Van der Garde storms to Monaco pole Giedo van der Garde kept calm in the pressure cooker environment of this afternoon's qualifying session in Monaco, pushing at the perfect time to take advantage of his rival's errors to claim pole position, finishing the session ahead of Sam Bird and Jules Bianchi. The Dutchman's best time of 1:21.781, set with just one minute remaining in the eventful session, took pole by less than a tenth.
The session opened to blue skies and very little breeze, with Charles Pic leading the field out onto the circuit. Local man Stefano Coletti set the first competitive lap as Romain Grosjean started a torrid day when he tapped the back of Fairuz Fauzy, forcing the Frenchman into the pits for a new front wing.
Luca Filippi was the next man on the top of the timesheets, but the popular Italian overcooked his run into Ste Devote and clipped the wall immediately after setting the time, bringing his session to an early close and forcing the yellow flags out at the corner for the next five minutes. Bianchi took the top spot when the flags went in, with Fabio Leimer set to steal it until Coletti ran inside the Swiss driver at Rascasse: the inevitable accident brought out the red flags to allow the marshals to clean up the mess.
The stop didn't seem to calm anyone down: with 10 minutes to go Dani Clos tagged the rear of Bird at Anthony Noghes, with van der Garde losing his front wing a few minutes later on the back of Oliver Turvey's car, and Grosjean riding over the rear wheel of teammate Pal Varhaug's car at Rascasse a few minutes later: the Frenchman was unable to set a lap inside the 107% time.
Somehow everything was tidied away to allow one last hot lap in the session: Bird went top, van der Garde went faster, and then Marcus Ericcson found the rear of teammate's Bird's car at the swimming pool, and Johnny Cecotto and Michael Herck stopped on track as the clock wound to an end. Behind the top three were Davide Valsecchi, Alvaro Parente, Coletti, Josef Kral, and Max Chilton, who will all be promoted one place when Bianchi's penalty is applied. Tomorrow's race is set to be a Principality classic.
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