How balls-out crazy is the Monaco Grand Prix, exactly? This ride along on Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes for his pole position-winning lap will show you just how absurdly close all the Formula One cars this weekend have to get to the walls to put down a fast lap of the impossibly narrow, windy street circuit.

All the usual tossing and sliding of a car is still there, only there’s no runoff to save you. Hamilton even experiences quite a bit of oversteer in one section, and runs wide in another from getting two close to the inside curb.

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“It wasn’t the easiest session,” Hamilton told MotorSportsTalk. “I didn’t have the rhythm until the last two laps. I was really, really happy with it. Coming across the line, just hoping for once that you’ve got it.”

Insanity. Pure insanity.

This 1:15.098 lap made for Hamilton’s first F1 pole position at Monaco, with his last pole position here being in 2006 in a GP2 car.

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Needless to say, he’s overjoyed at his first chance to start up front at Monaco.

“This is incredibly special for me and my guys who have worked so hard this weekend, so I’m very, very happy,” Hamilton told MotorSportsTalk. “At this track, it’s so hard. It’s difficult to express just how difficult this track is. Getting your head around it and improving, it’s important to get into a rhythm and it’s important to continue to improve.”

Monaco is famous for a reason: it’s extremely difficult to master, and it will bite you if you even think about hiccuping.

Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg was somewhat of a hometown favorite going into qualifying, as he was up for a possible third pole position in a row at Monaco. Unfortunately for him, he experienced a lock-up that kept him from nailing a faster lap than his teammate. Hamilton edged out Rosberg by only three-tenths of a second, and Rosberg was visibly annoyed with himself in the post-qualifying drivers’ press conference.

“Didn’t have a good weekend so far - I lost touch before the end. I knew Lewis was going quickly and it didn’t work out - that’s it,” explained Rosberg in that conference, as quoted by the BBC. “I didn’t see [running behind Lewis] as too much of a problem. I could have improved - we changed the balance as I was suffering understeer, and I was confident it was going to come my way. But it didn’t.”

One of the biggest complaints about Monaco is how hard it is to pass here. It’s so narrow, busy and difficult to drive in its own right that passes are relatively rare. Ten of the past eleven races here have been won from pole position, so will Rosberg (or someone else) be able to get around Hamilton to take the win? With the two Mercedes cars so close, I’m hoping for at least a good, long tailgating.

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Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel came in third, surprisingly, followed by the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat. (C’mon, Renault engines. Don’t blow!) Coming in sixth was the Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen.

Romain Grosjean qualified 11th, but takes a five-place grid penalty for swapping his gearbox, per Motorsport.com.

Likewise, MotorSportsTalk reports that Carlos Sainz Jr. qualified 8th, but will now start from pit lane because Sainz failed to stop for a weight check during the first qualifying session.

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You can watch the full, official version of Hamilton’s pole position lap here, and full qualifying notes and results can be seen here.

Photo credit: Getty Images


Contact the author at stef.schrader@jalopnik.com.