeing pictures of a grinning Jenson Button hugging team-mate Rubens Barrichello, whose smile to me looks a little bit forced. You wouldn't blame him. The Brazilian - 37 today - out-performed Button in the lead-up to the qualifying shootout but lost out when it counted. See you all tomorrow.

1420: And we'll see what damage (in a positive sense, of course) Lewis Hamilton can do from a lowly 16th on the grid. At least we should see some overtaking. His McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen will start from seventh.

1416: Not sure Jenson Button will be all that happy to be sitting alongside Kimi Raikkonen, who will of course have the benefit of his Kers power-boost off the start. Should be interesting anyway.

Pole sitter Jenson Button: "I was right on the edge on that lap. I'm absolutely chuffed to bits to snatch pole. I was a long way off in first practice but all the way through the weekend we've improved it bit by bit. This car listens to changes, unlike last year's."

Eddie Jordan on BBC Sport: "I was critical of Kimi Raikkonen at the Spanish GP - I believe rightly so. He's proved me wrong and got himself together. He's absolutely on the case here - it's fantastic what he's achieved and he could easily have been on pole."

1412: Ross Brawn also reveals that Jenson Button has 20 laps of fuel on board. Not bad.

Brawn GP boss Ross Brawn: "I think Jenson is getting into the habit of saving the best for last. He knew that was the lap where he had to produce and he's just driving exceptionally well at the moment."

Former Monaco pole-sitter David Coulthard: "It was possibly the happiest moment of my career winning pole here. Jenson will be absolutely delighted."

1407: Kimi Raikkonen will start on the front row beside Button, with Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel behind them.

1406: "Yeeeeaaaaaaaah. Woo-hoo. Ha ha." That's the verdict of Jenson Button as his team tell him he has taken pole for the fourth time in six races. Phenomenal.


1404: Kimi Raikkonen goes P1 with a 1:14.927 - but up pops Jenson Button with a 1:14.902. Sensational. The chequered flag has dropped.

1404: And just as I say that Kimi Raikkonen pops up in second - and Felipe Massa goes third. Jenson Button and Raikkonen on flyers.

1403: Nothing doing for Ferrari so far, or Fernando Alonso for that matter.

1401: All 10 cars on the track now with three minutes remaining. Still Vettel on top.

1400: BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz reports that Seb Vettel is on a different qualifying strategy to Mark Webber.

1359: Seb Vettel hits back with a 1:15.395 and he now sits in P1 ahead of Rosberg and Barrichello. The Red Bulls are definitely on the charge.

1357: Sebastian Vettel is the earlier show-off - but Nico Rosberg must be running on fumes. He quickly smashes Vettel's time with a 1:15.602.

Lewis Hamilton after crashing out in Q1: "I just don't know what I was thinking, I made a mistake. It's a shame because the weekend had been going so well. I want to apologise to the team for wasting their time but at least Heikki is still up there. Just been tough but you have to learn from these mistakes and I will. It's a shame it happened so early in qualifying one but I will just have to try and make up for it in the race. Going for a race win is for sure over…"

1355: Away we go then in the top-10 shootout. Who's your money on?

1355: Who will take pole? asks Jake Humphrey. "Fuel," replies David Coulthard. Intriguing...

1353: Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari finished quickest in Q2, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen in a Finland lock-out. Mark Webber and Rubens Barrichello next, Jenson Button back in a curious eighth.

1351: Jarno Trulli reckons it's "pretty clear" that Fernando Alonso blocked him in Q1. David Coulthard doesn't think it's clear-cut, Eddie Jordan does.

BBC Sport's Martin Brundle: "This is the most challenging decision of the weekend. Put too much fuel in for Q3 and you're too slow, put too little in and you don't have a workable race strategy."

1348: Q2 over and the five to go are: Buemi, Piquet Jr, Fisichella, Bourdais, Sutil.

1347: Kimi Raikkonen tears it up with a 1:14.514 - the quickest time of the weekend so far. Time's up now and Jenson Button looks like he'll hang on.

1346: Jenson Button moves up to sixth to relief all round in the Brawn garage. Kovalainen still quickest - that will be like a dagger to the heart of Lewis Hamilton.

Holly Samos on BBC Radio 5 Live: "Jarno Trulli has just said that a Renault blocked him and Toyota have confirmed that they have reported that to the stewards."

1342: Giancarlo Fisichella has had a couple of times disallowed because he cut a corner. He lies 15th and last of the Q2 runners. Adrian Sutil also in danger in 13th. But what about Jenson Button? He's in a bit of bother in 10th...

