Nico Rosberg claimed his second success Monaco Grand Prix pole position in dramtic fashion, an error on his final lap bringing out the yellow flags, which then denied team-mate Lewis Hamilton the opportunity to improve on his time.
Rosberg claimed provisional pole with his first run in Q3 in the Principality, the German setting a time of 1:15.989. It was just enough to put him ahead of Hamilton, whose opening lap yielded a time of just over five hundredths adrift of his team-mate.
In the closing minutes Rosberg set off ahead of Hamilton in search of an improvement. However on the run to the Mirabeau corner Rosberg momentarily lost control under braking and was forced to take an escape road. The incident immediately saw the yellow flags raised.
“I just locked up, the outside front, I think it was, or the inside, I’m not sure, and that put me off line,” said Rosberg. “I was still trying to make it but in the last moment I had to turn out because I was going to hit the tyre wall. It was close but I managed to go into the escape road.
“I thought it was over once that happened, because I thought the track would ramp up and somebody else could beat the time but no, of course, in the end I’m really, really happy that it worked out in the end. To be on pole is fantastic, at home; couldn’t be better,” he added.
Hamilton, meanwhile, was getting into his own final flying lap, setting a personal best first sector time that could have given him the chance to eclipse Rosberg.
The chance never came, however, as the flags prevented the championship leader from making his charge. He was forced to pull out of the lap and cede pole position to his team-mate.
Third place went to Daniel Ricciardo, who was also displeased with how the last moments of the session had played out, though for different reasons.
“I think all three of us don’t seem to be too pleased with ourselves,” he said. “I think we left a bit on the table. We fought the car pretty hard in qualifying and trying to find a bit more from it. I thought I was getting around it OK but coming up to Turn 8 I just lost the rear completely on exit and pretty much the lap was gone after that. Frustrated, I think we could have been much closer. So a little bit disappointed.”
Ricciardo finished ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel for the fourth time this season, while Fernando Alonso will start fifth ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Jean-Eric Vergne claimed an impressive seventh place in the session his time of 1:17.540 just 1500ths of a second behind Raikkonen’s. Team-mate Daniil Kvyat was ninth, the first time both Toro Rosso cars have qualified in the top 10 since the opening race of the season. Kvyat’s performance was especially good considering that the Russian rookie has never raced at Monaco in any category. Additionally, in Q1 a mistake saw him hit the wall on the run down to the Nouvelle Chicacne and he was forced to pit for a new front wing.
Eighth place went to Kevin Magnussen, the McLaren rookie claiming his third top-10 qualifying position of the year. Tenth place in the session went to Force India’s Sergio Perez.
Elsewhere, Felipe Massa was forced to sit out Q2 after he was pitched into the barriers by Marcus Ericsson at the end of Q1. The Caterham driver tried to pass the Williams driver down the inside but miscalculated and caused them both to hit the wall. Massa had already done enough to progress to Q2 but was not able to take part. (FIA)