Michael Schumacher took a phantom pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix. Yes, he was fastest in qualifying, but with a five-place grid penalty hanging over his head from the Spanish Grand Prix, he was relegated to sixth place.
But if you had your money on Schumacher you won’t be disappointed – Unibet pays out based on the classification at the end of qualifying, so if you bet on Schumacher to take pole you will be rewarded as if he had.
It would have been a great to talk about Schumacher’s first pole position since his comeback, which would have been the 69th of his career. From sixth on the grid it’ll be hard, though not impossible, to win. Still, his chances of claiming the first podium finish since returning to F1 look very good indeed.
Rating the grid leaders’ chances
Instead we have Mark Webber starting from pole position for the tenth time in his career. He won this race from pole in 2010 and can definitely repeat that showing.
Starts have been a weakness of Webber’s this year; in the five races so far he’s lost a total of seven positions in the first lap. However, the run to the first corner at Monaco is so short that he may be safe from attack from second-placed Nico Rosberg.
That run to the first corner will be all-important because, from there, it will be as difficult as ever to overtake in Monaco. Hardly surprising, then, that Webber’s odds on victory have been slashed to 2.50.
Rosberg looks a worthwhile bet at 4.50 to win from second – especially if he can beat the Red Bull into the first corner. He was fastest in final practice and competitive throughout qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton may be an even better prospect, despite the fact that he starts from third on the grid. It’s not uncommon to see the third-place driver beat the driver from second into turn one, from where he would be able to attack Webber. Hamilton is priced at 5.00 to score his first victory of 2012.
Fourth-placed Romain Grosjean’s odds are even longer. The Lotus had excellent pace on the soft tyres but couldn’t replicate it when they switched to the super-softs in qualifying. As they’ll start on the super-softs tomorrow it’s hard to see him passing the three cars ahead to win – in Monaco of all places. Still, at 12.00 he is an attractive prospect.
Finally, our phantom poleman Schumacher is priced at 15.00 to win from sixth on the grid. It would be a tremendous story if he did, scoring his first post-comeback win and equalling Ayrton Senna’s record six triumphs in the principality, but it looks distinctly unlikely given his disadvantage on the grid.
Rising stars hit trouble
In the build-up to Monaco I tipped both Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez as drivers to watch. Unfortunately both hit trouble – and each other - on Saturday.
It all began when Maldonado hopped across the front of Perez during final practice. It looked worryingly like a repeat of his driving in Spa last year when he did something similar to Lewis Hamilton.
The stewards took a dim view and duly handed him a ten-place grid penalty. But before that, Maldonado smashed his car up in a crash just minutes before the end of practice. He put his Williams ninth on the grid, which becomes 19th for tomorrow’s race.
However that’s still five places higher than Perez. He thumped the barrier early in qualifying, failed to set a time, and will start last. Disappointing, but at least an improvement on last year when he was injured in qualifying and took no part in the race.