BMW's Nick Heidfeld on BBC Radio 5 Live: "We have made so many changes this weekend but no matter what we do we are still miles away. It's very disappointing, I think it will have to be a one-stop strategy now but I have been here before in a slow car and it could be possible to still pick up points."

1339: And normality returns as Nelson Piquet Jr loses it at Anthony Noghes. He kisses the barrier but seems to have kept out of serious trouble.

1338: And already five cars are into the 1:14s: Kovalainen, Webber, Barrichello, Rosberg, Vettel.

1337: Nico Rosberg posts an impressive 1:14.846. Martin Brundle reckons no-one can feel safe unless they're into the 1:14s.

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "It looks like everyone will do two flying laps in this session instead of the one they do normally. The super-softs seem to react better on longer runs so it's not as important to save new tyres for the race."

1335: Anthony Davidson is just the latest to jump on the Adrian Sutil bandwagon... "Sutil is doing a very good job in the Force India," reckons the BBC 5 Live analyst.

1332: Green light on, Q2 is go.

1330: Crikey, amid all the Lewis Hamilton-related drama, I didn't even tell you who went quickest in that session. It was Nico Rosberg in the Williams, followed by Jenson Button and Mark Webber.

BBC Sport's David Coulthard: "I think it's more than a coincidence that Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton - both running Kers - went off the circuit in that session."

1327: "It was a driver error in my opinion," says Eddie Jordan of Lewis Hamilton's ding. The Englishman tellingly keeps his helmet on as he slopes back to the pits, occasionally punching the tyre wall in frustration.

1326: When I said we'd lose a big name - but I didn't expect it to be Lewis Hamilton. No massive surprise about the Toyotas, who have been struggling all weekend, or indeed those BMWs. But what about Force India? Both their cars make it into Q2 for the first time this season.

1324: Q1 over and both Toyotas and BMWs leave the party - as does world champion Lewis Hamilton. The unlucky five: Hamilton, Heidfeld, Kubica, Trulli and Glock.

1323: Seconds remaining and Robert Kubica is in trouble...

1321: And now it's Brawn, Ferrari, Brawn, Ferrari as Felipe Massa pops up in fourth. Doesn't seem all that happy the Brazilian though. Look at Adrian Sutil, flying in seventh as Giancarlo Fisichella quickly moves up to ninth.

1321: Kimi Raikkonen splits the two Brawns to go second. Felipe Massa still languishing in ninth. Lewis Hamilton seventh.

1319: Less than five minutes remaining: Buemi, Kubica, Fisichella, Bourdais and Heidfeld in the red zone.

1316: Righto, back to it. As Lewis Hamilton trudges back to the pits, Felipe Massa leads the cars back onto the track.

BBC Sport's David Coulthard: "It's very unusual to be left high and dry on the top of that camber."

1313: Lewis Hamilton leans on a barrier with his head bowed. He had such high hopes for this race, but he'll start near the back. That's it for his qualifying session and the best he can do is 15th.

1311: Whoa. Big, big mistake. Lewis Hamilton loses his rear end coming into Mirabeau and slams it into the barrier. That could be that for him. The red flag is out.

1310: Jenson Button takes us into the 1:15s and birthday boy Rubens Barrichello quickly joins him, going a touch quicker. Both Toyotas in the danger zone at the moment.

1308: BBC Sport's Ted Kravitz reports that Ferrari have spent the last five minutes trying to "calm Felipe Massa's head down" - as well as fitting a new nose cone. The Brazilian is back on the track now, on soft tyres.

1307: Sebastian Vettel top with a 1:16.499, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen. The times starting to tumble now.

1303: Felipe Massa manages to lose it on the way into Swimming Pool on his out lap and does some damage to the front of his car. "What's that all about?" asks a perplexed Martin Brundle. If Martin doesn't know, I've got no chance.

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "An update on Ferrari: they had a to change an engine on Massa's car this morning because of a leak. Seb Vettel and Robert Kubica have also changed engines here although they have both reverted back to old ones."

1300: Green light on and the 20 minutes of Q1 are under way, after which we'll lose five.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Monaco: "Final practice was pretty special in Monte Carlo because I went to find out what happens trackside when the cars are running. Marshals dressed in bright orange suits and crash helmets stand poised for action along each side of the track. Working alongside them are doctors, firemen, medical officers and observers armed with clipboards ready to write down significant incidents. Most of the throng working trackside are volunteers so it was surprising to see one official sat leisurely reading a newspaper at the exit of the tunnel."

