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SEBASTIAN VETTEL took his 20th career pole position in yesterday’s qualifying for today’s Monaco Grand Prix, but the session itself was marred by a huge accident suffered by Sauber’s rookie driver, Sergio Pérez.

Vettel, the reigning world champion, set a Q3 time of 1:13.556, lapping the classic Monaco circuit at an average speed of 101.800-mph. The 2009 world champion and Monaco Grand Prix winner Jenson Button (McLaren) will start from second on the grid after clocking a time of 1:13.997, while last year’s Monaco winner Mark Webber (Red Bull), starts third after posting a 1:14.019.

Fourth to eighth on the grid are (in order): 2006 & ’07 Monaco winner Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), five-times Monaco winner Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and Pastor Maldonado (Williams).

Sauber’s Sergio Pérez would have started today’s race from ninth on the grid, but has not been allowed to race on doctor’s orders. The 21-year old Mexican rookie crashed heavily at the Nouvelle Chicane (the chicane after the Tunnel) and hit the barrier side-on. Q3 was Red Flagged for over half an hour while the track doctors and marshals helped Pérez out of his shattered Sauber and put the barrier back together respectively. Young Pérez is reported to have suffered NO BROKEN BONES, but has suffered concussion and a sprained thigh. He crashed at the same place where Rosberg crashed his Mercedes in Saturday morning practice just hours before and where former Sauber driver Karl Wendlinger crashed in 1994 and ended up in a coma for nearly three weeks.

Thank God for TECPRO barriers. If Pérez had hit the steel barriers I shudder to think what would have happened.

Q3 was halted with just 2:26 left on the clock and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton (2008 Monaco winner) hadn’t set a time yet. His first flying lap had been spoilt by Massa appearing to block him, and his second by Pérez’s crash. With cold tyres and only one lap left Hamilton could only manage seventh on the grid, but has since been bumped down to ninth for cutting a chicane in Q3. If Hamilton has got done for this, why has Massa not also been demoted on the grid for blocking Hamilton?!

 Those who were eliminated in Q2 and staring tenth to 16th on the grid are (in order): Vitaly Petrov (Renault), Rubens Barrichello (Williams), Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil (both Force India), Nick Heidfeld (Renault) and Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso).

Q1 saw grid places 17-22 filled by: Heikki Kovalainen and 2004 Monaco winner Jarno Trulli (both Lotus), Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) and the Virgins of Timo Glock and Jérôme d’Ambrosio.

Neither HRT set a lap time in Q1. Vitantonio Liuzzi caused extensive damage to the back of his car in the last few minutes of Saturday practice after crashing at Sainte Devote while Narain Karthikeyan also had done damage to his car. But despite not making the 107% Rule time (1:20.471) both will start the race 23rd and 22nd respectively.

With regards as to who I think will win today I’m feeling slightly cheeky. I correctly predicted that Barcelona would beat Man Utd 3-1 last night, so I’m going to say that Jenson Button will win today.

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