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Monaco: "Four-time Monaco winner Alain Prost is in the paddock, causing a bit of a stir among TV companies queuing up to get a word with him. The Frenchman is not one of those ex-drivers who finds it difficult to stay away from the Formula 1 paddock - he is a rare visitor these days, with a somewhat disparaging view of the state the sport finds itself in. Amazingly, he looks almost identical to the way he did when he hung up his helmet after his fourth world title in 1993. Prost is 54, yet he weighs exactly the same as he did when he was racing. He keeps himself in shape by cycling, about which he is something of an obsessive. He occasionally does the Etape du Tour, the stage of the Tour de France that the public can ride, and his times remain sensational - for anyone, let alone someone well into their sixth decade."

1256: Lewis Hamilton strolls down the pit-lane waving at the fans in the stands. The world champion has been in a much cheerier mood this weekend - and no wonder, he is many people's tip for a front-row place.

BBC analyst David Coulthard: "Qualifying is vital. There's only one place really to overtake and that's entering into the chicane."

1248: Qualifying under way in a mere 12 minutes and I'd be enormously surprised if we don't see another big-hitter join the Q1 hall of shame. So far this season, Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber, Heikki Kovalainen and Robert Kubica have missed out on the second qualifying session.

Get involved on 606
From vida15 on 606: "Re 1231: Can't wait for Eddie to interview the Queen at Silverstone."
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1243: Would you believe it? Bob Kubica reveals himself to be a big snooker fan. "Ronnie O'Sullivan is one of the greatest ever," says BMW's top man. That interview will also be on the website in a bit. We are spoiling you no?

1241: Fascinating stuff from Martin Brundle on modern steering wheels - which he describes as perfect for the "PlayStation generation". If you missed it, that'll be on the website very shortly.

A celeb has been spotted
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Monaco: "Hello again. What do you want the celebrity or sporting update first? OK then, well I've been up and down the side of the marina twice and there is no sign of Brangelina. Hollywood actor Robert Downey Jr is also supposed to be in town but I haven't sniffed him out either. Sighs. There are plenty of favourite F1 faces knocking about in the paddock, however. Former world champions Sir Jackie Stewart, Mika Hakkinen and Keke Rosberg were all on hand-shaking duty as Murray Walker looked on. Rosberg is tipping Ferrari to do well, but reckons McLaren are "not there". No word on what he thinks about son Nico's chances despite him finishing seventh in final practice for Williams."
F1 Mole goes celeb-spying

1231: Fresh from grilling the Crown Prince of Bahrain a few weeks back, Eddie Jordan has now collared Prince Albert II of Monaco. Is there no member of royalty safe from EJ's searching questions?

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From Saints19 on 606: "Re 1222: Nelson was 0.266 tenths quicker than Alonso in practice session two. Might be worth mentioning that as well, in the interests of balanced reporting."
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1225: There's a sight to bring a smile to your face: it's Murray Walker. "My outstanding Monaco memory is 1992 when Nigel Mansell was leading and came into the pits thinking he had a puncture. Ayrton Senna took the lead and Nigel was climbing all over the back of him but couldn't get past him and he remained without a win in Monaco."

1222: Now I was going to try to lay off Nelson Piquet Jr for this race. The Brazilian has managed to stay on the track for three whole practice sessions, which is significant progress. However, it has been pointed out on 606 that while Fernando Alonso went quickest in final practice, poor old Nelsinho was back in 15th. Maybe he's got a full tank...

Text in your views on 81111
From Phil, Hartlepool, via text on 81111: "Go for pole, super Sutil."

1215: If you are in the UK, BBC1 coverage is very much under way - and streamed on this website. Eddie Jordan is wearing a sensational fitted, white, terry towelling polo shirt. Only in F1...

1212: So if you're a regular here, you'll know that Force India's Adrian Sutil has become a bit of a cult figure around these parts - and it hasn't gone unnoticed. On Twitter on Thursday, the official Force India twitterer - or should that be tweeter? - was asked if Sutil was feeling any pressure, adding "the BBC commentary are bigging him up for sure". Force India's response: "No, he's fine. No extra pressure - he just wants to finish the job."

BBC 5 Live commentator David Croft: "There were only 1.5 seconds splitting the whole field in final practice. This is going to be the closest qualifying session we've had this season."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Monaco: "Fernando Alonso, quickest in this morning's practice, reckons he can get himself into the points again in Monaco. Renault's Spanish double world champion finished fifth in Australia and last time out in Spain and he is aiming to at least match that performance in Monte Carlo. "We are targeting the top five," said Alonso, who won the Monaco GP in 2006 and 2007. "I think it's possible. It's all about being confident and taking some risks in qualifying." All the drivers say Monaco is one race where driver ability can have a greater impact because the street circuit demands more precision and an ability to repeatedly nail the right line though the corners. So Alonso, often hailed as the most complete driver on the grid, really will fancy his chances."

1200: Hello again. That Adrian Sutil news to follow, but in the meantime, don't forget to text on 81111 and/or join the merry throng on 606.
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1110: Short break time. I shall return at 1200 BST - when I will bring you exciting Adrian Sutil news... oh, and a belting qualifying session to boot.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Monaco: "It could be a spicy qualifying session out on the track. I understand there was a bit of row at the drivers' briefing on Thursday when discussions got on to the subject of traffic. Getting a clear lap is always a problem at Monaco, and when race director Charlie Whiting said he did not expect slower cars to get out of the way of faster cars if the backmarker was on his own flying lap, it sparked a bit of kerfuffle. My source tells me that Brawn's Rubens Barrichello was particularly exercised on the subject - and that this caused its own controversy in the context of how slow his Honda car was last season."

1103: So, so close between the top seven, with two-tenths of a second splitting them. "I think Lewis Hamilton can do something special," says 5 Live Sports Extra's Antony Davidson, who points out that Hamilton set his quickest time quite early in the session.

1101: Mark Webber is the last man to complete a lap but he can't improve on 10th - so Fernando Alonso tops the times in final practice with a 1:15.164, quicker than last year's pole time. Jenson Button next, followed by Heikki Kovalainen, who gets one over on his team-mate.

1100: The red light is on, but still a few cars trying to improve on their quickest times.

1058: Kimi Raikkonen is on a flyer, going a touch quicker than Jenson Button in the first section, but he runs into the trouble in the shape of Lewis Hamilton, who is on an out lap. Fernando Alonso pops up in first with a 1:15.164.

1054: Fernando Alonso wrestles his Renault around the final corner and goes second quickest behind Jenson Button. The other Brawn of Rubens Barrichello is third ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

1050: Championship leader Jenson Button is on the super-softs and he's flying... a 1:15.233 puts him top of the pops.

Get involved on 606
From fullmetalalc on 606: "I just can't believe that Nelson has managed to keep his Renault on the track for almost three sessions. Maybe his cursed luck is changing."
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1047: Kimi Raikkonen knocks Lewis Hamilton off his perch with a 1:15.382, and the Ferrari man is still on the softs so there could be even more to come from him.

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From dyrewolfe on 606: "Ferrari are looking very handy around here too. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Massa bag pole position."
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1042: Robert Kubica has done 16 laps and remains 20th and slowest with a 1:18.172, with BMW team-mate Nick Heidfeld just above him.

1038: Lewis Hamilton is the first man to put the super-soft tyres on. Everyone else still on the harder compound. Hamilton slices seven one-hundredths of a second off his quickest time.

BBC Radio 5 Live
Antony Davidson on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra: "Don't judge Toyota on this race. They'll be back at the high-speed circuits. The double diffuser is less helpful at Monaco so I wouldn't write them off."

Get involved on 606
From Blythy_vxR on 606: "I think that this isn't going to be a fantastic weekend for the Red Bulls. That's based on practice times of course, but it's not looking great."
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1031: Giancarlo Fisichella loses the rear end of his Force India at the Nouvelle chicane but avoids any contact and is on his way again. Still Lewis Hamilton quickest with a 1:15.622 ahead of Rubens Barrichello and the two Ferraris.

1026: Nico Rosberg takes a brief turn at the top but Lewis Hamilton responds with a 1:15.622. Kimi Raikkonen goes into the 1:15s too.

1023: Rubens Barrichello - who was flying in practice on Thursday - has returned to the pits after suffering a lot of wheelspin during his last run. He's also complaining of understeer on his Brawn.

1021: Lewis Hamilton blows them all away with a 1:16.791, pushing Nando Alonso into second ahead of Nico Rosberg.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Monaco: "Standing at the first part of the swimming pool complex and there's a steady stream of journalists coming by to revel in what is one of the best places to in the world to appreciate the drama of an F1 car on the limit, and the skill and bravery it takes to get and keep it there."

1014: Both Toyotas are out and Timo Glock runs very wide at the last corner, ruining that lap. Still, my perennial tip for victory is the quickest man on the track at the moment... no he's not, he's just been usurped by Fisi.

1011: Fisichella it is who posts the first lap time of the day with a pedestrian 1:22.045. Last year's pole time was Felipe Massa's 1:15.787.

1008: All quiet on the track briefly... but here comes Giancarlo Fisichella in his Force India. There's only one Force India driver we want to see though right?

Get involved on 606
From lanzafox on 606: "Sadly I still don't think Hamilton has the car to get him the win, but if he can do well in qualifying, say top 4, then I think he can get a top 3 finish. Button to win again this weekend."
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1005: A Kers update from BBC pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie: McLaren and Ferrari have it, BMW and Renault do not.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Monaco: "BMW Sauber don't appear to be putting their gloomy start to the 2009 season behind them just yet. Robert Kubica failed to set a lap time in second practice on Thursday after his engine blew up with a spectacular burst of flames from its rear while team-mate Nick Heidfeld finished 17th in both sessions. On the upside for Kubica, it was his Melbourne race engine that conked out and it was going to be ditched after practice anyway. The bad news is that he is now onto engine number five with each driver limited to eight engines per season. There could be some better news on the horizon though as apparently the team will debut a double diffuser at the next race in Turkey."

1000: The clock is ticking and we're under way in final practice.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Monaco: "There's great anticipation ahead of Saturday's qualifying session based on the feeling that this could be the most open grand prix of the year. Monaco's unique characteristics could bring into the reckoning teams and drivers who have not yet been in a position to win this season. Among those could even be Lewis Hamilton, who is brilliant around this track, which perfectly suits his oversteery, acrobatic driving style. Could that, allied to the fact that there are few really fast corners here to punish the McLaren's lack of downforce, be enough to put him in among the Brawns and Red Bulls in the fight for pole? Fernando Alonso, another who excels here, is also hopeful of a decent showing. And Ferrari driver Felipe Massa's dramatic, high-energy performance in Thursday practice won admiration up and down the pit lane."

Get involved on 606
From GloucesterGas on 606: "Hamilton is the ONLY driver with the vision and the skill to overtake on this track, because he is much more fearless than any of the others. I am supporting JB all the way, but I think this is one of the tracks at which, technically, Hamilton is miles above the others."
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0955: Heads up, UK dwellers. Live coverage is under way on the BBC Red Button and streamed on this website.

Text in your views on 81111
From Lee via text on 81111: "Morning Caroline. No celebs spotted here in Castleford yet. Got a good feeling about this weekend, Button pole, Newcastle to stay up and the TV is mine all day as the wife is away all weekend!"

0951: Sorry Mike, still another nine minutes until cars hit track in the final practice session. I'm seeing a lot of shots of ladies on yachts in bikinis if that is of any interest?

Text in your views on 81111
From Mike via text on 81111: "Caroline! Where are the cars? We men aren't interested in celebrities for goodness sake. We want engines."

0949: Imagine my surprise this morning when I read the headline 'Progress made in F1 talks'. And I really, really thought Formula 1 was a goner. After days of pointless posturing, we're now into 'reaching a compromise' territory in which they all sit down and slowly - very slowly - come up with a solution which makes everyone look like a winner. Seriously, I'm going to hold a party when this torturous story is over and you're all invited*.
* Please don't really take that seriously.
Progress made in F1 crisis talks

0945: Truly sensational news from Holty there. I wonder if Brad and Ange heard Graham Taylor was in town?

A celeb has been spotted
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Monaco: "Monaco is the playground of the rich and famous but The Cheese will surely be wondering if today the big guns will come out to play. I have some good news. It looks like Brangelina will be packing a picnic basket in time for qualifying at 1300 BST. The hot gossip here is that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have popped down from this week's Cannes Film Festival and hired a yacht. Frankly, EVERYONE is waiting to see if this is true. A BBC colleague reckons you cannot get more A-list than that … that was until I told her that BBC website columnist and Olympian Steve Cram was also in town."

0941: No chance of you lot not delivering is there? Drop me a text on 81111 or mix it with the 606 crew. The choice is yours.
Join the debate on 606

0937: Of course, the whole point of the Monaco Grand Prix is the celeb-spotting, and Thursday's practice was a spectacular fail on the that front - consisting of James Blunt and an unsubstantiated Graham Taylor. Today, surely, will deliver.

The sun is out
0930: Hello world! The sun glinting off the windows, a warm breeze ruffling my hair, it really is a glorious day in Shepherds Bush. Shame it's absolutely lashing it down in Monte Carlo... No, no, no, I'm kidding of course. It's a smasher over there too.

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see also
Monaco Grand Prix practice results
18 May 09 |  Results
Superb Button steals Monaco pole
23 May 09 |  Formula 1
Monaco GP qualification photos
23 May 09 |  Formula 1
Progress made in F1 crisis talks
22 May 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton talks up Monaco chances
22 May 09 |  Formula 1
Rosberg sets Monaco practice pace
21 May 09 |  Formula 1
Ferrari fail in budget-cap appeal
20 May 09 |  Formula 1
Vettel targets Button in Monaco
20 May 09 |  Formula 1
F1 on the BBC
01 Dec 11 |  Formula 1

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